Check out the video of our hike and climb at Olomana Ridge Trail on Oahu!
Kaniakapupu Ruins, formerly the summer home of King Kamehameha III, is a hidden treasure on the island of Oahu. Not technically a public trail, the trek to the ruins is easy and scenic.
Finding the trailhead is kind of like the start of a treasure hunt. Because this isn’t a public trail, there is no signage, no parking lot, and very few hikers. We followed the directions on best-of-oahu.com to find the trail.
Down winding, tree-lined Nuuanu Pali Drive, the start of the trail is nothing more than a small tunnel opening in a dense bamboo forest. We actually missed the trail, because we parked much further ahead and wandered in somewhere else. We got lucky because we met a group of teenagers also heading to the ruins who let us follow them through the thick of the bamboo forest. We would have never found it on our own.
Straight ahead is the kitchen area, which contains a large fire pit.
There isn’t much left of the structure, which dates back to 1845. The summer home was only used for a few decades before being abandoned for unknown reasons.
Oh, hello there, Mr. Carbajal…
There’s still life in these old ruins.
For your reading pleasure:
Summer Palace of King Kamehameha III and his queen Kalama
Completed in 1845 it was the scene of entertainment of foreign celebrities and the feasting of chiefs and commoners. The greatest of these occasions was a luau attended by an estimated ten thousand people celebrating Hawaiian Restoration Day in 1847.
We really loved exploring the ruins, and a nice couple we chatted with showed us how to take the path back to the road!
Written by Stephanie
Olomana Ridge Trail consists of three peaks rising dramatically from the Koolau Ridge: Olomana, Paku’i, and Ahiki. We only climbed Olomana, which is the first and highest peak, offering stunning 360-degree views from the top.
The trailhead is a short drive out of Honolulu, located just inside the Luana Hills Country Club. Although not a long hike, it is quite strenuous and not for the faint of heart. Steep and narrow at times, it also includes rock scrambling and a 15-foot vertical rock ascent near the end to reach the peak.
The friendly guy in the guard shack at the entrance to the country club told us to be on the lookout for wild pigs, which will normally run from humans; however, if there happens to be a dog nearby they can get aggressive, because they think they’re being hunted. We did see one pig along the side of the road as we headed toward the trail, but none on the hike itself. We made plenty of noise as we walked so anything in close proximity would hear us coming.
Pretty vistas along the trail offered great stopping points for water and short rests, and the trail itself is full of diverse and lush vegetation.
We made it to the top–and back down again–without incident. If you find yourself on Oahu and looking for adventure, this is a great hike! Use your best judgment and know your limits. The trail can be dangerous, especially in wet or windy conditions, and it consists of many narrow pathways, cliff edges, and rocky ascents.
Distance: 3 miles, roundtrip
Elevation: 1, 644 ft. (501 m.)
Terrain: Steep, narrow, rocky; requires some rock climbing and scrambling.
Difficulty Level: Advanced