Bad with some redeeming features or ok but nothing special
Very good, fun, exciting, interesting, and/or different
1. Olomana 3 Peaks
Highlights: Scrambling with the aid of ropes, views, adventure
Terrain: Forest, tree root, and rock climbing. There are ropes set up that you can use to assist the few climbs up rock faces. Not necessary, but very helpful. The first 2 peaks are quite doable, the 3rd peak involves a downclimb on slippery red clay where the ropes are more than just a luxury.
This hike was a blast! It starts out thru stuffy jungle near the Luana Hills country club (park outside of the club near a guardrail and walk in, follow trail signs). Quickly you rise up above this into ironwood stands and views of town below. You can hear the sounds of town throughout the hike which turned me off initially but eventually I managed to drown them out. The views of Kailua area get more impressive the higher you go, until the full SE side of the island with its myriad islands become visible along with Molokai in the distance and the pali of Maunawili mauka. Once you get near the first peak you'll have a few scrambles, the most difficult was up a clay/mud section without any good hand/footholds. After that there are a couple of scrambles up rock walls. Ropes were already in place which I used for reassurance, but the climbing was pretty easy. The views from the top are awesome. But the fun doesn't stop there. Next, you can continue on climbing steeply down and then back up to the 2nd peak. The saddle is nearly knife edged so watch your footing but I didn't think this bit was too tough. The 3rd section involves climbing steeply down a slick red clay narrow ridge. Partway down you have to trust all your weight on the rope which I thought a bit disconcerting. Once past this section it is pretty straighforward. There are still a number of rope sections and you have to constantly watch your footing, but the climbing is not too challenging.
Terrain: contour walk along pali through forest
The full trail contours along the backside of Maunawili valley, 10 miles in one direction. Either do a car shuttle, or a 20 mile return, or do a shorter segment of the hike (which is all I've had time for so far). It's a pleasant easy graded trail which hugs the backside of the valley right next to the famous pali. Pretty scenery.
3. St. Louis Hts to Mt. Olympus
Highlights: Views of both sides of island
Terrain: jungle, some eroded slippery mud sections
This is a nice longish (7-8 mile round trip) hike up the Ko'olau. The trail travels along a ridge for a great distance before a steep final assault on the ridge. The trail starts at the top of St. Louis Heights in Wa'ahila Ridge state rec area. The trail becomes more difficult after reaching a junction. Continue on the 'unmaintained' trail straight rather than dropping down into Manoa Valley on the other trail.
4. Koko Head
Highlights: solitude, views of turquoise Hanauma Bay, desert scenery
Terrain: desert hard pack (when looping off the paved road)
From Hanauma Bay, or Koko Crater parking lot, take the paved trail that contours around the rim of Koko Head. Great views of Hanauma Bay and some of Hawaii Kai on the backside. Near the peak of the paved road, a single track wanders down to the 'head' below, circles round the point, and continues back up to the FAA station at the top. Along the way there's a side trail into a meadow with a sign discussing the historical importance of said meadow (somebody's kingdom in yesteryear). There's probably very few people here ever so enjoy the solitude. It's a short hike, good for a little meandering.
5a. Koko Crater stairs
Highlights: the ultimate stairmaster, views of Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay, and the eastern tip of the island
Terrain: grassland/low forest along the sides of the old railroad track you hike up.
This starts in a district park off lunalilo home road in Hawaii Kai. Park at the softball fields and walk up the road towards the gun shots (shooting range just below). Follow the road left and look for a little trail off to the right when you near the stairs which become visible. You're looking for an old railroad track that heads steeply straight up the side of Koko crater. Hard to believe, but there it is. Once at the makeshift stairs, start climbing. The slope is pretty mellow at first, the stairmaster on its lowest setting to ease you in. However, there is no shade whatsoever in this first section so it can get pretty hot. After a short while (10-20min depending on how fast you run stairs) you will hit the bridge tressle. The first time was somewhat nerve wracking looking through the slats to the ground far below, but there is a detour trail to the right just where the bridge span begins. The only real concern with the bridge is the beehive at the far/uphill end. I got stung once while in the middle of the span. I don't remember hiking the rest of the way across; I was too concerned with the bee still stuck in my hair. Usually the bees will ignore you though. Anyways, once safely across, the track abruptly steepens and it is tough going. Here there is a fair bit of shade from low trees and shrubbery, but the air is still and stiffling. The first 2 times I hiked up I got pretty sick to my stomach. It has since gotten quite a bit easier (great training!). Finally, you reach the top of the stairs with great views of Hawaii Kai and Hanauma Bay behind you. Continue up the clay/mud trail to the lip of the crater with great views of the eastern end of the island. You can also follow a trail/scramble counterclockwise around the rim of the crater or just explore what is left of the old WWII radar site.
5b. Koko Crater Loop
Highlights: the ultimate stairmaster, views of Hawaii Kai and the eastern tip of the island, a fun rim scramble, skittering across narrow ledges, a steep downclimb with some ropes and 1 section of exposure, coastal sandstone ledge walk back along pounding surf.
Terrain: grassland/low forest along the sides of the old railroad track you hike up, hard rock, crumbly rock, sandstone
This is a fun and strenuous little loop with a little adventure and danger, great views, some scrambling, and a final walk back right along the ocean. Start out at the park off Lunalilo Home road and take the stairs up, up, up. Relax and enjoy the views at the top. Then follow a trail of use to the right, counter clockwise around the rim. In places where the rim becomes narrow and knife edged, the trail winds down to the grassy hillside below, skirting the steep cliff. It is possible to stay up on the rim the entire way though. Just beware of high winds and don't be stupid. It's a long fall. After dropping down past most of the rock onto fairly level grassy rim, look for a turnoff to the right marked with a ribbon (maybe). Take this trail down. It'll start off pretty steep... and then get steeper. And then get steeper yet! I found this section to be rather unnerving, especially since I wasn't expecting fixed ropes and exposure. The rock is mostly grippy sandstone so it wasn't too difficult, but I wouldn't want to do this when wet. After dropping down to the highway below, you have 2 options for walking back. You can walk the highway shoulder back to Hanauma Bay and take the 'closed road' trail back to your car, or, IF the tide is LOW and ocean fairly calm, cross the road and climb down to the sandstone ledge below. You can walk this all the way back to the last car pullout before Hanauma Bay. Actually, I climb up one turn before the pullout area, otherwise you have to climb through a little sea cave. Once back up, take the closed road across from Hanauma back to your car. Note, there are several access points along the hwy to the ocean below, so you can start out walking along the hwy while assessing the tide below.
