I did the Olomana trail (also known as Three Peaks) for the first time back in 2014. I was stoked to revisit beautiful Mt. Olomana when I finally returned to the beautiful island of Hawai’i. Unfortunately, a young man fell down the third peak and died back in April 2018, which made me rethink doing the whole hike again. The hike is one of the more dangerous hikes on Oahu and a few people have fallen off the steep drop-offs on the ridge and died. In fact, the mountain has taken three lives the last 4 years, and the hike is therefore NO JOKE guys.
Did I Go Again?
Well .. Yes. BUT I chose to only do the first peak (Olomana). Call me a wuss, but I know my boundaries, and I don’t need to gamble with my life. At least not this time around. I might do the second peak next time when I have more time, as it is not much more challenging than the first peak. I’m not sure that I’ll ever do the third peak. Time will tell.
I have been told that the view from the first peak is just as great as any of the other peaks, since it is the highest point. So if you don’t feel like gambling with your life don’t be too proud to call it a day from the first or second peak, like I did. The third Peak is way more challenging and technical and is only for the more advanced hikers.
Why Should You Go?
Mt. Olomana is in my opinion a very special hike, no matter if you choose to do first, second or third peak. The hike has absolutely breathtaking views and if you choose to go before sunset the Ko’olua Range tend to create crepuscular rays bursting through the clouds down to the valley below, which is a pretty magical sight! Be aware that you need to walk through a country club gate, which close at 4pm. If the guard is having a good day, he will let you pass. As the guard told us “I won’t run after you“. The gate will be closed when you come back, but you can just walk around the gate to the right.
Olomana hike is relatively easy at first, but the trail quickly turns into a steep incline, which will last the entire way up. The hike to the first peak is about 1,5 miles long and takes approximately 1,5 hours. The surroundings changes along the way and you will hike through lush rainforest, alpine-like forest with rhododendrons as well as dry dirt areas.
Pc: Phil Schlieder
Around 30 min into the hike you meet the first climbing section among many. Ropes are dangling down from past hikers to assist the steepest sections. The most technical climb for the first peak is right before you reach the top. Here you will need to climb a 10-15 foot vertical section using the old ropes to pull yourself up. For some parts you’ll have to trust the old ropes and whoever put them there with your life, which is scary in itself. The rock sections are manageable, but those with fear of heights may find them too much, especially the last climb. Don’t expect a full-on rock climbing experience, but rater a lot of rock scrambling and rope-grasping. The closer to the top you get, the more narrow the trail gets and the more careful you need to be.
After the climb you’ll reach the top of the first peak. The views from up here is amazing and worth every climb and sore muscle. You will be rewarded with 360 degree views of the windward coast from Kailua to Makapu’u. If you look south from the summit, you will see the magnificence Ko’olau Ridge, which is my favorite view.
Hawaiian myths has it that Olomana (name of the first peak) was a giant warrior who ruled the lands from Makapu’u to Kualoa. The mountain was formed when the King of Oahu, Ahuapau, sent one of his best warriors, Palila, to battle Olomana. During the battle, Palila, sliced Olomana in half. It it said his upper torso landed near the ocean while the bottom portion became Mt Olomana (Steerling and Summers, 1993).
What to bring
You don’t need to bring a lot, no matter how many peaks you decide to do. The most important thing is to bring water and keep yourself hydrated. Shoes with a good grip is important for the rocky parts. Bug spray is obviously not a must but it is good to have, especially if you are a mosquito magnet like me.
How to get there
The hike is located close to Kailua. If you arrive by car you will need to find street parking since you can’t park directly at the trailhead. If you take the bus from Honolulu you need to take bus 56 or 57. The bus stop is called Kalanianaole Hwy + Auloa Rd, which is the same place as you would have parked if you had a car.
It is around a 15 min walk to the actual trailhead. You will have to walk through a country club gate to the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club. If you keep walking down the road you will reach the trailhead, which is quite noticeable with a small sign saying “Olomana Trail”. Happy Hike guys!