Just the other night, my wife arrived home from work around 6pm and as we both sat on our labtops and began to get bored, she came out of nowhere with the "do you wanna go hike" question? Of course I said yes, and we quickly prepared our stuff for yet another last minute hike. I quickly suggested Kamiloiki Ridge, since it's a pretty short hike and has good views from the summit, and my wife agreed and around 7pm we set off for Hawaii Kai.
Kamiloiki Ridge is a relatively short ridge hike (It took us a little over 2 hours) that begins in Hawaii kai at Pahua Heiau. The hike gives a bit of a workout but overall is very easy and does not present any major obstacles. Next to Mariners Ridge, I would put Kamiloiki as the easiest hike to the Koolau Summit (outside of Kamehame and possibly a few others I am forgetting). The views at the summit are amazing, looking down into Waimanalo and along the KST to your left towards Mariners ridge and Olympus and Konahuanui in the distance with Olomana looming just to the right of that. All in all, this is a pretty rewarding hike that is doable for just about any level of hiker.
As my wife and I arrived at the end of Makahuena Place, (Driving directions are at the bottom of the write-up) the road came to a dead end and we found a place to park. We grabbed our head lamps and headed for the where the road dead ends. At the dead end we found some stairs that went up and led directly to Pahua Heiau. On the far left of the Heiau, an obvious trail starts, going straight up into the woods. We felt a little awkward because to get directly to the trailhead it appeared that we had to walk through the heiau, so instead we walked around the far left side and came back to where the trail started. You have to keep your eyes open to find it, but it's pretty obvious once you see it and there should be ribbons to mark it. Immediately the trail began climbing up an obvious trail on a few short switchbacks and in no time we had reached the ridgeline with views directly behind of us of Koko crater and the city. As soon as we reached the ridge crest there was a trail going right and heading down and one going left and up towards the Koolau summit. The correct trail was obviously to the right and up but it is important to remember this junction for the way back so you don't go down the wrong trail. We almost continued straight and missed the junction so be aware of this and hopefully the ribbons are still in place to direct you.
As we began up the ridge, I was surprised by how maintained this trail was, considering that I only know of a few people who even know of it. I couldn't help but stumble along the ridge as I continuously glanced to my left and looked behind me to catch a glimpse of the beautiful city lights as we walked towards our goal. The trek became a little tougher as it went on and gained in elevation and the climbing just coming. We eventually strayed from the wide open ridge and entered a wooded area and the rest of the hike would continue to the summit through the wooded area. I love hiking at night but I much prefer the open ridges at night compared to the forested areas. The forested areas kind of creep me out and on this night I couldn't help but think about the Children of the Corn movie I remembered watching growing up.
I didn't see any side trails as we continued through the woods and we had no problem following the simple trail. As we began to get closer and closer to the summit, we accelerated our pace in anticipation of getting out of the "creepy wooded area" and next thing we knew, we had reached the Kamiloiki Ridge terminus and the Koolau Summit Trail, with gorgeous views of the windward side in front of us. As I set the camera up to take pictures, my wife grabbed her phone to play a game called words with friends. She denies it but I know that's what she was doing. After some relaxing and photo taking we made our way down the ridge and the views of the city lights and Koko Crater were just as amazing. We set a pretty slow pace and relaxed on the way down and still made it back to our car in under three hours. Kamiloiki Ridge turned out to be exactly what I thought it would be: a great trail for night hiking novices. If you want to hike at night and take some cool pictures, start here or at mariners Ridge. The views are better from Kamiloiki though. All in all, it was a great night and we got back to our car at a very reasonable time and I was excited knowing that there was a 7-eleven and a slurpee waiting for me just down the street.
Directions: Take Kalanianaole Hwy (coming from Waikiki) heading in the general direction of Hanauma Bay. Take a left on Lunalilo Home Road (the first left before reaching Hanauma bay, and the same left used to get to the Koko Crater hike). Next you will want to turn left on to Hawaii Kai Drive, and then make a right on Waioli Street, followed by a left on Makahuena Place. As Makahuena Place dead ends, some stairs and a heiau will be just in front of you, and this is where the trail starts. Park anywhere along the street here. As you are driving through these neighborhoods pay real close attention because the street signs suck and are hard to see (I do have horrible eye sight though) so just be vigiliant and you will not have to backtrack.