5c. Koko Crater Botanical Garden stroll
Highlights: cactus garden
Terrain: dry desert, landscaped vegetation, level walking path
Wander through the gardens tucked inside Koko crater on nice walking paths. The longest trail winds around the back crater wall and is a bit over a mile in length. The most interesting section for me was the cactus garden though the whole stroll was pleasant if not exciting.
6. Wiliwilinui Ridge Tr.
Highlights: views of both sides of the island, some rope scrambling
Terrain: forest, hardpack clay, and mud. There are ropes you can use on the steep and potentially slippery sections, or at least there were when I climbed up.
The trail begins off Kalanianiole up Laukahi - you'll have to sign in at a guard station halfway up where you can get directions to the trailhead. The trail starts out wide and easy but eventually becomes single track on potentially slippery red clay. Good views down the ridge on either side. The last bit climbs steeply up to a view of the east side of the island, or at least a view when not socked in by clouds. Round trip maybe 5 miles.
7. Kaena Pt. from the west side
Highlights: coastal walk with sea arches and tidal pools, striking mountain scenery, albatross nesting area.
Terrain: sandy road which can have large potholes filled with water that must be crossed.
Starting at Kaena Pt State park on the northwest tip of the island, this is a nice coastal hike offering some different scenery than elsewhere on the island. The sandy road is easy to walk except when there has been rain. Expect to walk through very large 'puddles'. Beautiful coastline and spectacular views back at the mountains to the SW. Also, if timed right (November), you can visit Kaena Pt during laysan albatross nesting season. HOWEVER!!! You are taking your chances parking in this area. My car was broken into at the trailhead and the cop looked incredulous when I told him that, yes, I had actually walked away from my car. Your best bet is to park as close to the lifeguard as possible, but even then it is a risk. Round trip hike is about 5 miles.
7b. Kaena Pt. from the North Shore
Highlights: coastal walk with tidal pools, crashing waves, striking mountain scenery, albatross and shearwater nesting area.
Terrain: dirt and sand road, rocky coast, last bit is a narrow sandy trail into the bird refuge at the point.
Fantastic, easy, coastal meander. Wander along the shore, admire the waves and tidal pools. It's a short 2 miles each way to the refuge at the point. Once at the refuge, stay on the trails so as to not disturb the nesting birds. I went in early December and saw numerous nesting albatross and one monk seal sunning itself on the rocks right at the point.
8. Hawaiiloa ridge
Highlights: Nice ridge walk, views of both sides of the island, nice forest sections, steep climb at the end.
Terrain: Undulating ridge walk on nice clear trail, eroded dirt/clay on the final steep section but steps have been built in most of that.
I've only hiked down this trail (doing the Niu Valley Kulepeamoa Ridge loop) since hiking up requires a HI drivers license to drive up into the Hawaii Loa gated community. I did hike most of the route down, and was glad to be hiking down rather than the other way. The last section is pretty steep and reasonably long. Good views looking back down the ridge to my valley (Aina Haina) and towards Diamond Head and Waikiki. Good views at the top down on the east side of the island.
9. Manoa Falls + Aihualama Trail to view
Highlights: Beautiful jungle vegetation, a little waterfall, views
Terrain: jungle, hardpack clay/mud, rocks and tree roots
The trail begins at the back of Manoa Valley. You can park in the pay lot or park out in the neighborhood and walk an extra 0.25 mile in. Beware of mosquitoes as the trail follows a river through beautiful jungle scenery. The trail is well used and an easy walk. The trail and scenery are entertaining. After a mile or so you reach Manoa Falls and pool. Signs warn against swimming due to nasty bacteria, but that doesn't seem to stop anyone. Just before the falls you reach the junction with the Aihualama trail. This trail starts steeply up a rocky hill, then contours around on a nice wide trail through a banyan forest. At the end of the banyan straightaway, the trail turns up to the left (NOT on the trail of use to the right, unless you want some rock scrambling adventure... it was fun for awhile). Soon the switchbacks start and take you all the way up to the tantalus ridge. Upon reaching the crest, take the Pauoa Flats trail over roots for .5 mile or so to a great view of the Pali hwy valley. At the scenic overlook, you may notice some small trails leading into the bushes. If you take one, you will find yourself on some sort of trail of use that continues on through the mountains for... I don't know how far. It went another .5 mile or so, but saw a trail runner way up ahead. The trail looked like it could continue indefinitely. I have no idea where it goes, but it was fun to explore.
10. Waimanu Tunnels
Highlights: distant views of nothing but wilderness, tunnels
Terrain: Lower waimano trail had some thick grasses to forge through early on, forest/jungle, some ropes on sections with steep dropoffs, short and long old irrigation ditch tunnels- bring a flashlight!
I went with the Hawaii Trail and Mountain club on this outing and I'm not sure I could direct someone to the long tunnels now. I'm not even positive I could find them myself again. Basically we started out taking the lower Waimanu trail which looped up to the upper which we continued taking mauka. At some point we crossed a river and immediately after we veered left off the trail to the first long tunnel. Emerging from that we continued along the irrigation ditch to the 2nd long tunnel. Popping out of that, we went left and up to a knoll with pavilion for a lunch break. Leaving that, heading down by continuing in the same direction on a main trail, I passed the first tunnel turnoff again, and continued all the way down the upper waimanu trail to my car, taking all the short tunnels on the way. This trail starts in Pearl City on Waimano Home Rd.
