Kuaokala Trail

Image Credit uchida.micah|https://www.flickr.com/photos/uchidasan/11610100513
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Phone (808) 973-9782
Address Satellite Access Road, Waialua, HI 96791
Moderately difficult hike up on the mountain at Oahu's northwest point.

• General: Camping • General: Cost: Paid • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Length: 2-3 Miles
• Hiking: Level: Moderate • Hiking: Major Elevation Changes • Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Hiking: Ridge Hike • Sightseeing: Great Views
• Sightseeing: Whale Watching • Vehicle Activities: Biking

The Kuaokala Trail is a 2.5 long (each way, so 5 miles round trip), out and back style hike along near the northwest point of O'ahu. The trail is well maintained and the hike is generally considered to be of a moderate difficulty, mostly due to the overall length and elevation gains along the way.

To get to the trailhead, you'll first drive along the Farrington Highway on Oahu's west coast. You'll take the road towards Keawa'ula Beach (Yokohama Beach) and the Ka'ena Point Bird Sanctuary (along with the Ka'ena Point Trail - West Shore) but turn right right before Keawa'ula Beach (Yokohama Beach).

That turn is the Satellite Access Road which will have a guard station so you'll first need a permit to get through. Go online before you plan to hike and get a permit at eHawaii.gov. You'll need to make sure you have proper ID (driver's license), current insurance card, and a current safety sticker on your vehicle.

Why a permit? This area is run by the military who have taken over huge portions of O'ahu with very few places they'll let the average citizen into. Note that the military may shut this access down on some days, most notably during the RIMPAC exercises in July (understandable) and possibly others days like September 11. Why? Who knows. It's the military, they do what they want and generally answer to nobody!

Assuming you got through the gate, you'll head up a switchback road. When you reach the next guard station (on your left) you'll turn right and proceed past the Kaena Point Tracking Station. The road will then curve left, essentially making a u-turn. Shortly after will be an intersection with a parking area. Park there and head down the road to the right (the road that intersected with the one you were on). Our map / directions page marks this point. Side note, some hikers also access this trail from the Kealia Trail on the north shore.

You also finally got to see those giant "golf balls" on the mountain. So what are they? Inside are instruments that track satellites, and thus the name Ka'ena Point Satellite Tracking Station. The installation, built by the U.S. Air Force, was created in 1959 and tracks and issues commands to orbiting satellites.

The trailhead starts out at around 1,150 feet above sea level so you've made most of your elevation gains during your drive up. Along the way you'll climb to a maximum height of around 1,800 feet for an overall elevation gain of 650 feet over the trail.

The trail runs through the Kuaokala Forest Reserve which was established in 1913 to protect a spring near Manini Gulch.

Over time, various trails were developers by forestry workers, ranchers, and hikers and today one of those is the Kuaokala Trail.

Views along the way can be pretty spectacular. Ocean views here are impressive to say the least and if it's whale season you stand a good chance of seeing some whales out there in the big blue. Mountain views during the hike are just as impressive, especially as you near the end of the hike.