OLOMANA TRAIL ‘THREE PEAKS HIKE’ ON OAHU, HAWAII

The Olomana Trail, also known as the ‘Three Peaks Hike’, on the east side of Oahu Hawaii is one of my favorite challenging hikes on the island. It’s quite technical with lots of bouldering, rope sections, and tree roots to navigate so your mind and body get quite the workout. Once you reach the first peak, the views along the ridge-line are incredible. I suggest heading up at sunrise or even before sunrise so you can watch the amazing colors in the sky over Lanikai Beach. On the backside, seeing the Koolau Mountain Range light up in the background with the ominous third peak in the foreground is one of the most spectacular hiking views on the island. This trail can be dangerous and isn’t for everyone but in this blog post, I will give you all of the details about the Olomana Trail and what to expect.

BLOG POST: You might also be interested in my experience (many years ago) hiking the Stairway to Heaven. You can check out my blog post here: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN HIKE ON OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2021

OAHU HIKING GUIDE: I’ve written a guide for the top hikes on Oahu that I am sure you will find useful: TOP 10 HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII

OLOMANA TRAIL ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE DETAILS

Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 7.1km (4.4 miles) out and back (return trip).

Hike Duration: The hike to the third peak and back should take about three hours or just two hours if you decide to turn back at the second peak.

Hike Difficulty: The Olomana Trail is quite technical compared to a normal hiking route. While the path is relatively easy to follow you will encounter very uneven terrain with constant shuffling over tree roots and naturally formed stairs. Muddy embankments and slippery slopes require ropes at certain points to navigate. There is some basic bouldering to be done on the way up to the first and second peak where ropes can be used and there is some limited exposure. If you are in average athletic condition, reaching the first and second peaks will be an exciting and challenging route but easily achievable.

The journey from the second peak to the third peak is often left alone by many hikers due to the exposure on either side of the ridge and the small rope-assisted rock climbing sections. This final section to the third of the three peaks should only be attempted by those with experience on rocky scrambles, not afraid of heights, and good technical ability. It isn’t a rock climb or anything incredibly dangerous but those who are not 100% confident should leave the last peak alone as many hikers over the years have come into trouble and had fallen in this area. The good thing is that the views of the third peak from the second peak are the best on the trail, which is why many people call it a day at the second peak.

Hike Incline: 600 meters incline on the hike to the third peak and back.

My Strava Map Upload: Three Peaks Hike

HOW TO GET TO THE OLOMANA TRAIL ‘THREE PEAKS’ TRAILHEAD

The Olomana Ridge Trailhead is on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s about a thirty-minute drive from Waikiki. The trailhead is actually within the driveway/property of the Olomana Golf Club and I’ve added the pin location to the map below. Don’t worry this hiking trail isn’t illegal like many on Oahu. You will need to park about half a mile away in any of one of the nearby neighborhoods and then walk to the trailhead. Make sure you park legally as many people unknowingly get ticketed for parking on unsigned sidewalks. Also, don’t leave anything in your car as thieves target tourists with break-ins while they are off enjoying their hike. The images below show the entrance to the golf course and then the small sign that indicates the turn off for the trail.

MY EXPERIENCE ON THE OLOMANA TRAIL ‘THREE PEAKS HIKE’

Three Peaks is one of the most distinguishable landmarks on the island. Whenever you are hiking anywhere along the Koolau Ridge, you can always peer down from the cliffs and spot the three sharp peaks in the valley below. The interesting part about the third peak is that from the second peak it looks like a precarious, vertical climb. However, from many other vantage points such as K1 or locations from the center of the island, you can see that it is the least sharp of all three ridges. It’s a comforting thought while you are hanging from the ropes on the third peak, but by no means is this an easy trail.

I decided to hike this one for sunrise as you can catch some pretty epic views of the east coast as the sun rises directly over the islets of Lanikai known as Na Mokulua. You will need a headlamp and strong motivation to be atop the peaks for sunrise. We left Waikiki at 3:20 am for a 4 am start up the trail.

We parked about 3/4 of a mile away in the nearby neighborhood and made our way to the start of the trail. It’s important to note the gate will be closed to the driveway if you go before sunrise but no one seems to mind if you slip around the side to begin your hike in the dark.