11. Manoa Cliffs Circuit (Makiki-Tantalus loop)
Highlights: cool shady forest, views of valleys, pali, and town, wide variety of forest vegetation.
Terrain: A lot of easy contour forest walking, early climb up ridge made of roots, some slippery red clay and mud sections.
This is one of my favorite trails on Oahu so far. It's a nice forest jaunt replete with views, beautiful vegetation, shaded yet breezy and cool walking, and for much of the length, a fairly level contour trail. I started at the nature center on Makiki Hts and took the trail to the right leading up a ridge with a stairway of roots. Once at the top of this the trail became increasingly scenic and easy. The full loop headed up along the manoa cliffs trail before turning back and down. Look at a map to see the full circuit: you will have to turn onto a lot of different named trails to complete the loop. Lots of birds, a native snail habitat, banyan, ti, stretches of bamboo, views down onto Manoa valley and back towards Honolulu city and towards the airport, gauva and strawberry guava,... The full loop took about 3 hours. It can be extended by taking the Pahoa flats trail to the pali hwy view.
12. Diamond Head
Highlights: views of Honolulu/Waikiki and the "lava houses" flowing down from the hills behind town, climb through old fortress bunker, crowds.
Pay to park in the lot inside the Diamond head crater. Hike up the paved trail with the hordes. The last bit gets interesting as you go through an old tunnel, up a long set of stairs, through an old WWII bunker, and out the window to the observation deck. Good views of Waikiki and south eastern neighborhoods, with houses seemingly spilling down from the mountains like flowing lava.
13. Mariner's Ridge
Highlights: Short quick route up Ko'olau, good views including Hawaii Kai, Koko crater/head, Olomana, and the east side of the island.
Terrain: Starts out grass/brushland with open views, followed by forest including many patches of ironwood. Trail is worn red clay often covered in soft ironwood needles.
Take Keahole in Hawaii Kai mauka. Turn left into Mariner's Ridge community. Go to the deadend. Trailhead starts just left of the No trespassing sign. It starts out through dry grass and brushland with 360 deg views of the region. Through here the trail is pleasant and winding. Once it reaches forest the trail steepens a bit. Much of the forest is ironwood and the ground is carpetted with needles. After perhaps a 30 - 45 min walk, the trail breaks out into the open in a nice large flat spot. Great views in all directions. It is possible to continue by climbing down the cliff to a trail of use below. The trail seems to be heavily used, enough to keep it from being overgrown. I followed it to another nearby viewpoint and am not sure if it keeps going from there. There was evidence that the main trail may be used by mountain bikers.
14. Makapu'u Point loop
Highlights: Route finding, scrambling, a little adventure, great views, whales, history (WWII bunker lookouts)
Terrain: First part is rock and grass with some minor scrambling. There is a trail of use but much of the first part is just hiking up the rocky cliff. The 2nd part follows the well used pavement down the backside of the point with great whale watching viewpoints. For more scrambling, you can hike down to the tidal pools and Dragon's nostrils on old lava rock.
This is a fun hike, best in the winter months when it is (ever so slightly) cooler and there are whales to watch! Park at the Makapu'u Point park but then continue walking up the highway to the Makapu'u lookout. From the lookout start climbing up the cliff. You'll want to stay somewhat close to the edge for the easiest route up, great views, and a trail of use to follow if you so desire. The 'trail' will level off and at the edge of the cliff looking out toward the lighthouse which will have just come into view, there is a small rock wall used by climbers. You want to head up to the right of that following utility poles and an old water pipe. Pretty soon you crest the ridge and pop over to the other side. From here you can continue straight on to the paved lookout and throng of tourists, or take a quick right and follow more single track up to the top of Makapu'u. Along the way, and all along the ridge at the top are old dilapidated WWII lookout bunkers. The view throughout this entire loop is pretty phenomenal. At some point you will have to head down to the paved trail along which you want to look out for spouting and breeching humpback whales (November - March, Jan and Feb are best). At a humpback whale sign look out for tidal pools and Dragon's nostrils (double blow hole) far below. There is another trail of use for an easy climb down to these if you don't want your adventure to end yet. Otherwise take the paved trail down to the parking lot where you left your car. From the dragon's nostrils, continue around the coast. There's a great trail that involves first climbing up a rocky slope next to what looks like an impenetrable cliff. Instead, there is a nice, somewhat narrow trail on the cliff that takes you past that section. Afterwards, it is a nice meander along the rocky shelf just above the ocean. After rounding the bend, you end up near the throne and swimming hole. Take the meadow trail back to your car. The loop is about 3 miles or less, add another couple miles for the dragon's nostrils and coast extension.
15. Old Pali Hwy + Likeke to Likelike
Highlights: Old historic roads, Eastside and pali views, a nice small waterfall, also vegetation out to trip you up, constant steady traffic hum mixed with birdsong in jungle.
