Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Loop Trail

View from the second peak.

While on vacation in Hawaii I was super pumped to get in a nice trail run. Here’s how it went.


Distance 5.3 miles
Elevation gain 2326 ft
Average grade 12%(!)
Duration 2:32:43
Temperature 75F
Humidity 87%
Strava Link
AllTrails Link
Viewed on Google Earth.
Elevation profile.


Nutrition requirements

I’m trying to be more precise about fueling requirements, which will become much more important doing longer runs training for target races. If you know of a standard way of computing water/calorie needs given the parameters of a run (e.g. distance, vert, temperature), please let me know!


Things I wish I had


First and foremost let me admit my planning mistake – this is not a trail running trail.

The first climb was very intense from the get go. It felt like going straight up for a long time. It didn’t help that I was in my road running shoes. After a few hundred feet straight up, I was rewarded with some nice views on the ridge.

View from the first ridge.

Due to the humidity and intensity of the climb, I was pretty much immediately drenched in sweat. I have learned this is the unavoidable reality of trail running in Hawaii.

The trail was very overgrown. I regretted wearing shorts. It was uncomfortable, but fortunately no plants were sharp enough to do any real damage.

Close to the top of the ridge, there are a few steep sections with ropes that required scrambling. I could not imagine doing these in reverse (downhill), especially if things were even a bit rainy and wet. Gloves are highly recommended.

Clouds completely covered the first summit, but once I got across the ridge to the top of the popular Kuli’ou’ou Ridge hike, the views were stunning.

The descent down the eastern ridge was the complete opposite of the ascent – mostly wide, well maintained paths with stairs. I started my first real trail running of the trip here, though there were still lots of rocks and roots to look out for.

The descent.

This part of the trail is the far more popular Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail, which meant there were quite a few hikers coming up as I was coming down. One thing I’ve started doing as a trail runner is anytime I am remotely close to a hiker, I slow down and just start hiking about their speed.

Hawaii is a super beautiful place for trail running with unique challenges, and I’m super psyched to do some more of it next time I’m here!

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