top of page

Mo'ole Ridge to Lanihuli

By Nandor Szotak - May 25th 2020

mo'ole ridge
Mo'ole Ridge in front of us

Sometimes I just sit down in front of the computer, log in to my Gaia account, open the topographic map and start looking for new possible ridges to climb. That's how I found this ridge which runs almost parallel with Kapalama Ridge and the Pali Highway. Usually when I find an interesting, possibly doable ridge, I start looking for write ups, old blogs, to see if anybody did that actual route. That's what I did when I decided to try and hike Mo'ole Ridge, but with not much luck.

One day I asked Steve if he would like to come with me to clear the first section of the hike to basically scout it. To my surprise, he was exactly on the start of the same route a week before, so he was very excited to tag along. I contacted Scott, who loves clearing new trails, and he joined us too. Meantime Scott found some older articles from the 90's about couple HTMC hikers who partially finished the ridge, but bailed out way before reaching Lanihuli.

Wondering if anybody actually successfully ascended all the way to Lanihuli.

Our clearing day went pretty good. We cleared the first section, all the way up to this nice flat, tree covered spot on the top of the ridge. The trail is ready to be used for a next adventure!

Fast forward to the actual hiking day, I found myself working on Memorial Day, but finished super early, so I contacted Steve if he wants to go for Mo'ole Ridge. I convinced Krissy to join us too, and by noon we were ready to roll in Nu'uanu.

The first section we cleared a week before went fast, even with high humidity and heat. We were able to push through the recently cleared trail pretty efficiently. After taking a short brake on the top, the road to the unknown started.

rock wall on moole ridge
A mini Witch's Hat from Kalihi saddle?

The view was very exciting! The steep rock wall in front of us reminded me some obstacles on Kalihi Saddle. Instead of climbing the wall, we had to kind of contour it around in the bushes, which took all the fun away.

rock wall on mo'ole ridge
Clear views all the way to Honolulu

The views were still pretty awesome!

Getting over this first pu'u, required the use of a webbing. The drop was about 20ft, very crumbly, so we figured better be safe than sorry.

We managed pretty quick to climb down, and after retracted our webbing we continued up the ridge.

From here we followed a pig trail through the uluhe which lead us to this nice guava, ironwood section, where I think the HTMC hikers dropped into the valley, because they didn't want to deal with the upcoming 30ft drop.

Ohh yeah, that drop was so much worst than the 1st one.

It was all crumbly rocks, overgrown with vegetation. Wherever I put my feet, was just falling apart....

Took a little longer than the first down climb, but all of us made it down safely.

At this point we were still excited, but we already knew that the trail is going to be more rough than what we expected.

selfie hungaro explorer
We were still happy here after managed the climb down the 30ft drop
View of Mo'ole Valley
View of Mo'ole Valley
hungaro explorer on moole ridge
Overgrowth here it' just until the knees, not bad..

The upcoming section was more of a regular bushwhack. It was all hiking through uluhe fern, thankfully not the head high ones, but more of the low, knee high ones.

hikers on moole ridge
All that ridge is behind us!

Shortly we arrived to this huge landslide area. Traversing it was a bit tricky because we had to stay on the edge, balancing through the side of the landslides without falling.

landslide moole ridge
Approaching a huge landslide section

Krissy is enoying the views...or taking a break?

koolau mountains
Mo'ole Ridge Left, Kapalama Ridge Right

Further we hiked in towards Lanihuli, the terrain got more overgrown and much steeper.

Time to make an "ulucave"

At one point, we got to a very narrow section which was pretty hard to climb. Sometimes the ridge just felt vertical with only some vegetation to hold onto.

hiker on narrow ridge
Best narrow section right under Lanihuli peak

moole ridge panorama
Looking back at our ridge, doesn't look too bad...

Finally we made it!

Huh, what a hard way to climb Lanihuli. Probably it was still a bit easier than the approach from Nukohe Ridge, but definitely not a walk in the park.

Mo'ole valley
Our way back to civilization

Just after couple minutes being on the top, having some smiles of accomplishment, and started raining on us. It was time to move.

For the return route we choose to do the faster Mo'ole Valley instead of the longer Kapalama ridge.

Another day, another interesting route.

moole loop track
Mo'ole Loop

I actually shot a YouTube video about tour journey, so if you are curious, you can check that out here:

Mo'ole Ridge to Lanihuli (video)

Team: Krissy, Steve and Nandor (Me)

Distance: Around 6 miles

Hiking Time: 6.5h