The trail shoots off to the right when you see the white ‘Olomana Trail’ sign covered in stickers. The route is pretty clear for most of the way but it won’t hurt to have the AllTrails map or my GPX I provided above plugged into your phone to double-check if you are ever uncertain.

The journey from the trailhead to the first peak is relatively steep with a few hundred meters of the incline leading you up and over tree roots and slippery, muddy mounds. The tropical heat can be steamy within the canopy of the forest so expect to reach the summit covered in sweat. All of the photos from the ascent were taken on the way down as it was obviously dark on our way up.

As you get close to the summit of the first peak you will have a small boulder problem to navigate. The ropes will help you climb up the rocky wall, which will be challenging for beginners but a piece of cake for this familiar with a bit of scrambling. Make sure to always check the ropes as these are installed by other hikers and you are climbing at your own risk.

After the big boulder, you will emerge from the undergrowth and begin to catch some amazing views of the northeast coast of the island all the way down to Kualoa and Kaneohe. It’s a spectacularly lush part of the island where the Acacia Trees beneath the Koolau Ridges create the Jurassic Park vibes, which Hawaii is so famous for.

After about an hour or so you should reach the first peak, which is a sweet little platform with views in all directions. We chilled out here for a little bit but decided to carry on to peak two for our sunrise spot. It will only take you about 10-20 minutes to reach the second peak from the first peak with a small descent before a small ascent up the second peak. For those unsure of their climbing ability, you should still be comfortable reaching the second peak but after that, things intsensify.

With about 20-minutes to spare, we arrived at the second peak to watch the sunrise unfold over the east coast. There’s often a fair bit of cloud cover over the interior of the island but a beautiful sunrise on the east coast is a pretty common occurrence. On this morning, it started to rain but by the time the sun rose, the rain had drifted off and we caught some beautiful rays pouring through the clouds to light up the sky.

As the sun broke through the clouds, the third peak lit up on one side creating a very dramatic view with the Koolau Ridge in the background. This view is beautiful but also a bit intimidating as the ridge looks very sharp due to this side-on angle. In reality, it isn’t quite as steep as it looks. These are a few drone shots from the golden hour, some of which actually show the true angle of the third peak.

At this point, you are up on the second peak and enjoying the views. You can turn back and finish the hike there or continue on to the third peak. It’s not quite as crazy as it looks but you will have to do some scrambling, minor rope climbing and there is exposure on narrow ridges. I won’t dramatize it any more than it is but many who have limited experience hiking should probably turn back and only those confident on narrow ridge-hikes and steep rope sections should continue.

The drop-down from peak two is quite immediate and there’s a fair decline with ropes to begin the journey across to the third peak. This is one of the best spots to snap some photos of the peak as it juts out from the sea of green trees against the backdrop of the ridges.

After the descent, you have a short moment to catch your breath before beginning the rocky climb up the third peak. There are two main sections to navigate. One of them is a large rock wall that you will edge around the side of with the help of ropes and the other is a narrow climbing section using a rope. This section requires focus and making sure of each step is important as there are loose rocks and slipper gravel on this climb.

Atop the summit, the views do not get any worse at all, although they don’t change much from peak two to peak three. I do suggest heading down the ‘backside’ of peak three ever so slightly for a nice viewpoint looking out towards the Koolau Range.

It is possible to continue on down the backside of the third peak known as ‘Reverse Olomana Trail’, but I’ve never done that way and it’s something for only very experienced hikers to attempt. That is the end of the hike and you now carefully retrace your steps all the way back to the second and first peak before descending to the trailhead.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Olomana Trail ‘Three Peaks’ and have good luck and good weather on your journey!

MY FOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES ON OAHU

Looking for some idea for activities on your rest day from hiking? These are my favorite activities on the island… especially the doors-off helicopter flight.