Terrain: mossy slippery pavement, slick red clay, mud, thick underbrush
This route takes you down the pleasant and very scenic Old Pali Hwy to the Likeke trail which contours along the base of the pali through jungle habitat to the Likelike hwy. I enjoyed the first half of the trail much more than the 2nd. Round trip about 7 miles for the full hike. From the Pali hwy lookout, take the road down to the right (continue through road closed sign) and meander down. You'll hear the traffic from just below you, but views are pretty spectacular. Just when the road seems to end in some trees, take the trail that hugs the cliff on the right around the clump of trees and immediately follow another trail of use that leads directly towards the current pali hwy. If you reach a metal fence you've gone slightly too far. The path you want heads to the pali hwy and just as it reaches it seems to disappear in a ditch. This is where you go - down some rickety steps under the pali hwy. The trail continues on the other side and leads to the continuation of the Pali Hwy. Eventually the road ends at the junction with another old road. Turn left and immediately find a small concrete wall. On the far side of that are some concrete steps leading up onto the Likeke singletrack trail. This trail starts out with some switchbacks heading up to the mean level of this contour trail. However, the trail will continue to drop down into gulches, climb back up out of them, drop back down, climb back up, etc, etc, etc. When you reach the first ridge after the switchbacks you'll hit a 4way junction. You'll want to continue straight and down to the left. If you stay on the ridge going right you'll come pretty quickly to a little clearing with views. Continuing with the Likeke trail, you'll follow this slick red clay trail as it winds through jungle. THe first part of the trail is well used and well maintained making for pretty easy going. Early on it will turn into ancient stone road. Follow this a short ways and then when the stone road veers off to the right, continue on the single track to the left. After perhaps 15-20 min. on this trail you'll come to a nice waterfall. After this the trail begins to slowly deteriorate becoming more and more overgrown/rocky/slippery. The vegetation seems intent on tripping you up and if that fails, slicing you up. Towards the end of the trail, it becomes overgrown enough to make it easy to lose your way - look out for pink ribbons on trees to stay on track. Finally, the last section pops back out of the thick jungle and along the side of pali hills with great views makai and towards the pali both ahead and behind. There's a few good places to stop for a picnic lunch and enjoy the view. The trail nominally ends at an old closed up scenic viewpoint parking lot on the Likelike. I stopped one turn before this as it didn't seem views would improve any and I was already plenty close to the hwy. Plus there was the prospect of heading back along the slick annoying trail. To be honest, heading back was much more pleasant than the route in, if only because I knew what to expect and knew where to find the trail. If you really enjoy lush jungle hikes, this might be a good one for you. Otherwise, the waterfall early on might be a good stopping point.
16a. Aiea Loop
Highlights: pleasant easy walking, open forest
Terrain: graded dirt and red clay forest trail
This is an easy contour trail around the Aiea ridge starting at the top of Aiea Hts Drive past the heiau. It's 5 miles of pleasant forest walking with some views. The best view is at the far end of the loop looking out over the H-3 and Halawa valley. For a section you will have H3 traffic noise below you but it doesn't last long.
16b. Aiea Bisectual
Highlights: pleasant walking, open forest
Terrain: graded forest trail, forest floor carpeted with leaves, needles, tripping roots, and red clay.
Part of this trail is along the Aiea loop. What makes this a 'bisectual' is the trail the HTMC forged through pleasant open forest bisecting this loop. Mostly this is a walk through the woods down a long forested ridge. Some views early on and near the end. This is a good short 3mi forest stroll. If doing this solo, follow the pink HTMC ribbons and expect to do some route finding.
17. Pu'u Manamana
Highlights: Views, scrambling, danger
Terrain: Some forest underbrush, grass, eroded clay sections, rock (that must be climbed), knife edged ridges
This is an advanced trail that climbs steeply up and over Pu'u Manamana. The trail starts as a steep tough walk, then becomes a scramble up rock faces with plenty of exposure. There are occasionally ropes left behind from previous hikers that provide some sense of security, but should be used with care. I actually found many of the promised ropes (described in the Ball Hikers Guide to Oahu) missing and one intentionally tossed the wrong way over a rock. After climbing up the steep ridge, you continue along the very narrow ridge top with a bit more scrambling. Views are sensational. The downclimb is hairier than the climb up. The "trail" plunges down a 1 foot wide ridge which at least is forested so there is something to hold onto for dear life. Fantastic views, fun scrambling.
18. Kealia to Kuaokala trails
Highlights: Views of the N. Shore and Makua Valley, a climb up into the Waianea mt. range, fixed wing glider viewing, pleasant dry forest walking
Terrain: Nice CCC graded switchbacks up mountain face, dirt and red clay road, dirt trail.
I really enjoyed this trail, but part of the reason may be because much of it reminded me of the northern CA Sierras, minus the lakes and granite of course. The Kealia trail starts behind the Dillingham Airfield and follows CCC carved switchbacks heading up to the top of the Waianea. From early on on the switchbacks you have great views of the N. shore and the gliders soaring about the airfield. Many of the switchbacks lie in shady pleasant forest, which provides a nice respite from the glaring sun. Climbing up the switchbacks is surprisingly easy, because you spend much of the time being entertained by the planes and gliders and by the view. Once you reach the top at a small pavilion, you meet up with a dirt road that you can continue on to west side of the Waianea with a great view of Makua valley. Fair warning - much of the road is steeper than any of the switchbacks. The road continues up and straight for awhile with open views and the continual sound of wind through pine. I found this to be exceptionally pleasant. There are occassional less well used roads coming in from the side - just ignore them. There is one section where the road bends right, continues uphill, bends left (avoid a branch coming in from the right) heads more steeply uphill and then straight back downhill. This section can be detoured by taking a ribboned trail of use left off the road just as the road bends to the right and up. If taking this short cut, you climb uphill and pop out on the road, turning left. Continue to a T junction and turn left. After a short ways, take a less used right branch up to a great view of Makua Valley. For even better views, follow the ribbons to the right down a path that hugs the rim around the side of the valley. I went maybe a mile down this but don't know how far this goes since I had spent too much time exploring the road in the other direction and could not continue this trail to the terminus. Given the choice if you want to continue hiking, the cliff trail is much more spectacular than the road (which does offer very pleasant forest walking!). Just hiking to the Makua valley viewpoint and back is supposedly 7 miles. On the way there it'll feel like more than 3.5, on the way back it'll feel much, much less. Downhill helps like that.
19. Waimano pools
Highlights: Shady forest trail, nice pools and waterfall, swimming
Terrain: Starts out on pavement followed by broad graded Manana trail. Once breaking off from the main trail, this became a trail of use scrambling down a hill of roots, over rocks, and across potentially muddy sections.
The trailhead is at the end of Komo Mai Rd off Waimano Home Rd in Pacific Palisades. You start out along the Manana trail but turns off downhill just as you reach a sign listing the Ko'olau summit 5 3/4 mile distant. Instead of following the main trail left, turn down and to the right and follow a trail of use which makes its way down a somewhat steep hill. Use the root ladder. Near the bottom if this first hill, the trail continues down along an obvious trail but still involves a fair bit of scrambling. After about 1.5 miles you break out at a series of pretty pools which you can swim or jump into, or just follow a trail up above the waterfall for some views (of the pools below and the narrow river valley you are in). Not a spectacular hike, but fairly nice with a little scrambling to make it more adventuresome. Remember you have to climb back up to get out, but I actually felt it was tougher (on the knees) going down.
