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PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE

PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE

Pride Rock is one of the best sunrise viewpoints on Oahu taking just 30-minutes to reach and offering incredible views of the Kualoa Mountains and the Kaneohe Region. However, if you continue on the trail past Pride Rock, this challenging and technical route will lead you up the narrow ridge to the summit of Pu’u Ohulehule.

This is one of the tougher hiking routes on Oahu due to the technical nature of the terrain. With 900 meters of incline over the nine-kilometer journey, it took us seven hours to complete the point-to-point route. The Pride Rock hike is for all levels but the Pu’u Ohulehule hike is for experienced hikers looking for a technical challenge.

PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE

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.

PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE DETAILS

  • Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 9km for the point-to-point hike with Pride Rock and Pu’u Ohulehule or just 3km round-trip for Pride Rock only.
  • Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 5-7 hours for the full point-to-point hike with Pride Rock and Pu’u Ohulehule or just 1.5 hours round-trip for Pride Rock only.
  • Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 900 meters or just 260m for Pride Rock only.
  • Hike Difficulty: This hike is one of the toughest on the island of Oahu due to the incline, technical terrain, rope-climbing, big drop-offs, thick overgrowth and long duration. For experienced hikers only. Pride rock by itself is one of the easier hikes on Oahu and can be done by most hikers.

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HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD

The trailhead to the Pride Rock hike is at the end of Haupoa Street in the Waikanae suburb on the east coast of Oahu. If you are doing just the Pride Rock hike, you can simply park your car at the trailhead and you will return the same way for the out-and-back hike. However, if you do the Pu’u Ohulehule point-to-point hike, you will finish at the Kahana Bay parking lot.

This means you can plant a car at Kahana Bay and one at the trailhead on Haupoa Street. The other option is to finish at Kahana Bay and catch the bus back as we did. The bus stops are conveniently placed so it is quite easy to use the bus to bring you back to your car.

MY EXPERIENCE ON THE PRIDE ROCK TO PU’U OHULEHULE HIKE

After parking in Haupoa Street and setting off into the forest our hike was underway. The trail to Pride Rock is quite short and only takes about 30 minutes to reach. However, it is quite steep for the entirety of the short trail and even requires a few short rope sections. When it has been raining, the trail is slippery.

It’s one of the best easy hikes on the island with postcard-like tropical views and those jagged ridges Hawaii is so famous for. I’d highly recommend this short jaunt up to Pride Rock for any hikers with a basic level of fitness.

Don’t underestimate this little hike as it is a little bit more intense than other short hikes like the Lanikai Pillbox Trail or Diamond Head Crater. It’s a great idea to head up to this viewpoint for sunrise as you will have incredible views of Kaneohe Sandbar, the Kualoa Mountains, and the Historical Hawaiian Fish Ponds.

Pride Rock is a little rocky outcrop that juts out from the ridge. It’s a popular spot for people to sit with the Kualoa Mountain Ridge in the background. It’s a beautiful, scenic spot and a perfect little plateau to race up to for sunrise.

For most people, this is where the journey ends. However, for those pushing on to Pu’u Ohulehule, this is where the adventure begins. From this point on, the trail follows a narrow ridge, which is actually an exposed lava tube. This makes it quite a unique trail with the lava rock pathway providing relatively reliable steps for much of the route.

The trail continuously becomes denser and begins to get a little wild. The lava tube starts deteriorating in strength and often the route involves small diversions to either side. Trail conditions are rough with considerable erosion. However, the biggest challenge is the rotting, termite-infested trees. Often a tree is a great hand-hold to secure you on the trail but on this route, many trees simply collapse on touch and it’s hard to trust any of them.

Views over the Fish Ponds and out to Chinaman’s Hat start to become more and more frequent much to our delight. The breeze on the exposed lava tube track helped to cool us off from being in the hot and humid undergrowth. It’s genuinely one of the most scenic trails on the island.

The exposure of the ridge is usually just on the right-hand side although there are moments where you are fully exposed with smaller drops. As you can see in the photo below, there is little room for error but the path is wide with foliage on the inside for safety and balance. The exposure was similar to many ridge hikes or segments of the Koolau Summit Trail. The path is more than wide enough and with sure footing, there should be minimal risk of falling off the path.

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.

What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my 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.

Despite the distance only being 3km from the trailhead all the way to the Pu’u Ohulehule summit, it is very slow going. This is due to the thick forest, overgrown trail, incline, and technical terrain. We were moving at a snail’s pace gaining just one kilometer per hour. However, we were in no rush and enjoyed taking in the views and snapping some photos.

The trail was a combination of being off the lava-tube ridge, battling through thick undergrowth, and out on the exposed lava tube with great views and a breeze. We kept looking up at Pu’u Ohulehule, which seemed deceptively close but the summit was in fact, quite far away.

There are a number of rope-climbing sections on the ascent. The ropes are old and the trail is very unstable. We actually had a large rockfall, which luckily only clipped us and could have been much worse. We aborted one of the rope climbs and found a lightly trafficked side path around one of the spires. I would suggest using the side paths as much as possible as I don’t trust the crumbly lava-rock or the old ropes on this route. If you do climb up the ropes, do not stand underneath your fellow climber as rockfall is likely.

After four hours, we finally reached the summit of Pu’u Ohulehule. The views down into Kualoa Ranch and all the way out to Kaneohe Sandbar were truly incredible. This hike quickly rose up my list of the top challenging trails on Oahu. Just before the summit, there is a small plateau. However, on the actual summit itself is a dense tree covering with no real viewpoint. I’d suggest stopping just before the summit to sit down and have a bit to eat while enjoying the view. I took a few photos on the longer lens of the sandbar and beautiful shades of blue in the ocean.

The journey down is an interesting decision. We didn’t really fancy taking the route back down via Pride Rock due to the slippery terrain and tough time we had on the ascent with falling rocks. Therefore, we decided to descend down the northern side of the peak and head into Kahana Bay via Nakoa Trail.

This route is still very steep but has consistent ropes that I found in good working order. There are no rock walls to descend just muddy slopes with the aid of the ropes. Unfortunately, this trail was incredibly overgrown and a pair of pants would have been much better than shorts and a tank top. That’s often the case on the wild trails of Oahu.

We were a bit pressed for time so I snapped a few photos of our descent on the phone and enjoyed the journey. It took us about three hours to make our way all the way through the forest back out to the beach at Kahana Bay. Here we caught the bus back to Haupoa Street to complete our loop and make it back to the car.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Pride Rock hike and the Pu’u Ohulehule Hike. Stay safe and happy hiking.

OTHER HIKES NEARBY ON OAHU

The other hikes nearby that you may be interested in are:

Crouching Lion: A short hike with great views over Kahana Bay

Pu’u Piei: A challenging loop on the other side of Kahana Bay with basic bouldering

Chinamans Hat: A kayak out to the small island is followed by a very short hike to the top.

CROUCHING LION HIKE ON OAHU, HAWAII
chinamans hat

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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.

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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!