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Hiking North Shore Oahu: Everything You Need To Know

When most people think of the North Shore they think of pristine beaches, towering waves, and world-famous surf competitions. But there is another side to the North Shore that many people don’t know about – it’s hiking.

Hiking North Shore Oahu
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Hiking is a great way to explore the beautiful beaches and rugged terrain of this scenic island. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner, there are plenty of trails to choose from that offer stunning views and unique challenges.

Hiking North Shore Oahu

When it comes to hiking North Shore Oahu there are so many hikes to choose from. I’ve compiled 10 of the best hikes that the North Shore has to offer. To find the map on AllTrails, click the header or picture to be taken to all of the route information.

1. Ehukai Pillboxes

Hiking North Shore Oahu: Everything You Need To Know
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7 km)

Elevation Gain: 734 feet (224 meters)

Difficulty: Moderate

Time to Complete: 1 hour 15 minutes

Starting Point:

Summary: This hike starts out at a steep incline followed by a flat loop around the top of the hill. If it has rained in the last couple of days then expect the trial to be very muddy and slippery.

The view from the top is the view seen in the picture above. This trail is ranked the number one trail on the North Shore and is a must-do hike if you are staying on the North Shore and are looking for a little hike to start your day.

2. Waimea Valley Trail

top hikes in North Oahu
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 1.9 miles (3 km)

Elevation Gain: 272 feet (83 meters)

Difficulty: Easy

Time to Complete: 50 minutes

Starting Point: (Ticket Booth)

Summary: This hike is not free. It is $20 per adult and $12 per child. However, it is still worth it! This hike includes botanical gardens, a short hike, and a waterfall.

It is a paved hiking trail that is fairly steep so be prepared for that. It is also heavily trafficked so be prepared for crowds. There is a waterfall at the end of the trail that could be dry if it hasn’t rained recently.

3. Kaena Point Via Farrington Highway

best North Shore hiking
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 5 miles (8 km)

Elevation Gain: 226 feet (69 meters)

Difficulty: Easy

Time to Complete: 2.5 Hours

Starting Point:

Summary: This out and back trail is very straightforward and very popular. This hike will take you along beaches on one side and beautiful mountains on the other. If you are looking for a hike to get the perfect taste of Hawaii then this is it!

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Make sure to get an early start and bring lots of water because it gets hot very quickly on this trail and has no protection from the sun.

4. Kealia Trail

north shore oahu hiking
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 7.6 miles (12.2 km)

Elevation Gain: 2,516 feet (767 meters)

Difficulty: Moderate

Time to Complete: 4 Hours

Starting Point:

Summary: This trail is an amazing one. If you are planning on spending a decent amount of time on the North Shore or you just love hiking then this is the trail for you. It is not the most well-marked trail so make sure that you follow along on AllTrails or another hiking app.

This is a long hike so be prepared with a lot of water and the right hiking shoes. Trails can also be a little muddy if it has recently rained so make sure that your shoes have sufficient traction.

5. Kaunala Trail

hawaiis north shore hikes
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 5.2 miles (8.4 km)

Elevation Gain: 1,204 feet (367 meters)

Difficulty: Moderate

Time to Complete: 2.5 Hours

Starting Point:

Summary: Some of this hike is on a road so it is not all trails. The trail section of this hike though is worth it. You will be walking through a dense forest on a single-track trail (so basically every hiker’s dream).

The single track section of this hike is very overgrown with a lot of tree roots and gets very muddy when wet so prepare accordingly.

6. Turtle Bay to Kahuku Point

Hikes to do in Oahu
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7 km)

Elevation Gain: 134 feet (41 meters)

Difficulty: Easy

Time to Complete: 1 Hour

Starting Point:

Summary: This short hike is along the coastline and ends at the northernmost part of Oahu. When I did this hike there were not too many people on it and it was very relaxing to just walk along the white sand beaches and tidepools. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot a seal!