20. Makapu'u coast stroll
Highlights: swimming beach, tidal pools, coastline
Terrain: Grass meadow, sand, lava/coral rock
This is a short meander through a nice grassy meadow to a good swimming beach (there's a post set up for jumping into the water) and along pretty rocky coastline. From the Makapu'u parking lot, turn right off the main paved trail onto one of 2 grassy meadow trails. The high road is a little more overgrown and leads to pele's chair, the low road is an easy path to the beach.
21. Kuliouou Ridge
Highlights: Shady light and airy beautiful forest, well graded and maintained flower lined trail, views of both sides of the island.
Terrain: An easy graded trail on dirt, pine needles, and root ladders.
This is a really pleasant route up to the Ko'olau summit! The trail starts out with numerous shallow sloped switchbacks which slowly wind up to the ridge on a very easy and nice trail. The forest here is very light and airy and the trail, at least when I went, was lined with wild flowers. Near the top of the ridge the vegetation turns to peaceful stands of ironwood followed by stands of young and mature Cook pine. After reaching a covered picnic shelter the angle of attack steepens and continues straight up the ridge over root ladders. After passing through a banyan tree, you finally pop out into the open along a narrow ridge with great views. Continue going up with the aid of steps and you reach a view to both sides of the island. For an even better view, you can take the trail of use (just beyond the End of Trail sign) along knife edged crumbly ridges and up eroded peaks with the aid of ropes to an even better view stretching beyond Kaneohe bay with Olomana in the foreground. It's a sweet view, but the trek to it is pretty crazy. Much safer to stick with the good view afforded by the true trail.
21b. Kuliouou Valley
Highlights: Shady jungle forest, well graded and maintained trail, potential for river alongside trail.
Terrain: An easy graded trail on dirt and rock. The last part of the trail becomes a little more overgrown and slippery in places.
If it were possible to have enough rain to produce a raging river, yet no mosquitoes and a perfectly dry trail, this could be a good hike. The trail follows a river gulch the entire way, with rock dropoffs where cascades and waterfalls would be expected. If water were flowing, the scenery would be quite nice, but the trail would probably turn into slippery mud and clay. Without the water, its an easy trail into jungle in the back of the Kuliouou Valley, but nothing terribly exciting unless you are a botanist.
Highlights: Climb to the top of the highest peak on Oahu, lots of scrambling with the aid of ropes, views, a boardwalk trail through a bog.
Terrain: Starts out along dirt road through cow pasture, then continues up dirt/clay until turning sharply up a muddy, grassy, rocky, narrow ridge. The 2nd half of the hike has cables set up to assist in the steep climb.
This is a tough and somewhat long (10 miles round trip) hike to the top of Mt. Ka'ala. Access requires a permit so I went with the HTMC. The first half is a just a long uphill trek, the 2nd half is nearly all climbing with the aid of ropes. It's very steep without break. Good views of the north shore and along the Waianae. The final bit is up a cement staircase to a road. We went to the backside of the 'golf ball' (FAA radar station) for lunch with a view. Clouds were just then rolling in, but the top of Ka'ala is typically socked in. There is also a short 1/4 to 1/2 mile boardwalk trail through the bog with native vegetation on top of this flat topped mountain. This also requires a permit.
23. Makua Rim
Highlights: Views of Makua Valley and pali, views of N. Shore, native plants and birds, old Nike missile site
Terrain: Starts out with a long walk up paved Page Rd on Farrington Hwy, continues on dirt road through campground area, then single track through forest on up to the Makua Rim trail which skirts a rim-top fence through grass and brush. Continue along the trail until it drops down to the road at the Nike missile site and follow the road back to your car.
This is a pleasant and hot hike in the dry Waianae. The road is shadeless for much of its length. The trail from the road to the rim and from the rim back to the road is single track through pleasant forest. The actual Makua rim trail follows a fence along the rim as you make your way through grasses and shrubs - not much shade but this means great views both of Makua Valley and occassionally of the N. Shore. It is possible to see elepaio and apapane in the forest sections of the hike.
24. Aina Haina Backyard
Highlights: Hike begins at my front door! Ridge climb and walk with great views and solitude. This is a trail of use only and nobody uses it. Have the ridge to yourself, inhabited only by wild parrots. Fantastic views up valley, and back down to the neighborhood and sea
Terrain: rocks, grasses, tripping thick underbrush, cut branches, crumbly rocks at the current terminus, sharp dropoffs partly hidden under grasses. Not maintained.
This trail appeared out my backdoor awhile ago. Someone has been coming by with cutters and ribbons carving a trail through the thick jungle and grasses out back. The trail follows the dry gulch for about 15 minutes, over rocks and through grasses. It is not easy walking yet. It then turns uphill to the left and climbs the triangular hill behind my house. It reaches a great view looking up the valley, and shortly after that splits into 2 branches. The right branch peters out after a climb up a crumbly cliff, the left branch leads straight up to the peak of the 'Pyramid' mountain behind my house. From here views are sensational, and it is easy walking along the ridge mauka towards the Ko'olau crest. Great views down either side of the ridge. On the return it is possible to climb straight down the face of the pyramid, following the ribbons. This trail is somewhat challenging, but leads right back to my door!
24b. Aina Haina Backyard 2
Highlights: Hike begins a short walk from my house on the other side of the Aina Haina Valley at the end of Hao Rd. Beautiful forest stroll, ridge climb and walk with great views and solitude. I've rarely seen anyone out here. There's a network of trails, so each outing is a different adventure.
Terrain: nice dirt trail at the outset, rocks, grasses, thick underbrush, overgrown uluhe, groves of guava.
