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Honolulu hikes and beyond

INhonolulu's Hiking Guide, 2013

Will Caron

on 2 August 2013

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Transcript of Honolulu hikes and beyond

Honolulu hikes and beyond
INhonolulu's guide to the hikes all incoming UH Manoa Freshman should undertake
INhonolulu Staff
There are many beautiful hikes on the island of O‘ahu, most of which lead to spectacular views, amazing waterfall systems, military bunkers and more. While these hikes are spread fairly evenly throughout the island, the hikes we've selected for this guide are all well-known, reasonable and accessible to UH Mānoa students who want to branch out from their campus and explore the island on which they live. We hope you find this guide useful and get inspired to go out and hike!
In your backyard...
A great starter hike for new residents of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa dormitories, Wa‘ahila Ridge Trail is located above faculty housing, across from the Hawaiian Studies kalo fields on Dole Street. After a short climb up the rocks, the trail begins with a great view of the campus. From there it takes you up into the jungle along a fairly easy trail. Watch carefully for mountain bikers though, who often ride down the trail from the Wa‘ahila Ridge State Recreation Area above. Once you get to the park, you can either enjoy a rest at the picnic tables or a view of Mānoa Valley, with Tantalus on the far side.
The trail continues up past the park toward the back of Mānoa valley to a place called Mount Olympus, but becomes more difficult at that point and should be attempted only be experienced hikers. Every year there seem to be a few hikers who get lost and require rescuing.
This is the perfect hike for those who don’t want to venture too far out or sacrifice much of the day (you can even take the #5 bus). Much of this 1.5 trail is more of a “walk” than a “hike,” perfect for taking visiting family and friends. It’s also cool and shady, which is a nice change from many of O‘ahu’s hikes. I recommend combining your trip with the adjacent Lyon Arboretum, which has some beautiful flowers and other plants, as well as a stunning and peaceful spot at Inspiration Point. This is particularly worthwhile if the falls aren’t too impressive, which unfortunately is difficult to predict—depending on rainfall, it could be a pretty pathetic trickle or a really lovely spot.

A couple tips: Use bug spray if you don’t like being a mosquito buffet, and wear either sturdy sneakers you don’t care about or rubber slippers you can take off to deal with the mud. There’s paid parking at the bottom ($5, $3 kama‘āina).
Wa‘ahila Ridge
Manoa Falls &
Lyon Arboretum

Diamond Head
This is one of the best-defined trails on O‘ahu, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it (plug “Diamond Head” into Google); the only downside of this is that it’s also heavily trafficked. Still, it’s worth it for sweeping panoramic views of Honolulu. Admission costs $5 per car or $1 per walk-in person, but the drive up the hill from the street is long enough that I definitely recommend trying to get a ride, rather than busing it.

The volcanic crater was used as a military instillation (Fort Ruger) starting in 1909 and several bunkers and battery stations were built to house the eight 12-inch mortars that once were housed in the fort. Today the park is a United States State Monument.

The hike itself is short (only 1.6 miles), but steep, dry and hot—so start early, bring water and plan to reward yourself after with a shave ice from the truck in the parking lot! The trail is well maintained and has handrails, though you’ll have to duck in a few spots and make it up and down some terrifyingly steep steps. When you get to the top, there’s an observation area from which you get 360-degree views of the island: Waikīkī and Koko Head are highlights. Even if there are tour groups coming in, don’t let them pressure you into moving along too quickly!
Located within the lush rainforests of the Makiki Valley State Recreation Area on the slopes of Tantalus, parking for this hike is available a few feet past the yellow gate entrance to the left. Keep track of the time while hiking though, as the Rec Area gates close at sunset. This hike is actually made up of three trails: The Maunalaha Trail and Kānealole Trail both lead to the Makiki Valley Trail, which traverses the ridge line above the valley. The actual Makiki Valley Loop Trail starts right by the Hawaii Nature Center, past the restrooms. Like any valley hike in Hawai‘i, the trail can get wet and muddy, so remember to bring mosquito repellent. Loop trails can be taken in either direction, though the right side of this loop is traditionally a more difficult starting place than the left. Filled with small, intersecting trails, this hike offers nearly endless variation, such as the mini 0.5-mile detour that takes you to ‘Ualaka‘a Trail and a unique view of Diamond Head. The Makiki Valley Loop Trail is pet, child and senior friendly. The entire loop is 2.5 miles and takes approximately two hours to complete.
Makiki Valley Loop Trail
Ka‘au Crater
Ka‘au Crater is one of the more complicated, hidden hikes on O‘ahu, but offers some of the best waterfalls on the island. Located at the back of Pālolo Valley right by the Palolo Zen Temple (do not park here), the hiking entrance to Ka‘au Crater is on Waiomao Road on the left where there will be five mailboxes in a row. Park your car to the right of the “No Trespassing” sign, where you will start the hike. As the trail is not public, be respectful.
Ka‘au Crater is an approximately 5–6 hour hike, so plan accordingly. It's also a difficult hike: bring bug spray, jeans you do not mind getting dirty, hiking boots or shoes that have a good grip and snacks and water. The best day to attempt this hike is on a nice, sunny day when it hasn’t rained for a while, because this trail is known for being muddy, slippery, and dangerous, especially when it comes time to cross the narrow ridges with nothing to grip. You will come across three waterfalls total before reaching the zenith, which comes with an amazing view of the crater itself, as well as both windward and leeward O‘ahu. Follow the trail guides and take advantage of the anchored ropes. The trickiest part is hiking the third waterfall because you literally must hike up the waterfall itself. Also keep in mind while hiking that it is easier going up than down. Be prepared to slip every now and then, but pace yourself and have fun. The top is worth it.

