Ko'olau Range

The awe-inspiring Ko`olau Mountain Range, which dominates the eastern half of the island of Oahu, Hawaii, was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1972.

Oahu’s Ko`olau Range is a must-stop destination for travelers searching for solitude, tranquility and exquisite panoramic landscapes. The mountains provide endless opportunities for climbing, hiking, and backpacking the verdant Hawaiian hills. Visitors can also enjoy a scenic drive along the eastern coast of Oahu to take in the majestic range. It’s an easy, short drive from the Honolulu Airport.

Fun Fact: The Ko`olau Mountains are not a traditional mountain range; the mountains are what remains of the island’s eastern volcano.

About Ko'olau Range

This massive range is actually what remains of the western half of the Ko`olau Volcano. The eastern half of the original volcano was destroyed in prehistoric times when it fell off into the Pacific Ocean.

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Today the Ko`olau Mountain Range shapes Oahu’s dramatic coastline and rises behind the city of Honolulu. The volcano was expected to have reached a height of more than 10,000 feet in elevation.

helicopter flying over hawaii

photo credit: Hawaii.com via Facebook

Pro Tip: Not many hikers camp overnight, but if you do, pack plenty of water as most streams are hard to find.

At only 3,150 feet, the Koolaus run north-west, stretching from Oahu’s southeast point (Makapu`u) to its northeast point (Kahuku), a distance of about 35 miles.

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What's more, the wilderness range is overgrown and scarcely maintained with lush forests and ocean vistas. The southern trails start on the western side of the mountains. On the northern side, there are many accessible trails on both sides. One of the north trails, the Ko`olau Summit, is a nice trail that runs the summit ridge.

Pro Tip: The remote, under-managed trails can be muddy and dense; long pants and hardy hiking boots are a must.

In addition, Ko`olau’s primary peaks are the Konahuanui (3,150 feet), Puu Keahi a Kahoe (2,820 feet), and Puu Lanihuli (2,770 feet).

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Consequently, the most well-known trail is the Manana Ridge Trail to Ko`olau Summit, a 9.8 mile out and back trail. This moderate to challenging hike near Pearl City, Oahu, highlights a waterfall and is accessible year-round. Officials allow well-behaved dogs on leashes.

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