Hailey Minton

Writer. Photographer. Explorer.

January 19, 2018 · 3 min read

An intense and epic ridge hike near Ka’a’awa

Although it is difficult and strenuous, the views are very rewarding!

All the oxygen seemed to vanish when I rounded a corner to get my first view of the Ka‘a‘awa valley. Light from the afternoon sunshine amplified the green vibrancy of the valley. The clouds cast spotted shadows and the humidity reflected light along mountain tops. This moment is the reason this hike made it to my list of favorites.



The fork:

We began the hike and after about 5 minutes of hiking we got to a fork. There is a memorial cross next to the left trail this leads to the ridge trail. To get to the falls, take the trail to the right. 

The cross is on the left of the trail. You can see it covered in red flowers. Photo by Hailey Minton

The waterfall:

We began the hike intending to find Makaua Falls. Sweat dripped down our necks and backs as we climbed upward on a steep ridge. Leia said, “I guess you could say we found our inner waterfall.” Water doesn’t always flow at the actual falls. If the weather has been dry, chances are it will be dry. When we hiked the ridge, the falls were dry. Click here for more info on the waterfall hike.  


I had a friend who hiked it on a rainy day and the falls were flowing. Be aware it can be very dangerous to hike in canyons when it rains though. Flash floods can come on quick on rainy days. I have heard several stories of people dying or getting into very precarious situations from hiking up narrow canyons to get to waterfalls. Watch the weather.  

The ridge hike

Dizzying views from along the ridge combined with the steep incline left us breathless. This ridge hike is not for intermediate hikers. We explored around a bunker, enjoyed the view of surfers catching waves out beyond the reef, and kept our eye out for the waterfall we suspected was in the in valley north of us. (SURFING SPOTS OUT THERE ACCORDING TO THE MAP)We hiked it in early december and there were purple flowers in bloom. The trail had just a couple parts that were slightly overgrown but it didn’t last for more than 50 yards.


You won’t hike very far up the ridge trail before you face steep inclines. Some parts have loose, crumbly rock and dirt. Other parts require some basic rock climbing skill. The majority of the hike is steep. I would not recommend this hike for children.



There is a bunker partway up the hike. We stopped here to soak in the view for a bit.

Although it is difficult and strenuous, the views are very rewarding! Especially the view of the Ka’a’awa valley at the top of the ridge. This ridge overlooked is a part of Kualoa ranch. Lost, Jurassic park, Pearl Harbor, and even the newest Jumanji have scenes shot in this valley. The patterns of the reef submerged beneath the ocean to the east of us were also gorgeous. We could see where a channel had formed and the sparse patches of coral in the deeper and more intensely turquoise water. 

Trailhead and parking

The hike started at the end of the road just north of the Ka‘a‘awa fire station. The trailhead is at the end of the cul de sac and is marked by a white post with “trail” painted on it. We drove to the end of the road and parallel parked in an empty space next to a hedge. There aren’t a lot of parking options. There is a beach across the highway with plenty of parking you could easily walk to the trailhead from.