This trail starts at the end of Hao Rd - head through an old rusty gate and thick grasses onto a nice dirt trail. The trail starts out flat through grassland with fantastic views into the back of the valley. After a short 5 min. or so it drops down into thick forest. Another 5-10 min will bring you to a turn off to the rt. This route is described in the Wailupe loop hike below. Continuing straight you'll pass turn offs to the left which head up to the Wiliwilinui trail. Stay on the path going straight (at the cliff, take the path down around to the right) and eventually you will pass through a nice bamboo forest. Cross a creek and continue alongside for a couple more minutes. Just where the Cook pine forest starts on the left, there is a trail up a hillside to the right leading to a magnificent camping spot. Look for a not so obvious trail contouring up around the hillside to the right. Taking this a short ways will lead to a left turn heading straight up a ridge. I took this to the top of the ridge and into thick uluhe. I didn't quite make it to the Ko'olau summit but I think it is possible from this route.
25. Kulepeamoa Ridge Loop (Niu Valley)
Highlights: Great variety, great views both sides of the island, good workout, adventure
Terrain: dirt/clay trail, eroded clay, grasses, forest walking, leg scratching ferns and other underbrush, thick underbrush on summit (go when recently cleared)
This (long) 6 mile loop trail has just about everything. It starts in the back of Niu Valley. A short hike up a road to the water tank turns into single track along a dry gulch through fairly pleasant forest. After a 15 min or so level walk, the trail turns steeply uphill. A strenuous climb ends in an ironwood stand. The trail then continues along a long ridge with good views (hawaii kai, Koko, Makapuu, Aaina haina! Diamond Head etc) and only a little roller coastering. The trail eventually steepens and requires one climb with a rope before finally attaining the summit and views to the other side of the island. From here, the loop proceeds directly along the very narrow summit crest for another 20 min or so to the End of the Hawaii Loa Ridge trail and another good spot to relax and enjoy views. Continue down the Hawaii Loa Ridge trail for quite a ways. Shortly after coming to a good view of the houses in the Hawaii Loa gated community, look for ribbons heading left steeply downhill through a guava forest. Act like a monkey and basically swing yourself down to the dry gulch below. Follow a nice trail along the gulch back to your car. Note, this trail is little used. The Niu Valley trail is not maintained or used often but seemed in reasonably good condition, but does require the cable at the one steep eroded section. I went with the HTMC and they had just cleared the summit crossing the week before. I doubt I would want to do an uncleared summit crossing.
26. Ka'iwa Ridge
Highlights: Good views, very short for those not wanting a long hike.
Terrain: Dirt/clay hardpack, rock
This is a very short hike (about 1 mile up) behind Lanikai, east of Kailua town. Very nice views of the offshore islands, pali, and west to Kaneohe. Good for a night hike.
27. Pu'u o Kona
Highlights: Great views both sides of Ko'olau, some variety, a bit of adventure
Terrain: Dirt/clay hardpack, forested hillsides, knife edge along Ko'olau crest
This is about a 6 mile+ trail that loops around Kuliouou. Starting at the trailhead for the usual state trail, this makeshift trail turns right off the main trail before it starts heading uphill. A scramble uphill gives way to a long climb up a ridge and onto a little used dirt road. This again turns into single track and eventually pops up to the Ko'olau crest. From here it is a long walk along a knife edge with fantastic views in every direction! Passing the state end of trail viewpoint, continue up loose gravel with the aid of ropes and on past a couple more fantastic vantage points, especially towards the north with views of Kaneohe and endless pali. At some point follow another trail down a ridge to a guava stand and from there scramble on down to the valley floor back near the trailhead. Look for pink ribbons if they exist. Ropes in some sections are also very helpful.
Highlights: Long views, wilderness, slippery trail
Terrain: slick dirt/clay when wet, grassy ridge
This is probably a spectacular long wilderness trail (12 miles return) on a clear day. On a rainy low cloud day, it is a very muddy slog through clouds. Whenever clouds opened up slightly views were tantalizing. I didn't quite get to the cloudy peak of the Ko'olau, there seemed no point to slog further and 9 miles round trip was a decent amount of exercise in the cold muck. I definitely hope to get back on a clear day.
Highlights: Views of most of the island, adventure, solitude, wilderness, slippery trail
Terrain: slick dirt/clay, a wet root section on the Pauoa trail, some exposure with steep drop-offs.
The trailhead for this is really the terminus of the Pauoa trail. Easiest route to access this is to start at the Tantalus Kalawahine Trailhead and take that trail to the annoying wet and rooty Pauoa trail. At trail's end, find a trail of use through some bushes to an unmaintained but obvious and easy to follow trail. The trail contours around pali for about a mile. After rain (nearly always) the trail is quite slick and has some exposure with steep drop-offs so walk carefully. After rounding a final bend, the trail heads straight up a ridge to the mountain tops above and the Ko'olau crest. It's a fairly easy climb with 3 short steep sections with steps hacked out of the red clay. Easy when fairly dry but I wouldn't want to hike this in rain. Great views during this stretch of the trail from Honolulu up to the Waianae. Great views of the other side of the island come into view near the top. Probably 7 miles round trip.
30. Makapu'u Tom Tom
Highlights: Sensational views of eastern tip of island, ocean, and offshore islands. Dry desert environment.
Terrain: Rock, hardpack dirt.
The trailhead is less than obvious, but starts with a hike up an old dirt road just across the hwy from the Makapu'u viewpoint. Once cresting the hillside, find a single track heading towards and up along the cliffside. The trail stays right along the cliff edge, so although somewhat overgrown, it is relatively easy to find. Views are incredible and much time is spent just above the marine life park, with continuously barking seals. Great views of Koko crater leeward. After passing an old nike missile site and more sensational views find a trail heading steeply down a ridge to Waimanalo straight below (the Tom-Tom). You'll need a car shuttle to get you back to Makapu'u.
Highlights: Wilderness, adventure, awesome views, especially of the valley the trail climbs up out of.
