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Mo'ole Ridge to Lanihuli

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

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, and 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 at 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 90s about a couple of HTMC hikers who partially finished the ridge, but bailed out way before reaching Lanihuli.

Wondering if anybody successfully ascended to Lanihuli.

Our clearing day went pretty well. 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 the 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 to 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 break 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 of 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 webbing. The drop was about 20ft, very crumbly, so we figured better be safe than sorry.

We managed pretty quickly to climb down, and after retracting 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, were 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 rougher than 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 at 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 a couple of minutes of being on top, and having some smiles of accomplishment, it 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 shot a YouTube video about the whole journey, so if you are curious, you can check that out here:



Team: Krissy, Steve, and Nandor (Me)

Distance: Around 6 miles

Hiking Time: 6.5h

Please don't use this documentation as a guide for your future hiking activities. This hiking route it's unsafe and very dangerous, mistakes made up here can have consequences such as serious injury or death. Make sure you know your limitations and be safe out there!

Tags: #hiking #hawaiihiking #extremehiking #adventures #moolevalley #koolaumountains

2 comments

2 Comments


Dayle Turner
Dayle Turner
Dec 31, 2021

Good job, Nandor and company. I was in that group of HTMCers who ascended the ridge part of the wa.y. I do know that the late Don Fox and Pete Caldwell descended the ridge from Lanihuli.

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Nandor Szotak
Nandor Szotak
Dec 31, 2021
Replying to

Mahalo Dayle! I am just curious what was the reason that you guys did not continue? Oh, so somebody actually descended the ridge, nice.

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