Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kapilau Ridge (Maui) -- by Eric Stelene

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiast Archives
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 20:52:02 -1000
From: Eric Stelene (
Subject: Kapilau Ridge - West Maui

Kapilau is the towering ridge above Wailuku that separates Iao Valley and Waikapu Valley in the West Maui Mountains (pic at left and other pics in this post are courtesy of To get to the trailhead, head into Iao Valley toward the Needle. Come to a fork in the road with a sign pointing right to Iao Valley State Park. Go left instead. Almost immediately, reach a pull-off on the left. Walk up the road a short distance to a telephone pole with the number 5 on it. The trail starts right next to the pole.

Climb steeply, climb some more, then keep climbing. The trail's in good shape, but the climb is brutal. Eventually, the trail levels off in an open area with a large white cross (visible from all over central Maui). The cross is wooden and much smaller than the old cross at Kolekole Pass on Oahu. There is a rickety ladder leading up to one of the arms.

Past the cross, the trail narrows a little and is overgrown in some spots, but is still in pretty good shape. Kapilau Ridge starts at about 500 ft and climbs to an unnamed peak at 4,426 ft in about 2.5 miles. I made to about the 3,000 ft mark in about 2 hours when clouds and rain showers moved in discouraging further progress.

The views into Iao Valley are incredible. The Iao Needle looks like nothing more than a bump on a small ridge from up here. You can also see into two hike-able (is this a word?) valleys: A'e stream, and what I have named the "Needle Canyon". A side ridge ahead blocked any view in Waikapu Valley, but if you keep going to the top you will probably be standing on a knife-edge sperating the two valleys. The ridge was not very narrow up to the point I made it to, so you don't have to worry about falling to your death until you get a little higher.

I posted a picture of Iao Valley from the ridge at the following link. I labeled the Needle and the 2 hike-able valleys mentioned. Its definitly worth a look - a view of the Needle few ever see! Picture quality's a little poor. I got a free digital camera for signing up for Worstlink internet service.

Wahiawa to Lualualei via Kolekole Pass

Today (4 Aug 2001), accompanied by several hundred folks, including the J&J girls (Jackie and Jamie), I completed a 13.1-mile "hike...