Hiking Oahu trails can be fun, but be sure to take some necessary precautions before venturing up. Before you go, prepare your hiking route. Maps and directions are available at hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov. Other measures to ensure your safety include being aware of your physical limitations, skills and energy levels; hiking with someone else; checking the weather forecast; wearing sturdy and comfortable shoes with good traction; and always stay on signed and managed trails, which are maintained and designated for public use.
The trail to the summit features many switchbacks that traverse the steep interior slope of the crater wall. The 560-foot ascent continues up steep stairs and through a lighted tunnel. At the top, views of the Pacific Ocean are endless. Open daily from 6 am to 6 pm, every day of the year including holidays. The last entrance to hike the trail is at 4:30 pm. The gates are locked at 6 pm daily and all visitors must be out of the park by this time.
Also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, the Lanikai Pillbox—which is a concrete guard post—hike leads to sweeping views of the windward coast. It’s an easy slope for novices looking for exercise.
Aiea Loop Trail
Inhale the citrus fragrance from lemon eucalyptus trees along this 4.8-mile path, which cuts through strands of Norfolk pine, native koa and ohi‘a trees. This trail runs along the ridge on the west side of Halawa Valley and offers views of the southern coastline of O‘ahu from Pearl Harbor (Pu‘uloa) and the Wai‘anae Range to Honolulu and Diamond Head (Le‘ahi).
The Kaena Point Trail occupies the right-of-way of the old Oahu Railway and Land Company that once transported sugar cane along the westernmost point of Oahu. The trail leads to Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, a remote protected area harboring some of the last vestiges of coastal sand dune habitat.
For a relatively easy hike that boasts spectacular views, be sure to trek the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. This two-mile (round trip) hike is kid-friendly and paved, except at the very top. On the clearest of days, you can see the islands of Molokai and even Maui.
Once used to deliver supplies to the military bunkers atop the crater during WWII, the trail is now frequented by avid hikers who must scale more than 1,048 railroad ties—or "steps"—to reach the pinnacle of this landmark.