Jackass Ginger
(Judd Trail)

This quick hike leads to a small waterfall—maybe 3–4 feet high—that falls into a pool large enough to swim in and generally frolic, which is something you’ll want to do at such a delightful watering hole (ignore the chain link fence and house in the background). To get to the trailhead, take the Pali and turn right at Nu‘uanu Pali Drive. Continue a little more than a mile to the Judd Trail sign and park on the side of the road. Once on the trail, cross the stream and head to the right. There are two trails to get to the pool: one follows the edge of the stream, and a higher one runs parallel and connects to the longer Judd Trail. Either way, just follow the sounds of splashing and fun. You can’t miss it.
Located on Nu‘uanu Pali Road, just past the maintenance building for Reservoir #3, is a doorway-sized hole in the brush. It is quite literally a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trailhead, which is fitting, since this isn’t a normal hiking trail. You won't find a glorious waterfall on this trail (though nearby trails do boast such waterfalls), nor is
this the type of hike you go on for the workout.

This doorway in the brush leads to the ruins of Kamehameha III's summer palace and an adjacent heiau. The path there is a short one (less than a quarter mile round trip), though you'll feel as if you’ve been transported across time. Once you start in
to the trail, you'll quickly find yourself enveloped by the forest. Mosquitoes are active here, so if you're sensitive to their bites, dress accordingly or bring repellent. After several yards you’ll come to a fork. Take the left path and at the top of the hill you’ll come upon the ruins.
Before the remnants of the palace stands a large stone with a plaque describing the history of the site, including details of a large celebration held there in 1847. At the stone’s base, you'll see the offerings left by previous visitors, such as lei, flowers, fruit, candy and even coins. The stone ruins of the palace outline the living areas and a detached kitchen, along with anearby house, garden, walking paths and the heiau.
Tread lightly here and leave the area as you found it. Do not disturb the ruins or take anything from the site. Be respectful of the surroundings and bring an offering to leave at the stone. You'll be rewarded with the serenity and beauty of the site and with being witness to a bit of hidden Hawaiian history.
of the heiau,
the site is sacred.
Koko Head
Not so much a hike as it is a nonstop, killer leg workout, the entrance to the 1,048 stairs of Koko Head is off Kaumakani Street. Park near the baseball field of Koko Head District Park and head toward the base of the mountain. Sunscreen and water are must-haves on this hike, as shade is
something you will only find once you reach the pillboxes at the top. This hike is not recommended for the extremely out-of-shape. If, however, your legs are up for it, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular 360 degree view of the East-side, from the beautiful Hanauma Bay, down into Koko Crater, to Kahala, Waikīkī and Honolulu all the way to the airport.
Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to catch the sunrise/sunset and more manageable amounts of sun on your neck. on your neck.
Makapu‘u Tidepools
Makapu‘u Lighthouse is visible all the way from Waimānalo. What's not visible are the tidepools behind it, located on the ocean-side of the cliff it's built on. Park at the lighthouse lot and take the lighthouse trail up and around the ridge to great views of the ocean and, if conditions are right, the island of Moloka‘i. When you arrive at the visitor-marked whale-watching spot, you can look down the steep hill to the tidepools below.
Carefully make your way down the hill, as it consists of loose rock and various brambles. At low tide, the pools are better for observing the amazing diversity of Hawai‘i's tidepool eco-systems, while at higher tides it's possible to take a dip.
Be careful for wana (sea urchins) though, which tend to cling to the underside of ledges and
in crevices along
the sides
of the pool.
If you do step on one though, don't panic. Only very rare kinds of wana have spines large enough and with toxins powerful enough to require immediate medical attention, and those tend to live in deeper water.
Calmly make your way back up as carefully as you can and head to the lifeguards at nearby Sandy Beach Park for a hot-water and vinegar soak to dissolve the spines
and neutralize the proteins that produce the toxin.

