Hiking on Lanai: Koloiki Ridge Trail
Koloiki Ridge Trail is a four-hour hike through a variety of terrains on the island of Lanai. It’s a lovely, mostly shaded trail with amazing views at the end. The trail is a gem of hiking on Lanai and it is a must to appreciate the true beauty of this island. Koloiki Ridge Trail is 4.5 miles round trip, it has red marking signs from one to fourteen; fourteen being the end of the trail.
Lanai is a smaller, less populated rural island within the Hawaii island chain, nesting south of the islands of Molokai and Maui. It claims to have more cats than people. It’s also known as the Pineapple Island because the entire island used to be a pineapple plantation. Purchased by Larry Ellison in 2012, who plans to turn Lanai into a self-sufficient island, starting with seawater desalination, this little island might soon be transformed into a dreamland of the future. Lanai seemed to be the perfect weekend getaway. We decided to hop over for a three-day trip over my birthday weekend.
Before the hike, we picked up a free map from the Heritage Center located in the Lanai city center. Koloiki Ridge Trail starts at Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele, at 1 Keomoku Highway. We drove to Koele and parked for free by the clubhouse of the lodge. The trail head is located behind the clubhouse. As we walked uphill, we came across the “Number One” red sign, which told us that we were at the beginning of the trail.
We walked through a rain forest, a pine tree forest, a lava field, and stepped on red soil, arriving at Maunalei valley, which is the largest and deepest valley on Lanai, overseeing the ocean.
Koloiki means “little crawler,” which refers to the narrow wiggly ridge that formed towards the ocean. Koloiki Ridge separates the Maunalei valley and the Naio gulch. Maunalei means “Mountain garland,” which refers to the a wreath of clouds persistently resting on top of the Maunalei valley. In the ancient times, the clouds brought rain, and the Hawaiians harvested the rain by developing irrigated agricultural fields to plant taro. Later on, the rainwater from Maunalei was used to supply the Dole pineapple plantation.
Koloiki Ridge Trail offers a variety of terrains, plants and flowers. From the beginning of the trail, we walked through a pine tree forest. The smell of pine trees was lovely. Ten minutes into the trail, we came across a large field of amazingly fragrant yellow ginger flowers. Unique to this trail are the Sisal plants, which were introduced in the 1900s to make natural fiber ropes, and later on used as wind blocks. We also saw bushes of Christmas berries, colorful leaves on the ground, moss covered tree branches, Eucalyptus trees with orange and red peeling bark, forming colorful patches and patterns on the tree trunks. We heard birds singing and saw turkeys running through the field.
The trail is well shaded. We had clouds above us most of the time. In the beginning of the hike, it was wet and humid, and later on the climate became dry. Long-sleeve shirts and pants are recommended for protection from the sun and the bushes. We brought two bottles of water per person and small snacks. There is no water source on the trail.
It is a tranquil trail. We met two or three hikers along the way. There were a few steep slopes, muddy grounds and wet spots, but it is an easy and pleasant hike overall. Koloiki Ridge Trail was like a treasure trove to me; I enjoyed taking pictures of interesting plants, leaves and flowers along the way, without knowing their names.
Hiking Koloiki Ridge Trail was the perfect way to see the unique beauty of Lanai with different terrain and vegetation. This trail was tranquil and safe. I recommend it to everyone, even families with kids.
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