Honolulu County High Point Trip Report

Waianae Kaala

Date: November 17, 2001
Authors: Donna Ikenberry and Mike Vining

Waianae Kaala is located in the Waianae Mountains. At 4,025 feet, it commands a view of the western half of the island, including the North Shore, though the view is often obscured by a fog that covers the boggy summit. The summit is also shared by a restricted FAA facility. A road leads to the summit from the north, but it has a restricted access. Our route was from the southwest. We began by going to the town of Waianae on the west shore off Highway 93. We turned right (east) on Waianae Valley Road. At the end of the road there's a bus turn around circle. Turn left (northeast) on a one lane paved road for 1.1 miles, stopping a locked gate and a parking area. The trailhead begins here at 580 feet. There is a hiker/hunter register in a mailbox. The hunters hunt for pigs and goats on the lower slopes.

The first part of the hike is on a one lane road that at times is either concrete or asphalt. It leads through a water restricted area and ends at water well number 2. A one lane dirt road continues to a covered picnic table established by a Boy Scout group. A hiking trail now leads up slope. Sticks across side trails help keep you on the main trail.

At about the midpoint you gain the summit ridge (west ridge) at 2,720 feet.The upper section of this trail is steep. The climb along the summit ridge is very narrow in sections and the upper section has about 600 feet of boulder scrambling and rope and cable hand over hand climbing. This area is very slippery and if one would slip the end result could be serious injury or death. The knot ropes are made of either nylon or polypropylene and the cable is made of knotted telephone lines of various sizes. The fixed installations are attached to trees or bushes. Use these installations at your own risk. I rated this section class four and I would not recommend this climb for children.

At the top of the ridge is a sign and a boot brush to clean your feet before entering the preserve. There are many rare or endangered plants on top that are endemic to the island. The trail through the summit bog is on a boardwalk. The path leads to a unlocked gate, across a helipad and then to a paved road (Kaala Road). Make sure to keep the gate close. Walk the road to the FAA facility gate then turn left (north) around the outside of the fence to the benchmark. Return the same way.

Difficulty: Strenuous
Dangerous: Moderately High
Distance (RT): 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet
Time (Total): Allow at least 7 1/2 hours
Guide Book: Stuart M. Ball, Jr, The Hikers Guide to Oahu - Revised Edition,
                    University of Hawaii Press (2000).