If you ask 100 people on Oahu, “Which hike is a total classic?”, over half will mention Crouching Lion. What makes Crouching Lion Hike so awesome?
It’s one of the shortest hikes with the greatest reward.
Crouching Lion hike is halfway up the east side of the island in Ka’a’awa. Because it’s on the east but also going up north, you can catch sunrises and sometimes a good sunset here (the feature photo is at sunset). You can get a view of Kahana Bay OR the mountains depending on the route you take at the top. Either route is a short trail detour – almost impossible to get lost as the top of the hike is pretty open.
Although there is some climbing involved, most of the hike is mild-moderately difficult only due to the uphill terrain. The only perilous area is on top of the lion itself with the view of the mountains – if you decide to sit on the head of the lion, you’re basically sitting on a tiny ledge off the mountain.
About the Trail
Location: In Ka’a’awa by Kahana Bay, going north on Highway 83.
Length: 0.5 miles total
Fear Factor: Minimal to Moderate – depends on the rocks you climb and the views you want at the top.
Starting the Hike
Parking is difficult because the laws change all the time. I usually park in a dirt parking area across from the trail head, however, I’ve heard that they tow periodically. It has never happened to me. That being said, an alternative parking spot is down the road at Swanzy Beach Park, but you’ll have to walk on the narrow road to the trailhead.
The trailhead is somewhat obvious, located across the road from the dirt parking. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see cautionary signs posted, but like everyone else on the island, we hike along anyway!
If you’re confused as to which direction to go at the trailhead (since it goes left and right), go left where the path is more heavily trafficked. Going to the right will take you to a similar area, but moreso on the mountain and less on the rocky “lion” where the views are.
Doing the Hike
The hike is completely uphill along rocks and roots. If you’re a bit out of shape, you will need a breather. I know I always offer to wait on the side of the trail if someone needed to pass on their way down… it was an excuse to breathe for a second. But, since the hike is so short, it doesn’t last long! (see Instagram post below from my account, @nicolejeanette.travels)
Once you get to the top of the hike, you’ll notice there’s two paths you can take. One goes toward the coast for views of the bay and the water, which is an absolute must. The other goes to the lion itself, which is just a rock formation that looks like a cat sitting in loaf position (cat people understand).
The Bay Views
These are the views that everyone talks about! If you go to the pile of rocks to the left of the trail which jut out over the bay, you get to appreciate how beautiful the windward side of the island truly is. It’s not too scary getting to the views, but you do have to watch your footing.
The Mountain Views
Going right/behind you on the trail, you will head over to the lion itself. In the picture below, I’m literally hiking up the lion’s “head” to get to the overhang which gets awesome views of the mountains. This is where the hike has potential to be dangerous, so be super careful when rock climbing this area.
As stated, this is a classic hike! It’s fast and you get great views. Take your time and enjoy it!
Have you done this hike? What tips can you offer? What was your experience on the trail? Comment below!