  • Oahu scenic helicopter flight: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off). You will be absolutely blown away when you see Oahu from the sky! Click to book your tour: Doors-Off Helicopter Flight Tour
  • North Shore Shark Cage Adventure: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks! Click to book your tour: North Shore Shark Cage Experience
  • Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins. A once in a lifetime experience. Click to book your tour: Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour
  • Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: One of my favorite memories of Hawaii is floating in the water with a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. On this tour that is exactly what you will do! Click to book your tour: Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran

HAWAII HIKING PACKING LIST

Many people come unprepared for hiking on Oahu and that’s why there are so many rescues. Make sure you atleast have the basics and you will be prepared for bad weather or any mishaps on the trail. A headlamp, rainjacket and good hiking boots or shoes are the three main pieces of gear you need.

Hiking shoes – It’s best to use hiking boots with good grip and that can handle mud, rain, and tough terrain. Hiking shoes I use: Salomon Mid GTX

Rain Jacket – Never hike in Hawaii without a rain jacket, no matter how sunny it is in Honolulu. Rain Jacket I use: Arcteryx Lightweight Rain Jacket

Spare T-shirt – To change into at the top of a summit to be dry and warm as you will sweat through your original shirt while hiking: Dry fit hiking shirt I use: IceBreaker Merino Lite

Micro-spikes – You might not have used them much before but they basically slip over the top of your normal shoes giving you incredible grip, which is perfect for the slippery trails of Oahu. They will be the best purchase you make if you plan to hike a lot on Oahu. Microspikes I use: Kahtoola MICROspikes

Headlamp – So you can keep your hands free instead of holding a torch. Head Torch I use: Petzl Head Lamp 450 Lumens

My Camera Backpack: You simply won’t find a better camera backpack for hiking that my Atlas Athlete Backpack, which I’ve been using on all of my hikes all over the world for years now: Atlas Athlete Camera Backpack

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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!

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. Luxury rooms overlooking the beach, a private lagoon and a free fireworks and dance performance show. Hilton is easily the most recognizable hotel on the Island.

Why I recommend this hotel: It has its own private lagoon. While lots of people love the beach it is perfect for families. Kids can kayak, swim and snorkel with no worries. There are no currents, waves or sea creatures to worry about. The hotel is right on Waikiki Beach so don’t worry the beach is right there also.

Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach. The bar and nightclub at the Sheraton is a great place to relax after a long day of island adventures.

Why I recommend this hotel: The Sheraton is always exceptional no matter the location but imagine you are leaning over the edge of an infinity pool, the ocean is below you and you turn to your left and watch Diamond Head crater in the distance. That’s where you will be at the end of each day, having a Mai Tai cocktail in your infinity pool. Later on, in the evening Rumfire is a great bar venue, which is actually part of the Sheraton. It is open to the public and is one of the best high-end venues on Oahu. It has a small dance floor but is mostly standing and seating areas for drinks, chats and good times.

Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Hotels in Waikiki can be expensive. Deciding where to stay on Oahu can be difficult if you don’t have much cash. Luckily, there is an accommodation option on the edge of Waikiki that is excellent value.

Why do I recommend this hostel/hotel: This is the perfect hotel if you want location but are willing to sacrifice a pool and some luxury items to save up to $200 per night. All of the hotels in this area are minimum $300 per night and often much more. Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD. If you are like me, I never swim in the hotel pool anyway. Didn’t you come halfway across the world to swim in the beach!

Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location. Walking distance to Waikiki beach and a central location to base yourself for a week of adventures.

Why I recommend this hostel: Unfortunately Waikiki and Honolulu, in general, are not cheap.  You can grab a dorm room for under $35 a night within walking distance to Waikiki surf beach. This location really is great. You are near a lot of attractions and can take public transport to a lot of great east coast beaches and hikes. It is the number one hostel in Waikiki and I’m sure you will meet other adventurers to go on hikes with!

Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like a theme park at times with just how many pools and activities are available. If you can afford it, this is the #1 place to stay for families on Oahu.

Why I recommend this hotel: Disney Aulani Resort combines luxury accommodation with family fun. A huge lazy river/tire tube lagoon is probably the highlight of the resort although the water slides and private beach aren’t too far behind. The kids club and massage center are just among a few of the many activities included in your stay. Attend ukelele lessons, free fire-pit story-telling at night and more and more! Your kids will never be bored and the quality of entertainment and facilities is just beyond amazing.

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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 AND WHY

A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?

Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018

The best Waterfalls: 11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII

Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII

Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII

My favorite experience on Oahu: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII

The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST

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