A Trip to the Top of Oahu – Mt. Ka’ala

Destination: Mt. Ka'ala

I’m starting a new feature here at The Hawaii Files. It’s the Flickr Set of the Week. As some of you know, I post thousands of pictures to the Flickr photo sharing service every year. Over the past 10 years I’ve managed to post more than 17,000 photos to Flickr. I’m still adding photos on almost a daily basis to Flickr of just about anything and everything.

I figure why not share some of the Flickr sets and albums with The Hawaii Files readers. So here we go.

Last year I was lucky enough to be invited to go on a State Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) excursion to the top of Mt. Ka’ala in the Waianae mountains on Oahu. Mt. Ka’ala is the highest peak on Oahu rising 4,025 feet above sea level. The tall mountain is actually a plateau and is located in a pristine watershed area and rain forest that is zoned for preservation by the State of Hawaii.

What I learned on the day-long excursion is that the area like several others in the State is the home of valuable watershed, a place where our life giving water originates. The Mt. Ka’ala Natural Area Preserve encompasses 1,100 acres of lush, green rain forest. It is the home to many rare plant and animal species like the tiny Happy Face Spider. Endangered plant species are numerous and rare.

One thing for sure about Mt. Ka’ala. The weather can change quite fast. It may look clear and sunny from the base. However by the time you reach the top of the mountain, it can be socked in with low lying clouds with falling rain.

Access to the mountain for the general public is by a grueling uphill hike. Once you reach the top, you are greeted by a wooden boardwalk that spans the publicly accessible rain forest. If the weather is clear one may be able to catch spectacular views of areas downslope from the mountain.

Government officials use a narrow, private road that is closed to the public. Signs and a locked gate at the road’s beginning warn the public to stay away or face a monetary fine or arrest.

Waianae Mountains 2

A view of Mt. Ka’ala from urban Honolulu. It’s a world removed.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

The top of Mt. Ka’alA is often shrouded by low-lying clouds (fog) and rainy. Here is a view from the top and the nearby FAA tracking station that is off limits to the public.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Happy Face Spider, though the face doesn’t seem to be present.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

The wooden boardwalk at the top.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Gotta love the lush green ferns.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Flickr slideshow: More than 100 photos.



Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.