10 Best Hiking Trails In Hawaii

Updated on: February 2023

Best Hiking Trails In Hawaii in 2023

Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession

Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession
BESTSELLER NO. 1 in 2023

Fodor's Maui: with Molokai & Lanai (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Maui: with Molokai & Lanai (Full-color Travel Guide)
BESTSELLER NO. 2 in 2023

Fodor's Kauai (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's Kauai (Full-color Travel Guide)
BESTSELLER NO. 3 in 2023

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map)
BESTSELLER NO. 4 in 2023
  • Approximately 4 1/4" x 9 1/4" folded; 25.5" x 37.75" fully opened
  • Scale = 1:100,000 & 1:42,000
  • Map Revised - 2000
  • Features Included: the entire national park area, including Kilauea Caldera, Makaopuhi Crater, Napau Crater, Chain of Craters East Rift Zone, Kapapala, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Wilderness, Kea'au, and an inset of the Island of Hawaii.
  • Waterproof

Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook

Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook
BESTSELLER NO. 5 in 2023

Best Easy Day Hikes Hawaii: The Big Island (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)

Best Easy Day Hikes Hawaii: The Big Island (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)
BESTSELLER NO. 6 in 2023

Frommer's EasyGuide to Maui (EasyGuides)

Frommer's EasyGuide to Maui (EasyGuides)
BESTSELLER NO. 7 in 2023

The Hikers Guide to Oahu: Updated and Expanded (A Latitude 20 Book)

The Hikers Guide to Oahu: Updated and Expanded (A Latitude 20 Book)
BESTSELLER NO. 8 in 2023

Kauai Trailblazer Where to Hike, Snorkel, Bike, Paddle, Surf (Trailblazer Travel Books)

Kauai Trailblazer Where to Hike, Snorkel, Bike, Paddle, Surf (Trailblazer Travel Books)
BESTSELLER NO. 9 in 2023

Maui Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Snorkel, Surf, Drive on Maui, Molokai, Lanai (Trailblazer Travelbooks)

Maui Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Snorkel, Surf, Drive on Maui, Molokai, Lanai (Trailblazer Travelbooks)
BESTSELLER NO. 10 in 2023

Tragedy Averted on Mount Olomana

On a fateful Sunday in 2004, my wife and another hiker fell off a steep perilous mountainside while hiking in Hawaii. Both survived.

Mel Yoshioka was the first to fall, doing so while descending the steep precipitous backside of the second of Olomana's three peaks. He fell to the inland-facing side of the mountain, "taking out four trees" as he careened down the mountainside, according to Mike Algiers, a member of our hiking group who was ahead of Mel on the descent at the time.

At that moment, the group I was with, which included my wife Jacque, was making the final approach to the summit of Peak 3, having just made our way past a narrow, perilous section called "hole-in-the-rock" and having negotiated a steep fixed-roped section just past that.

As were making our way carefully along, I stopped when I heard loud
crashing thru the trees behind me back toward Peak 2. At first, I thought it was a boulder someone had dislodged. Although I'd heard the sobering sound before, it was different this time because interspersed with the sounds of impact on trees and bushes and rocks were screams from a human voice. "My God," I thought, "someone had fallen."

My heart sank at that moment. But there was also an adrenaline rush. Who was it? Could he (or she) possibly have survived that fall?

I yelled out to those near me, including Jacque who was just ahead of me, that someone had fallen and that we should head back toward the saddle between Olomana's second and third peaks. I then realized that in our angst and adrenaline-laden state we were moving hastily down the ridge. Not wanting another accident, I told Jacque and others within earshot not to rush, especially along the narrow and sheer ridge of Peak 3. "We can't help the person who fell if we fall," I said.

I was the first of our group to reach the top of the long, steep roped section just prior to the hole in a rock. Jacque was right behind me and Dick Cowan right behind her. As I went down the section, I told Jacque to wait till I was clear before she descended.

As I neared the bottom of the rope, I was extra careful, moving slowly to get down what I consider the worst rock area of the Peak 3 ridge. As I repositioned my body chest-to-rock to down-climb, I noticed Jacque was just a few feet behind me, having descended the section before
I was clear.

I scolded her for not waiting till I was down. Sad-faced, she settled into a little niche in the rock to wait till I had finished the descent of the section. Once I was down, I yelled that I was clear. Jacque then followed.

I continued descending, focusing on the narrow ridgeline ahead of me to avoid a fatal plunge.

I then heard Dick yell, "Oh s**t!!"

"What happened?" I yelled back.

"Jacque fell!" was Dick's reply.

Knowing the deadly spot she had fallen from, I thought the unthinkable: she was gone. In a primal response to express my helplessness and frustration, and with the thought that the last words I had voiced to my wife was a scolding, I yelled an expletive at the top of my voice.

And then, with tears welling in my eyes and my heart feeling like it had been pierced, I yelled her name, equally as loud.

Amazingly, thanks to God, there was a reply.

It was that familiar voice. Jacque's She yelled my name, in a clear, loud response. I'll always remember that. The beautiful sound of her voice.

The next order of business was to try and get to her. Dick took the lead, affixing a 100-foot rope to a fixed metal anchor in the rock. He followed a shelf, partially protected by Christmas berry trees, and after disappearing around a cleft in he ridge, he found Jacque.

She was okay. She had some cuts on her head and plenty of abrasions and bruises. But she was okay despite a fall that we calculated as being 125 feet, the equivalent of a plunge from a 12-story building.

Dick proceeded to apply a bandage (acutally a feminine napkin and duct tape) to Jacque's head wound. Dusty Klein and Ed Gilman also followed the shelf to assist. Those three helped Jacque back to the trail.

During this time, we found out via walkie talkie transmissions that the person who had fallen first was Mel, who miraculously despite a long crash and tumble plunge of 150 feet, was able to climb back to the Peak 2/Peak 3 saddle area with an assist from Mike, who threw Mel a rope.

After getting Jacque back to the trail, we all headed back carefully down to the P2/P3 saddle. To the amazement of us all, Jacque, even after her brush with death, was upbeat and full of energy, describing her fall and the three to four times she bounced before finally coming to a stop on her back, upside-down, with one leg hooked around a tree. At that point, she had the wherewithal to climb up 25 feet to a higher, safer location where Dick ultimately found her.

At the saddle, we came upon Mel and others who were huddled around him to assist. He was banged up and had pains in his ribs (a later hospital visit indicated that he had three ribs broken). Though being banged up herself, Jacque, who works in the Queen's Medical Center emergency room, helped tend to Mel. Amazing.

At that point, we formulated a plan to descend a "trail" Scott Villiger had marked. It went to the ocean-facing side from the saddle to eventually reach the old Kalanianaole Highway. This exit seemed to be a better option than climbing back up to Peak 2 then Peak 1 then descending Peak 1 back to the trailhead.

With walkie talkies and cell phones, we arranged to have trucks driven by other members of our group waiting to pick us up.

This descent took us about an hour, and we kept an eye of Mel and Jacque as we hiked out. There was plenty of support and good cheer from good people. Mahalo to Scott for leading us down, and to Tom Yoza, Jason Sunada, Ed Gilman, and others for doing some trail clearing to make the steep rough exit route easier to negotiate.

Just as we had worked out, the trucks were waiting for us when we hiked out. Jacque and I were driven over to Castle Hospital. Darrell Teruya later accompanied Mel to Castle. Jacque and Mel, though banged up, recovered. Both have returned to do plenty of hiking in the years since.

It was an eventful day on the mountain, no doubt. God was smiling on us all.

To see more pics from that fateful hike are available here.

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