Crouching Lion's Inn Ridge Hike, |
The Crouching Lions Inn Hike is one of the more physically intensive hikes due to the elevation gain going up the steep ridge. The hike starts at about sea level and reaches an altitude of 2000 feet (at the top of the ridge). The ridge becomes very narrow in some places with cliffs on both sides. If you are afraid of heights or not interested in taking risks (of falling to your death) this might not be the activity for you. Also, a portion of it is overgrown with thorns and difficult to follow so I recommend only going half way (to the waterflow in the center of the ridge). The trail starts just a little ways off Kam highway, goes up and along the mountain range in a horseshoe shape, and ends back at Kam Highway about a half mile down from where it started. (see dotted lines one topographical map below).
The best part to start the trail is at the end of Huamalani street just off of Kam Highway in Ka'a'awa (just after Kahana Valley). You will see a firestation and tower (as in photo at left) on the corner of Huamalani. Turn up the street, go to the end and find a place to park on the side of the road.
See the photos below at left to get an idea of where the trail starts. You will start along side the stone wall and follow the trail into the gulch for a few minutes before it turns left and starts heading up the ridge (aka mountain). Once you get up the side of the mountain the trail will continue up the ridge. Eventually you will come to a small waterflow that drains off the ridge into the valley below. See the blue dotted lines on the photo below to get an idea of the layout of the trail. Once you reach the waterflow the trail becomes extremely difficult to follow. I would recommend that you turn back after this point and head down the way you came up. The portion of the trail that is marked with red dotted lines is overgrown with thorny berry bushes. It's very difficult to follow and a bit painful.
If you do attempt this part it's a good idea to have some thick jeans or pants that can protect you from the thorns. If you have a big machete it would probably come in handy. Before going down to the edge of the waterflow (where it drains off the wall) turn left and take the trail around and above the small waterfall up there. As you head up the ridge keep an eye out for the pink trail marking ribbons. (I have had friends get lost at this part on more than one occasion - two of them had to get airlifted by helicopter out of there. Be cautious of where you're headed and don't be afraid to turn back.) After you get to the top of the ridge the trail will pick up a bit better and you can follow it down on the opposite side of the gulch or ravine. You will eventually exit out near the Crouching Lion Inn restaurant.
Wheather you do all or part of the trail be sure to start early and give yourself plenty of time and daylight. Take backup flashlights if you can. (One wrong step in the dark could result in a long fall off the cliff). Be sure to take lots of water and some food to keep hydrated and energized for the intense climb. Reception is pretty good up there so take a cell phone as well.