I set out to hike the Lanipo aka Mau'umae Trail this morning. The reviews of this trail aren’t stellar - nobody seems to have many positive things to say about it.
As far as ridge hikes in this area go, I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list - though I don’t regret doing it by any stretch. The one thing that sets this trail apart, in a good way, is the view you get of Ka'au Crater about half-way into the trail. Being on the neighboring ridge line, you get full view of some of the waterfalls and, once you get up high enough, a straight shot right into the crater.
Having not done the Ka'au Crater Trail yet, this got me pretty excited - albeit with a touch of terror. The path to the summit on that hike looks pretty brutal and I’m definitely not doing that one alone.
The drawbacks of the Lanipo trail are few, but enough for me to not recommend it with so many great neighboring trails. First and foremost, the trail is incredibly overgrown at some points. I’ve read that the Uluhe here is thick and gets to the point of feeling like razor toward the end of the hike. I thought that whoever wrote that was just being dramatic - but it’s true. The stuff is chest high at some points and when you stretch that out, even sporadically, over 7 miles - it starts to get pretty brutal. There are cuts and scrapes on my shins that are more annoying than they are painful, but I’m definitely wearing long pants next time I try this one.
Another thing worth noting is that almost every review I’ve read about this hike says that there was almost no visibility from the summit. This was true for me today, too, despite a sunny forecast for Honolulu. We were greeted with a heavy downpour and a thick gray cloud at the summit, able to see nothing. It was peaceful in its own way, but a bit of a bummer at the same time.
This isn’t uncommon for ridge hikes on this side, but having to put in the effort to get to the summit, you kind of want that payoff. On these ridge trails, the journey is not necessarily the reward.
The trail wasn’t technical in any significant way. There were two rope sections that I was able to climb through easily without the ropes - the roots where better. No stairs and not many crazy sections where you could easily slip off the side of the Pali - not even as many as Hawaii Loa Ridge. We covered the path to the summit in pretty heavy rain and it wasn’t too rough of a ride.
All-in-all, not one I’ll rush back to - but I will be back someday.