This was our second attempt at hiking Palehua Ridge in the Waianae Mountain Range. A week earlier, we had drove to the end of Umena Street at the top of Makakilo and had obtained the combination to the gate, which Camp Timberline changes every month, which soon lead to another locked gate, but no key. So we parked our truck and walked up and down the road in a frustrating attempt to find the trailhead. Not knowing that we had literally come within yards of the trailhead when we had walked to the top communications site. Luckily, the Palehua Ranch caretaker found us and politely told us that nobody is allowed to be walking on Palehua Road, as it’s considered private and leads to scores of homes sitting on land leased from the Campbell Estate. He told us that for a $100 deposit and signing a liability waiver form, he would give us the key to the second gate which would allow us to drive all the way to the top of the upper communications site where the trailhead was located. Being beat, we said we would do it another day, which was today. After we parked our van at the top, we found the trailhead, which is to the right of the communication buildings. The stairs lead us to a bamboo grove which leads to a knob called Mauna Kapu.
Reached the top of Maunu Kapu, which means “Sacred Mountain” in Hawaiian.
Scrambling through some large boulders stacked on top of each other, making it sort of a boulder tunnel.
Walking a narrow trail to the stand of pine trees in the distance. After we got within the pine trees, there is a large fenced area that we climbed over, I believe it’s meant to keep the feral pigs out.
Arrived at the summit of Palikea at 3,098 feet, which is marked by a clump of ti leaf plants. It took us about an hour to reach the summit, luckily the trailhead starts at about 2,200 feet, so we only gained about 800 feet in elevation. You can see Lualualei Valley and Makaha in the distance.
Looking back at where we came from, it’s the two communication towers poking up from the ridgeline in the middle. Soon after this, things took a turn for the worse. We got lost and were just trying to follow the fence and the colored ribbons fluttering from the tree branches. We were stumbling around for three hours, before we finally found our bearings and re-traced our steps back to the trailhead. We were trying to find the trail that is supposed to loop past an abandoned cabin and come out at the lower communications site.
Walking down the trail, we caught this great view of Pearl Harbor or Pu’uloa in Hawaiian, which means long hill, home to the shark goddess, Ka’ahupahau. Diamond Head and the Ko’olau Mountain Range can also be seen in the distance. This hike is relatively easy, as there is not much gain in elevation, as your car does most of the climbing up the mountain. Just don’t get lost, like we did. Then again, sometimes half the fun of hiking is just walking around and exploring, as long as you can get back and don’t have to call 911!