Crouching Lion Hike
It’s time to shed some light on our FAVORITE hike from our Oahu getaway…Crouching Lion!
One of the more well known hikes on Oahu, Crouching Lion, is a daring quest that takes you up the Pu’u Manamana ridge that overlooks the beautiful North-Eastern Oahu coastline. I will say that there are 2 ways to go about this hike, you can enjoy a challenging 0.4 mile hike to the top of Crouching Lion or you can embark on a 4 mile loop hike called “Kahekili-Manamana loop” that essentially starts right at the same place as the other hiking trail. We chose to go on the shorter hike and we were super happy with our decision. Below, I will explain how to get to this hike, what to expect, and our personal experience from the hike, hope you enjoy!
-DO NOT go on this hike if it has rained or is raining.
-Watch videos on youtube of people documenting how they got to the top, it might be helpful if you feel you might have gone a different way then planned, we watched this video before our hike.
-Make sure you shoes have good grip!
-If you’re a photographer or videographer, documenting your journey may be tricky to do considering you will be using both hands going up for most of the hike, but other people have documented their experience so its not IMPOSSIBLE just something to consider 🙂
Part of the fun of this hike is actually finding the trail head LOL Coming from Honolulu, the destination to Crouching Lion takes about 30 minutes with little to no traffic. The address is:
52-204 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Here, you will arrive just outside the Swanzy Beach Park where you can park inside the park or there is a few spots on the right hand side of the road just before the park entrance. We would suggest parking at either spot, the parking spots on the side of the road seemed a little sketchy but put you closer to the trailhead. The hike starts on the left hand side of the road, or the side opposite the ocean, so you will have to cross the street to get to it. It may seem like there is no entrance what so ever at this designation but there is. The key is looking for two signs that are side by side that are warning signs saying “hazardous cliff” & “area closed.” Walking from this spot up into the brush is where your journey will begin.
What to Expect
As you start your ascent into the unknown, you may notice pink flyers on trees giving you clues that you are going the right way, those little guys are a BIG help and will direct you throughout the hike. You will notice that there are tons of roots and tree branches to help you push yourself up the cliff, these are great to grip and can help prevent you from slipping since the ground can be slippery whether its dry or wet. We found that even when we did it and the ground was dry, the hike was still somewhat slippery because the fine dirt can sometimes slide out.
You will trek up the cliff and reach areas where ropes will be there to assist you, just make sure to take your time and planning each step will ensure your safety. We definitely took our time and met a few hikers that decided to go back down because they felt it was getting to scary for them-which is understandable and good judgement on their part-if you are scared of heights this is not the hike for you. As we got higher and higher up the mountain, Scott and I thought we might have gone the wrong way up because we felt we weren’t as close to the crouching lion ledge that we had seen in photos online. Even though we weren’t sure if we were going the right way, we continued going up until we got to a plateau.
Looking out into the distance, we were really taken back, it was simply the most picturesque Hawaiian mountain-scape, coastline view we had ever seen. We looked out to the trailhead and found that we had taken a route that lead to Crouching Lion, but we were a little higher up, so we continued going along the ridge. As we finally got over to the lookout, we made our last little climb up a few big boulders to get a seat on the icon view that is Crouching Lion.
We had made it to the end, with nowhere left to go, we gazed off into the distance and took in the sweet satisfaction of our hiking accomplishment. The hike to the top took about an hour and half because we had gone on a little longer route than what we planned (we ended up going the “correct” route on the journey down) if we had gone on the other starting point it would have taken less than an hour from what we read online. Overall, it was a mission and a hike we will never forget!
The views from this hike are well worth the scary thoughts that race through your mind once you have passed the sketchy parts of the hike. I would be lying if I didn’t say I imagined Scott or I dying on this hike haha I know that’s horrible but if you’re not super focused and on top of your shit you very well could die. What I did love most about this hike was the big payoff at the top and just the accomplishment I felt after. The scenery was to die for (no pun intended) and the pictures from this hike are well worth it. Going back down the “correct trail” felt a lot easier and had way more ropes than the trail we scaled up.
So some additional advice would be to just really do a lot of research before embarking on this hike! We can only tell you so much so go out there and find more blog posts talking about this hike, we want you to be as safe as possible 🙂 Another thing we want to throw in here is the great experience we had AFTER the hike, since it was mid day/getting closer to the evening and we were super sweaty and beat, we had the bright idea to jump in the ocean at the Swanzy Beach park for a little swim! The water was super calm and not deep at all so it was the perfect relaxing element our bodies were craving after the hike 🙂 If you’re an experienced hiker and a bit of a thrill seeker this hike is for YOU! We totally recommend this hike if that is your kind of personality, we hope this post was insightful and would love to hear YOUR stories from this hike in the comments below! Thanks for checking in, until next time 🙂