How to Hike HAWAII LOA RIDGE trail

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: May 22, 2020

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In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know to hike HAWAII LOA RIDGE: Know Before You Go, What to Expect, Getting There, Facilities, and What to Bring.

Quick Details | Hawaii Loa Ridge

  • Island: OAHU
  • Limited parking (10 spots). ARRIVE EARLY!!!
  • To do this hike, the driver of the vehicle must have a HAWAII STATE DRIVER’S LICENSE.​
  • Resources: ​ Check out the Hawaii government website for the most up-to-date parking info & trail closures. 
    For the most up-to-date parking info & trail closures, check the Hawaii.gov website direct. This hike is Hawaii‘loa Ridge Trail​. The AllTrails app also provides information about this hike.

Important Information

  • Location: Hawaii Loa Ridge gated community. 
    *Note: I used the AllTrails app which linked to Google Maps. Check out the video for what the beginning of the trail head looks like.
  • Distance of Hike (per signage at hike, see photo): 7 Miles total (11.2 km)
    *Note: The app AllTrails lists this as 3.9 Miles (6.2 km) total hike. I thought this seemed a little too short after reading the AllTrails comments & completing the hike myself. I checked the Hawaii government website & the trail is actually 3.5 miles (5.6 km) EACH WAY making it a total of 7 miles (11.2km).  I am incredibly glad that I always pack extra water & snacks for all hikes….as this hike ended up being 2x the distance I had expected it to be. Always, always, ALWAYS double-check the distance of the hike with multiple sources. 
  • Distance from WAIKIKI:  8 miles (12.8 km), about a 15-minute drive
  • Parking: ​There are 10 parking stalls for this hike & you must have a permit.
  • Pet friendly?: Yes. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be leashed.
  • Restrooms?: No restrooms!

How to Get There

​What is the parking situation? 
At the start of the trailhead, there is a small parking lot. Only 10 parking permits for non-Hawaii Loa Ridge residents are given to park in this parking lot at a time – you are not allowed to park in the residential neighborhood. If you are the 11th car, you CANNOT do the hike until one of the first 10 cars comes out. You cannot wait parked in the residential gated community. You will need to return another time. I did this hike on a Thursday morning around 8-8:30am & we were the 3rd car. I have had several friends try to do the hike on a busy Saturday morning around 9:30am & have gotten turned away. 

What to Expect

What to Expect: START 
Where is the START of the trail?  
The trailhead for this hike is located in an upscale, high-end LUXURY gated community.  You will drive up to the gates & let the security guard know you are doing the HAWAII LOA RIDGE TRAIL HIKE. You & your passengers will be asked to sign a liability waiver for the hike.  The security guard will ask for your Hawaii state driver’s license & provide you with a paper permit to put on your car dashboard.


Hiking EARLY morning is best!

What to pack

  • Water. I brought 1.5 L in my “CamelBak” brand backpack bladder.
  • Hearty snacks. The hike was pretty exhausting as it is a RIDGE hike with mostly incline, and LOTS of stairs. I packed beef jerky, fruit, and high energy trail mix.
  • Sunscreen
  • For a more detailed HIKING PACKING LIST, click here.

What to Wear

  • Comfortable hiking clothes (workout clothes). For women, I would recommend wearing full pants leggings to your ankles (instead of capri leggings). Some of the shrubbery is a bit pokey & can scratch your calves a bit. There were also some mosquitos so the leggings helped protect my legs from bit by mosquitos.  I wore full pants black Lululemon leggings & a dry-fit style razorback tank top. 
  • Tennis Shoes / Runners are perfectly fine on a dry day. However, if it has been raining or look like it might rain, I would instead recommend proper hiking shoes or spikes to attach to your tennis shoes (see the video for why I say this)
  • Hat

The Review

This hike is definitely a WORKOUT. The trail is well-maintained, as shown in the photos & video above, so there is little chance of getting lost. This is an OUT & BACK trail. This means that you do the same route there, turn around, then come back the way you originally came.  It is a ridge hike so be prepared for incline.  There are lots & LOTS of stairs. Prepare for what feels like the never-ending StairMaster. The views are gorgeous & worth the entire hike.  When we got to the end of the hike, we were in the clouds. It never ceases to amaze me to literally be in the clouds. 

On the way back from the hike, it began to rain. This rain quickly turned into a downpour & we realized why the trail was shaped the way it was – the rain shaped it. We took our time on the way back as we were in no rush & wanted to do the hike as safely as possible. 


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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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