For a long time I believed that Mariners Ridge had to be the easiest route to the Koolau Summit. Well, I was definetly wrong. Kamehame Ridge, located in the back of the Kamehame subdivision in Hawaii Kai, is by far the shortest and easiest way to access the Koolau Summit that I am yet to have found. It took me about twenty minutes to reach the top of the ridge and about ten minutes to get down, all while moving at a pretty casual pace. My guess would be that the entire trek is less than 2 miles round trip. The hike up was via a gravel road that we followed all the way to the top of the ridge. As the gravel road ended we were greeted by a fence. We headed just to the right and to the cliffs edge and were greeted by the sensational views of the blue and aqua colored waters of Waiamanlo Beach. We took in the views and I was very pleased that the sun was beaming down on the ocean, making the color of the water look even more impressive. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in shortly after, and the gleaming colors of the ocean dissapated a little, but the views were still jaw dropping.
By heading left or right at the fence line where the gravel road ends you will be able to head further up the ridge (this is of course optional) and shortly after will reach an old missile silo that serves as a cellular phone tower site now. It's an interesting place to walk around and you can climb up the towers and walk into the buildings if you really want. Heading further up the ridge will take you to Kamiloiki Ridge eventually and the Makapuu Tom-Tom junction that heads down into Waimanalo. Also, from where the gravel road ends, if you back track for about a minute, just before you arrive back at the building that you saw on your right hand side on your way up (this is a rehabilitation center for young teens trying to get their lives back on track, from what I have gathered) you will encounter some pink ribbons and a trail on the ocean side, heading up. If you follow the trail up for about twenty seconds, you will then come to some concrete stairs, which will take you to the hang glider launch pad after about another thirty seconds. This is where a lot of the hang gliders you see over Makapuu, launch from. There will be a green astroturf platfrom that will mark the launch pad. This is a great, open area to sit and admire the beauty of what is now in front of you. Grab some water, talk story, and soak it all in before heading back down to the start of the trail.
In the past I had heard stories if this being on private property and it being a no trespassing trail. When I arrived at the gate on this day, there sure enough, was a no trespassing sign on the gate and just to the right of the gate was a security car with a guard inside of it. With my friends from out of town with me and wanting them to be able to do a short and non time consuming hike, I decided to walk up to the security guard and ask him if I could go up. When I did so, I was very surprised with his response. He told me, "you can go if you'd like, I'm not gonna stop you". He then smiled, started his car and drove away. We of course grabbed our stuff and headed up the gravel road. As we were walking up the road a service car was driving down. We inched our way to the right side of the road so he could pass but I couldn't help but feel a little worried about getting chewed out or told to leave. As the man drive by with his window down, I threw him the shaka, he smiled and waived and said "have a good day", and then proceeded to the gate, which he opened, drove through and then left. I'm not sure if you are suppose to be on this trail or not but from my experience on this day, it doesn't seem that anybody really cares. I think the key is to just be respectful and quiet and if someone does stop you, just simply say i'm sorry and tell them you will leave and then do so. I really don't think anyone should have problems accessing this trail though. I think the property belongs to Kamehameha Schools and that they have now leases the property out, but I don't know this to be a fact. With all that aside, this is a stroll that is suitable for kids of all ages and would be a hike that I would recommend for anyone whos cardio is not the best and who is just beginning hiking hear on Oahu. The views all along Makapuu Ridge are some of my favorite and the views along this stretch are no different. This is a great bang for your buck hike.
Directions: Head East on Kalanianaole Hwy as if you were going to Hanauma Bay. You will want to take a left onto Lunalilo Home Road, just before actually reaching Hanauma Bay (you will now see Koko Crater just in front of you). Next you will want to make a right onto Hawaii Kai Drive. After that turn left onto Maunanani Street, followed by a right onto Kamehame Drive shortly after. Drive all the way to the end of Kamehame Drive and park along the street. Where Kamehame Drive dead ends, there will be a little gate with a no trespassing sign on it. Walk around the gate and follow the paved gravel road to the top of the ridge.