Terrain: Mud, dirt, rock, rivers, overgrown jungle, bog
This trail is, for the most part, not accessible. It is on land owned by the Kamehameha schools and requires a permit that they don't willingly give out. Best to go with a group like the HTMC which only does this trail very infrequently. Also best to go after they have cleared out the trail a bit. The route itself starts out in a valley with a river crossing early on, then heads straight uphill for awhile until it reaches the switchback section. These switchbacks are cut out of the cliffside and meander their way up the valley wall to the mountain top. Slippery mud, landslides, and waterfall pour-offs, not to mention long, sheer dropoffs make this 1-2 foot wide trail more than a little exciting and challenging. Once at the top, the trail continues level through jungle scenery to another river crossing, at which point it continues uphill to a stellar view of a waterfall and, shortly thereafter, a fabulous viewpoint. From here on up to the summit, it is extremely overgrown and the trail itself is a bog/mud pit. If it has rained up there recently, expect to be ankle to shin deep in water and mud for at least a couple miles. The end of the trail is the junction with the Ko'olau summit trail.
32. Wailupe Loop
Highlights: Right near home, long wilderness trek through back of my valley, a short summit crossing, views both sides island.
Terrain: Mud, dirt, underbrush, can be overgrown if not cleared recently
This loop trail starts as a road through high grasses in the back of the Aina Haina Valley at the end of Hao street (slip around the old gate with overgrown grasses). At a (possibly marked) junction turn right and down, cross a stream, then climb up to a ridge. The trail climbs along the ridge for quite a ways (a few miles?) before cresting the Ko'olau summit. There's a good spot to sit and enjoy the views of the windward side, then turn left and hike along the summit to the end of the Wiliwilinui trail (15-20min, slippery after recent rains and overgrown if not cleared recently, watch your footing). To make the loop, hike down this trail to where it turns into a road, and then for another 15 minutes. Where the road makes a right turn, follow ribbons left into the woods and down a very steep hillside through guava. At the bottom, turn right at 2 junctions to get back to the grassy highway back out.
33. Tripler Ridge
Highlights: Nice, long ridge trail, good views, never ending...
Terrain: dirt, underbrush, mud, moss
Long ridge hike starting behind Tripler hospital. From a neighborhood street behind the hospital, take hikers allowed road to another left turn paved road heading steeply uphill for quite a ways. Lots of guava. Eventually the road turns to single track and continues through mud, over roots and hardpack, mostly level for a long ways before continuing upwards towards the crest. Unfortunately, there are many, many false peaks before the real crest of the Ko'olau is finally reached.
34. Waiahole Uka
Highlights: Great views, great exercise climbing seemingly vertically up the Ko'olau
Terrain: Mud, dirt, underbrush, nasty uluhe ferns, overgrown if club has not cleared recently.
This tough trail starts at the end of the Waiahole Valley road- continue through closed gated road, take left prong across river, continue to ribbons leading up hunters trail steeply uphill. When the level ditch trail is reached, turn left for 5min of easy walking, then watch for ribbons at an ironwood grove heading straight uphill through nasty uluhe ferns. This section was relentlessly hot, humid, shadeless, and uphill. Eventually a modicum of shade in low forest is reached, but the pitch becomes steeper, and the ridge more knife edged. There are 2 rope sections. Throughout watch your footing and always keep a handhold on the rooted vegetation. It's easy to slip or punch through moss covered holes with the nearest solid ground about 800 feet below... After a good, stiff climb, stunning views will be reached. A final grassy slope leads to a bog with open views. From here the Ko'olau summit trail can be accessed.
35. Waimano Ridge (upper)
Highlights: Long views, wilderness, wonderfully easy walking on graded contour trail, long (over 14 miles return)
Terrain: hardpack, clay, rocks, underbrush, nasty uluhe ferns, overgrown if club has not cleared recently.
This wonderfully relaxing hike may be long (over 7 miles one way to the 'summit' of the Ko'olau) but the wide, graded, contoured trail is a luxury for Oahu. No rollercoastering or steep climbs. The trail very, very gradually makes its way up to a low point on the Ko'olau ridge with superb views of Kaneohe Bay. It is mostly easy walking. The first half of the trail to the summit is wide, through forest with cliff on right and a long drop, but great views to the left. After carefully crossing a couple landslide sections the trail narrows to single track with uluhe trying to strangle it altogether. Wear long pants/gaiters or plan to be have your shins mauled. Also, I did this trail in perfect, dry conditions. I can imagine the trail become slick (on red clay) and muddy in normal/wet conditions.
36. Hakipu'u - Ka'a'wa circuit
Highlights: great views dropping into Ka'awa valley, pass by film locations
Terrain: Overgrown grass and other underbrush, dirt roads
This is a loop trail through Kualoa Ranch property and requires and extra fee. From the education center, bear left on jeep roads and eventually reach a rather overgrown forest/meadow trail. Some views makai. After skirting cliffs, the trail drops into small but pretty Hakipu'u valley on jeep trails, then reaches a short single track section that climbs up to a low ridge and drops down the other side into Ka'a'wa valley. Views here are fairly sensational. Once in Ka'a'wa valley, follow jeep roads to the right and out, passing several film shoot sites.
Highlights: nice ridge trail with great views mauka, back towards town, and down into Palolo Valley. Views of Ka'au Crater.
Terrain: maintained ungraded rollercoastering ridge trail, beware the uluhe ferns covering large sections of the ridge
This trail starts atop Sierra Dr. off Waialae, next to a chain link fence enclosing a water storage tower. It is well maintained ~3.5 miles one way entirely along a ridgeline. For the most part this means open views, although there are are short segments through forest, and many segments in the second half through thick uluhe (scratchy) fern. I did this hike on a voggy, windless, hot day so the views through the haze were pretty poor, but I can imagine this would be a pretty spectacular trail on a clear day. I found it very enjoyable and even with all the rollercoastering didn't find it too strenuous especially since there was quite a bit of relatively level walking, always a pleasant surprise on Oahu.
Highlights: long ridge trail with great views along the Kalihi Valley and back towards town, native vegetation, a pretty spectacular march up the Matterhorn (Kahuauli) for those who like heights, mountain top bog.