7. Peacock Flats and Three Corners Via Mokuleia Access Road

best viewpoints in northern oahu
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 10 miles (16 km)

Elevation Gain: 2,355 feet (718 meters)

Difficulty: Hard

Time to Complete: 5 Hours

Starting Point:

Summary: The whole hike up to the top of the mountain is on a paved road and is at a steady incline the whole way up. Once you reach the top of the mountain there will be a campsite which you will continue past where the trail finally flattens out.

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If you are looking for an amazing camping spot you can check out the Peacock Flats Campsite website to see if there is availability. All you have to do is create a login for the site and you are good to go. The cost is $12 per night for Hawaiians and $18 per night for non-Hawaiians.

8. Kuaokala Trail

North Shore hikes
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 4.7 miles (7.6 km)

Elevation Gain: 1,049 feet (320 meters)

Difficulty: Moderate

Time to Complete: 2.5 Hours

Starting Point: Take the 93 until you get to the Kaena Point Space Force Satellite Tracking Station.

Summary: This hike has a beautiful view of the ocean and mountains and you get to drive up the steepest part of the mountain. Make sure that if you do this hike after the rain you have shoes with good traction because the trails get really muddy.

This hike requires a permit so make sure that you go to this website first to book your reservation. Reservations are free, however, there is a $2.50 processing fee. Make sure to print out your reservation and bring it with you because it will be checked.

9. Poamoho Ridge Trail

waterfall hikes oahu
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)

Elevation Gain: 2,119 feet (646 meters)

Difficulty: Difficult

Time to Complete: 4 Hours

Starting Point: Take the 99 to Paalaa Uka Pupukea Rd. From there you will go to Plantation Rd (which is not marked on Google Maps). Follow that road to the end and that is where the hike starts.

Summary: The trail on this hike is only half the adventure. To get to the trail you will need to 4X4 for about 30-45 minutes and then you can start the hike. You will need a permit to go on the 4X4 road which you can fill out here.

The hike itself is not hard at all. It goes through the forest and has some incredible lookout spots. The only time it will be difficult is if it is muddy so be prepared!

10. Puu O Mahuka Heiau State Monument

beach hikes oahu
Photo Credit: AllTrails

Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)

Elevation Gain: 249 feet (75 meters)

Difficulty: Easy

Time to Complete: 1 Hour

Starting Point: Intersection of Pupukea Rd and Puu O Mahuka

Summary: This hike is right next to Waimea Bay Beach which is one of the most famous beaches on the North Shore. This hike gives you a great view of the beach and is the perfect way to start off a relaxing beach day.

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Parking is limited to 2 cars so if you are lucky enough to get there when a spot is open in front of the gate where the trail starts then you will have the whole hike to yourself!

Does Oahu Have Good Hiking?

Oahu has some of the most beautiful hikes in the world! Whether you are looking to hike along a white sand beach, through a dense jungle, or maybe just an amazing lookout point Oahu has it all!

The North Shore is not as famous for hiking but there are still some great ones. If you are looking for the top hiking spots, those are mostly going to be on the east side of the island where the mountains are huge and the views are incredible.

What is the Easiest Hike on Oahu?

If you are looking for a super easy hike that almost anyone can do on Oahu I would have to say to do the Turtle Bay to Kahuku Point hike. This hike is only 2 miles and has almost no incline or decline. The hike starts at the Turtle Bay Resort which has a lot of parking and ends at the northernmost point of Oahu the Kahuku Point.

This hike is along the ocean and has tidepools and lots of things to see along the way!

How long is Waimea Valley Hike and is it Hard?

Waimea Valley hike is only 2 miles long and is an out and back trail. There is an entrance fee for the hike so once you have paid that there is plenty of parking. From the entrance, you will get to walk through a botanical garden and at the end of the hike see a waterfall (if it has rained recently).

The Waimea Valley hike is not hard at all. Anyone from elderly people to children are able to do this hike. The hike is along a paved road so you don’t need to worry about tripping over roots or muddy trails. The only thing I would say is to bring some good walking shoes and you should be fine!

I hope that you found this post helpful and that your next trip to the North Shore involves a few hikes!

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Tuesday 10th of May 2022

I am going to North Shore in August. I can’t wait to try some of the trails you suggested. Thank you!