The Ultimate Guide to Crouching Lion Hike
The Crouching Lion hike is a short but exciting trail in Oahu, Hawaii that leads to an amazing view of the mountains and jungle at Kahana Bay.
We’ve hiked this trail many times, and we love it. The views are spectacular, and there are several spots where you can stop to rest or admire the scenery. This is a strenuous hike on a dirt trail that will make you pant. The climb up to the first viewpoint isn’t dangerous, but be prepared for your muscles to ache by the time you get there!
Keep an eye on the weather, because water causes mud and makes it hard to climb when there has been a lot of rain.
In this blog post, I share with you all of the details needed in order to enjoy this hike—the where to park and best viewpoints along the way. I will also share with you the different routes and options available for hiking Crouching Lion.
Is Crouching Lion Hike Closed / Illegal?
The state of Hawaii once posted signs saying that the Crouching Lion trail was closed. But by 2022, this closure no longer seemed to be in effect.
I believe they wanted to limit access to Puu Manamana, which is a more treacherous hike than Crouching Lion and shares a trailhead with it.
But the reality is that most people use this trailhead to do the short and easy hike up Crouching Lion hill, which is one of Hawaii’s best hikes—and it’s not dangerous at all.
Best time to visit Crouching Lion Hike
The best time of day to visit Crouching Lion Hike in Oahu is early in the morning, as it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunrise on a clear day. Alternatively—if you don’t mind trekking under scorching sun at midday—you can see amazing blue hues of ocean here too!
Finding the Crouching Lion Trail Entrance
From Waikiki, it’s about an hour drive by either Highway 61 or 63. However, I recommend taking the scenic route and following 72 down South Coast before connecting with 83 to continue trip north. Although this route will add about 30-45 minutes to your drive, it’s worth the trip. This adventure around the island should not be missed!
When looking for trail locations (and all other trail-related inquiries), we use AllTrails. The app is a great way to check for trail closures, difficulty level and recent reviews—always plan ahead!
When using Google Maps to find the Crouching Lion trail entrance from Waikiki, be sure not to prematurely turn left into a driveway. Instead, continue around the bend until you’re forced to make a 90 degree turn.
Eventually, driving along this road will bring you to a dirt parking lot on your right-hand side. Park here—it’s the entrance to the hike. If you spot Kahana Campground off in the distance (on your left), turn back: You’ve gone too far!
As with all hikes on O’ahu, you should not leave any valuables in your car.
To locate the entrance, you will need to carefully cross the road (opposite of where you parked) and continue walking in a straight line until you see “Area Closed” or “Hazardous Cliff” signs.
Those signs mean you are in the right place. Look for a dirt path leading into the woods—there will be more than one but they all meet up just a short distance in. Once you’ve found it, follow the trail to its end.
Two different routes for the Crouching Lion hike
This hike can be done by taking either the short, basic ascent up to the peak or a more challenging four-hour route
Crouching Lion Hike Short route:
The trailhead to Crouching Lion Hike is located before Kahana Bay, between a ‘Do Not Pass’ sign and a telephone pole. Click here to see the map with clear instructions on how to find it.
This trail isn’t marked, but once you get into the bushes it becomes easier to see. When we hiked this trail there were several small groups along the way that reassured us we were on track.
This route is much shorter than the second one and preferred by most hikers.
Crouching Lion Hike Long Route
Park at Swanzy Beach Park and walk up Huamalani Road to the trailhead, where ribbons will mark your way. The Crouching Lion trail can be difficult to follow in places but the ribbon markers are usually adequate. The trail follows the Pu’u Manamana Ridge and is called Kahakili-Manamana loop. It takes 4–5 hours to complete, but it’s very dangerous because of steep drop-offs and dangerous terrain. I suggest that you hire a local guide to hike this trail with you.
The Crouching Lion Viewpoint
After hiking for about 20 minutes, you’ll reach a flat hilltop where you can stop and relax. The only sounds are the breeze in the trees and maybe some birds chirping.
It is possible to get close enough to the edge that you could fall off, so be sure not to go too near. There’s plenty of room on the hillside for everyone if they just stay back from edges.
To get even better views of the ocean and mountains, you can scramble onto a rock platform that is east from here. It’s called “crouching lion” because it looks like a crouched lion when seen from above (or below—depends on your perspective).
You can stop hiking here, or go further up the mountain and eventually meet up with Puu Manamana—one of the scariest and most dangerous cliff trails in Hawaii.
As always, please remember to leave no trace on the trail.
Crouching Lion Pillboxes
If you want to see something else interesting on the Crouching Lion hike, a couple of small U.S. military bunkers are hidden in the foliage on the northeast side of trail.
The concrete bunkers known as pillboxes were built all over the island of Oahu during World War II, serving as lookout posts of the Hawaii coastline.
The Crouching Lion pillboxes are now in disrepair and surrounded by foliage, but they’re still an interesting feature of the trail. You can walk inside them or climb on top for a nice view of Kahana Bay!
Kahana Bay Beach Park
While you’re hiking on the Crouching Lion trail, take time to enjoy Kahana Bay beach. It’s a short walk from the beginning of Crouching Lion trail, and you get amazing views. Camping at this beach park requires permission, but hanging out there before or after hiking is still possible.