Terrain: rugged ungraded rollercoastering ridge trail, mud, dirt, soft pine needles, roots, and muddy bog
This trail starts off the Likelike but see the Ball trail book for detailed directions to find the not so obvious trailhead. This 6 mile one way route to the Ko'olau crest starts with a steep scramble straight up to attain the ridge. After reaching a dirt road, continue up this until reaching an old building on the right. This is the start of the Bowman trail. The first section is relatively flat with mild rollercoastering. The middle section of the trail has some extremely narrow segments only inches wide between steep dropoffs on either side. Watch your footing! The final section is a climb up what looks like a mini Matterhorn. The trail switchbacks up the face of this mountain and is pretty exciting with a really long drop off the side of the trail and pretty stunning views. Upon reaching the peak, it is another 15 min slog through muddy bog to reach the crest. The day I did this hike the peak was socked in so no view windward. The trail up until the bog was fairly dry but apparently is prone to being very wet and muddy. Although I didn't have any views windward, I did appreciate the cloudy, fairly cool day. I'm not sure I'd want to do this long hike on a hot, sunny day.
39. Pupukea summit + Kaunala
Highlights: Easy pleasant woodsy trail, nice N. Shore views.
Terrain: Long dirt road section followed by fairly well maintained dirt/mud trail to the Pupukea summit. The Kaunala trail on the way back is a nice state maintained grassy, wide trail.
This hike starts from the end of Pupukea Rd (next to the N. Shore Foodland). The first 2+ miles are along a road through pleasant forest. After slipping through the 2nd gate (military, no admittance!) continue on for another 10 min or so, then keep an eye out for a trail to the right. This quickly climbs up to nice N. Shore views. At a junction with a summit lookout, switchback right instead along the summit trail. After about 4 miles total hiking the trail peaks at a grassy knoll with good views and a good turnaround spot. From here, we hiked back to the road, and after passing through the military gate, turned right up another road and through another gate for about 1 mile before picking up the Kaunala trail to the left. This is a very pleasant well maintained contour forest trail that leads back to the original road, not too far from the trailhead parking.
40. Godek-Jaskulski (moanaloa ridge)
Highlights: Some nice views into Moanaloa valley, narrow dike crossing, nice valley walk, uluhe fern wacking
Terrain: Dirt ridge, heavily vegetated when not cleared, steep climbs up and down ridge, dirt road in valley
This hike starts at the Moanaloa Valley trailhead. Instead of taking the dirt road into the valley, this trail starts out by climbing up the ridge on the left, then rollercoastering along the ridge to a sign pointing to the route back down another little ridge into the valley. Upon reaching the road, turn right and enjoy a 2 mile stroll through the beautiful valley. The ridge itself is very narrow in places and after the turn down sign, can be quite overgrown. Several of us tried to take the trail all the way to the summit and after some serious bush(uluhe fern)-wacking only made it to the false summit. Some good views into the valley and on the other side of the H3.
41. Pu'u o Kila
Highlights: Stunning scenery, wonderful variety, fun climb
Terrain: maintained forest trail, narrow ridge, climb with root handholds, several stream crossings
This hike loops around Kahana valley with a climb up a very steep pointy peak in the middle of the loop. It starts out taking the nakoa trail clockwise, then veers off at an intentionally obscure location and climbs up the eastern arm or ridge of Pu'u o Kila. A short ridge walk with awesome views leads to a short but steep near vertical climb with the aid of roots, trees, and ropes. The climb down the western arm is somewhat treacherous with sheer dropoffs on either side of a very narrow and steep ridge. Wonderful views abound. Back in the pleasant forest the trail crosses several streams and rejoins the nakoa trail, passes through a bamboo and other interesting forest, passes by several pill boxes (which look like old Mayan ruins reclaimed by jungle), and eventually returns to the start.
42. Pu'u Keahe a Kahoe
Highlights: Stunning scenery of both sides island, beautiful valley, very pleasant Ko'olau traverse
Terrain: dirt/stone road through valley, narrow ridges, steep climbs through forest/grasses, mud
This hike loops around the back of Moanuloa valley after a long hike in (and out) on the valley road. Starting at the park, take the road in almost to its terminus, then veer right and up the steep side of the valley on a narrow ridge to the Tripler ridge and trail (the trail may not be obvious). Turn left and continue on to the Ko'olau summit and sensational views. Great views of the west side of the island on the way up. From the summit, take the summit trail in a counter clockwise direction to the summit of Pu'u Keahe a Kahoe. I found the traverse fairly safe compared to some locations along the Ko'olau and the views of both sides of the island are phenominal. Great views of the airport area and the Waianae, and of the Likelike and Kaneohe. Once at the Pu'u, turn left and down,on the long middle ridge back to the Moanuloa Valley floor. Follow the road back to your car.
43. Wahiawa Hills
Highlights: Pleasant woods, nice swimming hole
Terrain: forest floor, river crossings
This hike makes a loop out of a network of trails in the Wahiawa hills. Use the Ball book for a description of a possible loop, but warning, I think it could be easy to get lost back here! The trail has quite a few steep up and downs with occassional flat, more relaxing sections up on ridges. There are several stream crossings and your feet will most likely get wet. There is a fantastic swimming hole worth taking a dunk in. Overall the forest of eukalyptus and paper bark is very open and airy, less tropical than most of Oahu trails. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous uluhe fern also makes an appearance along the trail.
x. Pu'u Piei
Where is this trail? I tried to find this trail using the Ball Hikers Guide to Oahu but failed. Taking the gravel road next to the green orientation center, and taking the road/path as it turned into the woods at the 3rd utility pole went ok, although the trail was a lot more overgrown than expected (its in a State Park and this first section of the trail is supposed to be maintained by this park, HA!). Anyways, I quickly lost the trail once in the woods. Two other hikers, also walking with said guide, approached as I was retreating. We agreed to try together to find the trail to the fish shrine, but after bushwacking up a ridge we eventually gave up. There was truly no sign of a trail, no signs pointing out the native vegetation, and even perhaps intentional erasing of the trail... not sure, but I don't believe it is there any more.