The Mount Olympus Hike is a slippery, muddy adventure up to the Koolau Summit Trail on Oahu. While not the most extreme hike on the island, this one will challenge you with some solid incline and a few steep sections requiring a rope. Views from the top extend to both sides of the island and make for a beautiful reward at the summit.
HIKING TO MOUNT OLYMPUS ((AWAAWALOA)) ON OAHU
In this blog post, I will share with you all of the details you need in order to enjoy this hike such as distance, incline, best viewpoints along the way, where to park, the best time of day, photo opportunities, and other attractions nearby.
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MOUNT OLYMPUS HIKE DETAILS
- Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 9.5km for the round trip.
- Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 3-4 hours up and down
- Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 624m meters
- Hike Difficulty: This hike is one of the more challenging routes on the island of Oahu due to the solid incline, ropes, and slippery ascent.
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
WHERE IS MOUNT OLYMPUS HIKE ON OAHU, HAWAII
When you search on Google Maps you are actually looking for Wa’ahila Ridge. This is where you will start the hike and many people hike the Wa’ahila Ridge but don’t go all the way to Mount Olympus. Park at the Wa’ahila Ridge parking lot where there is ample parking and then start the Wa’ahila Trail, which will lead you all the way to Mount Olympus.
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MY EXPERIENCE HIKING MOUNT OLYMPUS
Mt Olympus Hike is one of the highest peaks on Oahu and is often entirely engulfed by clouds. It is a 4-hour round trip with muddy terrain and a number of steep inclines. Although there are multiple different ways to reach Mt Olympus, we began at Wa’ahila Ridge Recreation Park. This is the most common out-and-back route to hike to Mount Olympus.
The Mount Olympus hike begins at the Wa’ahila State Recreation Park on the Wa’ahila Trail. The route eases you in slowly, as a clear path leads you through a tunnel of trees. The trail then exposes you to your first views of the valley and the initial look at the drop on the sides of the ridge.
At this stage of the trail, there are several sections that require you to clamber down rocks or pull yourself up muddy slopes by hanging onto tree trunks. It isn’t very hard but important to note this isn’t a straightforward walking trail.
The hike begins to open up after 45 minutes of walking and there are several open landings with views of Waikiki and beyond. We decided to test out how sturdy a few of the trees were and climbed out on the branches as we looked out over Honolulu.
HAWAII HIKING PACKING LIST
Many people come unprepared for hiking on Oahu and that’s why there are so many rescues. Make sure you at least have the basics and you will be prepared for bad weather or any mishaps on the trail. A headlamp, rain jacket, and good hiking boots or shoes are the three main pieces of gear you need. Below are my four Hawaii hiking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
Back to the trail and the incline becomes a whole lot steeper and so slippery you will be thankful for the ropes. We dragged ourselves up with the ropes to what appeared to be the top of the hike. However, it seemed that this was somewhat of a false ending to the hike as we could see the trail continuing.
I had previously done the Ka’au Crater hike before and knew that these two trails linked up via the ridge. We kept going until we were right on top of Mt. Olympus although there was no clear landing to enjoy the view.
We found a little clearing, large enough to set up to shoot a time-lapse and enjoy the amazing spectacle of watching wave after wave of clouds come rushing towards us. It was a little frightening to be up so high, in interesting weather conditions but while the trail is narrow there is quite a lot of vegetation on either side of the trail so we were not worried if we did slip in the mud on the way down, as it would have been hard to slip completely off of the trail.
If you want to head back down the way you came, that is perfectly fine. However, it is possible to connect to the Koolau Summit Trail and hike along that for a while. You can then take one of the next ridges down to complete a loop trail or a point-to-point trail and get picked up by a friend. I prefer coming down a different ridge to mix it up.
Just when we were ready to pack up it started to rain heavily, this made us quite nervous for our descent but we waited a little while and luckily the rain passed. The trail was now a slick track perfect for some tropical skiing.
We began our trek down and found some relatively safe-looking spots to slide down the mountain. I don’t suggest this activity but if you feel confident it is definitely a good laugh. We had too many falls to count and it was really the highlight of the hike. I haven’t had that much fun hiking down a mountain since I have been on Oahu.
The last 30 minutes of the Mount Olympus hiking trail was up and down and down and up, which was grueling after a long day but that is what hiking is all about. We finally arrived back at Waahila Recreation Park at 6 pm, after what was a long, muddy, and very enjoyable adventure. The Mt. Olympus hike has definitely found itself a place in my top five hikes on Oahu so far.
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU
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