Crouching Lion is a short but very steep incline hike that offers breathtaking views of Kahana Bay, Kaaawa, and Pu’u Manamana.
Right from the start, this hike takes off at a steep incline. You will definitely work up a sweat as you climb over gnarled tree roots, and duck under stooping branches. As you continue to climb, the trail becomes more and more paved. There are parts that are very slippery, especially if it has rained a lot recently but still doable for sure. This is a more adventures hike as it can be dangerous, however the views are incredible.
Coming across the first pillbox of the hike, we decided to climb atop and check out the view of Kahana Bay. On this pillbox, someone has painted a giant red, orange, and green ‘Aloha’. The views are already pretty sweet from here and it only takes ten minutes to reach this point.
After a few minutes of walking, we began to explore some of the smaller trails leading to the rock formations and the cliff edge. We also found a few cool little caves hidden on the cliff side of the formations. This is where the trail came atop a wide ridge offering gorgeous views of both Kaaawa to the left and Kahana Bay to the right.Here, there is an abundance of little caves and overhangs that you can venture to. The rocks in this area are a bit crumbly though so if you do decide to climb out, use caution.
In the midst of all the rock formations, we came to a small clearing overlooking Kahana Bay. Crouching Lion Hike is named for a rock formation along the hike that from the right angle, looks like a lion laying down. This rock formation comes up on your left as you continue hiking towards the bigger clearing.
Crouching Lion Hike Short route: The trailhead is located in between a ‘Do Not Pass’ sign and a telephone pole. It isn’t marked and looks like it’s heading straight into the bushes, but once you get a few steps into the bushes you can begin to see the markings of a trail. When we did this hike there were quite a few other small groups along the way which reassured us that we were headed in the right direction.
This route is the most common and leads you along a safe path through the undergrowth to the viewpoint. It is much shorter than the second route and the popular pick among most hikers. Generally, we park a few hundred meters down the road on the right-hand side of the road coming from Honolulu. The trailhead is on the left-hand side of the road coming from Honolulu.
Crouching Lion Hike Long Route: Park at the Swanzy Beach Park and then walk up Huamalani Road till you find the trailhead. The Crouching Lion trail can be difficult to follow in parts but ribbons usually mark the way. The trail rigidly follows the Pu’u Manamana Ridge and the entire loop is called Kahakili-Manamana loop taking 4-5 hours to complete. This route is very dangerous and has claimed lives as the drop-offs are incredibly steep and the terrain can be dangerous. I would only suggest doing this hike with a local who has navigated the route before.