Crouching Lion Hike: Epic Trail In Oahu, Hawaii

by David & Intan

The Crouching Lion hike is a short but epic trail in Oahu, Hawaii that ends with a panoramic view of the mountains and jungle at Kahana Bay.

We’ve done this hike a bunch of times and it’s one of our absolute favorites. The scenery is completely stunning, and there are some great viewpoints on the hike.

This travel guide will explain how to get there, and everything you need to know before you go!


Quick Facts

  • Distance: 0.5 miles (0.8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet (90 m)
  • Duration: 1 hour round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate


Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

This is a 20-30 minute hike on a dirt trail that takes you up the side of a steep hill. You’ll be exhausted and panting on the way up, but the trail to the first viewpoint isn’t dangerous at all.

Elevation gain is only about 300 feet, but it feels like more because the distance is so short. Just remember to bring some water.

Do keep an eye on weather conditions, because the dirt trail is steep and it gets very slippery and annoying after a big rain.

Hiker on the Crouching Lion trail in Oahu, Hawaii

You can reach this hilltop with a safe, easy hike that only takes about 20 minutes.


The Crouching Lion Viewpoint

After about 20 minutes of hiking, you’ll reach a flat hilltop where you can stop and take in the incredible views. It’s super quiet and peaceful. The only sound is the breeze in the trees.

There are some steep drop-offs here that could be fatal, but it’s not an issue if you stay back from the ledge. There’s plenty of room to walk around on the hilltop safely, even if you’re in a group.

If you go east from here, there’s a rock platform you can scramble onto for even better views of the ocean and mountains. This clump of rocks is the ‘crouching lion’ that the hike gets its name from.

You can stop at this hill, or go further up the mountain and then the trail will eventually merge with Puu Manamana, one of the scariest and most dangerous cliff trails in Hawaii (not recommended unless you know what you’re doing).

As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!

Hikers on the Crouching Lion trail in Oahu, Hawaii

Hikers on the Crouching Lion trail in Oahu, Hawaii


Is Crouching Lion Hike Closed / Illegal?

At one point, the state of Hawaii put up signs saying the Crouching Lion trail is closed, but that hasn’t been enforced at all for years, and doesn’t seem to be in effect anymore in 2024 either.

I think they actually wanted to limit access to Puu Manamana, which is a much more treacherous hike and shares a trailhead with Crouching Lion.

However, the reality is that most people use this trailhead to do the short and easy hike to the Crouching Lion hilltop, which is one of Hawaii’s best hikes and it’s really not very dangerous at all.

Crouching Lion Hike Hawaii Oahu Trail

Crouching Lion Hike Hawaii


Crouching Lion Pillboxes

If you want to see something else that’s interesting on the Crouching Lion hike, there are a couple of small U.S. military bunkers hidden in the foliage on the northeast side of the trail.

These concrete bunkers, called pillboxes, were built all over the island of Oahu during World War II to serve as lookout posts, and they usually have stunning views of the Hawaii coastline.

Nowadays the Crouching Lion pillboxes are run down and surrounded by foliage, but they’re still an interesting feature of the trail. You can walk inside of them or climb on top for a nice view of Kahana Bay!

Crouching Lion Pillboxes WWII WW2 Bunkers

Nice views from one of the Crouching Lion pillboxes


Kahana Bay Beach Park

While you’re at the Crouching Lion trail, don’t forget to check out the nearby beach that wraps around Kahana Bay.

It’s just across the road from where the Crouching Lion trail starts, and the views from this beach are completely epic. It’s usually empty, too!

You can camp at this beach park with a permit, and it’s a nice place to hang out before or after doing a hike.

Kahana Bay Beach Park in Oahu, Hawaii

EXTRA: Kahana Bay is near the trailhead for the Oahu Crouching Lion hike, and definitely worth checking out too if you have time!


Crouching Lion Hike Location / Directions

The Crouching Lion hike is located on the northern windward side of Oahu, Hawaii, just 4 miles up the road from Kualoa Ranch.

There is a small parking area for cars, or you can also get here by bus. There are a couple of handy bus stops located near the trailhead.

The hiking trail starts across the road from where you park, so just cross the road and head east through the jungle and up the hill.

You’ll notice there are actually 3 or 4 different unmarked trails here, but they’re all the same thing — you can take any of them because they all go to the Crouching Lion viewpoint.


More Hawaii Travel Tips

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for the Crouching Lion hike in Oahu, Hawaii.

Don’t forget to check out my other Oahu hiking guides and my complete list of the best things to do in Oahu Hawaii!

Where To Stay In Oahu


Best Oahu Tours


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Andrea September 6, 2023 - 6:58 pm

How do you know that the closure is not enforced in 2023 for the crouching lion?

David September 7, 2023 - 1:32 am

That hasn’t been enforced at all for years. My friends have gone to Crouching Lion again recently, and if you look at AllTrails there are hundreds of reviews from people who hiked it recently with no problem.

martha shelton May 1, 2024 - 4:05 am

I live at the base of this mountain. We watch mostly lost, often injured, and all too often dead hikers, get emergency air-lifted off the mountain, on average, weekly. It happens so often, it doesn’t make the news unless someone dies.

We watch most of these rescues just a few hundred yards past the waterfall ALL THE TIME! The trail is NOT WELL MARKED!!!!!

If you plan to attempt this hike, please begin from the Crouching Lion side. There is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS section, closer to the Crouching Lion side, which people have to swing, Tarzan style, around a cliff face. People beginning from the Hidden Valley side (Huamalani St) reach this impasse at the end of their day, without enough time to make it back if they find themselves unable to do the Tarzan, swing thing.

Please be properly prepared!!!-
-Wear proper foot gear. Crampons. This means crampons!!!!
-Give yourselves 12 hours of daylight!!!! It’s WAY farther than it looks!!!!!!
-Carry NEON trail tape!!!!! To find your way back if you can’t proceed forward!
-Be equipt to spend the night (IN THE RAIN!!!!!)
– This is NOT A HIKE FOR CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s one of the most DANGEROUS on Oahu!!!! (up to the waterfall isn’t too bad).
Thank You, be safe and have fun.

-Please be safe and fun!!

David & Intan May 3, 2024 - 1:35 am

Hi Martha. I think you’re referring to the Pu’u Manamana hike, which is much longer and more dangerous than this one, but uses the same trailhead.

This guide is just for the short 20-30 minute hike to the ridge at Crouching Lion. It’s easy to turn back there if you don’t want to go further.


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