Hawai‘i Loa Ridge
This is a roughly four-hour ridge hike that ends at the top of the Ko‘olau range, where you can look over and see the windward side. It’s a tough, hot trek up and down rock formations along the ridge, but the view is very rewarding. Take a lot of water and maybe snacks. To get there, drive east on Kalaniana‘ole Highway. Turn right into the gated community on Pu‘uikena Drive.
Make sure someone has a Hawai‘i State ID, as you’ll need it at the guard shack to ensure your access to the public hike. Go to the top of Pu‘uikena Drive, where there’s a parking lot, bathroom, and picnic area in front of the trailhead to the right. Check where you park; there are hours.
Head East on Kalaniana‘ole Hwy and take a left on Kuliou‘ou Street. Head into the valley and take a right on Kuliou‘ou Road, then right onto Kala‘au Place. At the Board of Water Supply gate, there are a series of switchbacks that will get you up onto the trail head. After an hour or so of mellow hiking through the woods, you'll find a rest area with picnic tables. Refuel here because it's about to get way steeper.
The rest of the hike takes you up past the forest onto the ridge line itself. Complete with a tree with a man-sized hole in it, a rope and stairs you’ll need to mountaineer up and great views of the valley below, the trail ends at the very top of the ridge. From here you'll be rewarded for your hard work with a spectacular sight: From Sea Life Park to the Kāne‘ohe Marine Corps base on one side and Koko Head to Pearl Harbor on the other, both sides of the island are visible at once beneath swirling tradewind clouds that look close enough to reach out and grab. The sheer drop of the windward side of the Ko‘olau range plummets down to Waimānalo below your very feet. Truly magnificent.
Lanikai Pillboxes
Outside town...
The entrance to this popular trail is tucked away in a neighborhood: From Mokulua Drive, take the second right onto Ka‘elepulu Drive and try to find street parking (be careful—this neighborhood is notorious for the police being strict with parking tickets). Near the top of the hill, you’ll find a sign that says “Private Driveway.” Look closely and you’ll see the trail entrance, likely with others coming and going. The trail is generally thought of as beginner level, but there’s a lot of erosion and loose, dry dirt that can make it easy to fall on the hills (if you want a little help, bear right and use the ropes to pull yourself up). Once you get to the ridge, you’ll get gorgeous views of the ocean and the twin Mokulua islands on the left and the Ko‘olau range on the right.
At the top are old bunkers covered in colorful graffiti which are perfect for climbing on top of for an even better view and a spot to catch a breeze (and your breath).
You can hike to the first, second or third pillbox before heading back (it’ll take only 20 minutes or so to make it the first one); and after you finish the hike, head down to Lanikai or Kailua beach and jump in to cool off.
One of the most popular hikes on O‘ahu, the trail up Mt. Olomana is nearly the perfect mix of forest and ridge, cardio and rope-aided rock climbing. And the 180-degree view from the top is spectacular; even on overcast days it’s fun to sit on the peak as the clouds rush by.

To get there from the east side, take the Pali Highway and turn right at Auloa Road (the first major stoplight after descending from the mountains). Follow Auloa as it winds
through forest and residential areas until you get to Kalaniana‘ole Highway. Turn right just before the highway onto a side road that crosses a bridge and leads to a guard shack for Luana Hills. Park on the side of the road before the bridge and proceed on foot up the paved road. The start of the trail is about 10 minutes along on the left, and is marked with a sign. If you plan to do only the first peak, plan on a four-hour round trip. Check out the second and third peaks only if you’re feeling capable and have friends to
go with you.
Pu‘u Ma‘eli‘eli
This short (30-minute) hike in Kahalu‘u ends at a pillbox with a spectacular view of the ridge descending to the ocean. It’s recommended as an easy hike for kids, or a quick early-morning hike since it leads to a great spot for watching the sunrise. But watch out! The way to the lookout is one of many trails, dirt bike paths, and access roads on the hill and if you’re not careful you can take a wrong turn and get lost.
The trailhead is to the left at an, ahem, private-property sign and might be marked with a ribbon. Go left at the first junction, and left at a second junction. Look for ribbons to make sure you’re on track. You’ll know you’ve gone the right way when you arrive at a wooden sign that says Pu‘u Ma‘eli‘eli. Continue on, passing a pillbox in the woods before the final pillbox at the lookout point.
To get there, drive down Kahekili Highway and park on Hui Iwa Street in the residential area across from Valley of the Temples. After parking, walk back down to Kahekili and proceed south along the left side of the highway (facing oncoming traffic).
Pu‘u Manamana
(Crouching Lion)

This is a long ridge hike (5–6 hours) with amazing views of Kahana Valley and some scary precipices that are surprisingly navigable once you get over the fact that you’re standing next to a ridiculous drop.
To get there, drive out to Ka‘a‘awa, past the Crouching Lion Inn, and park on Trout Farm Road. Walk back out to the highway and turn right; the trailhead is marked with ribbons and will be up a steep hill on the right not long after a tī farm.
The trail will take you through the woods and up a steep path to the rock formation known colloquially as Crouching Lion. Check out the view of the ocean and sheer cliffs before proceeding further up into the mountains and scaling a series of rock formations along the narrow ridge. You’ll feel like an epic mountaineer.
Eventually you’ll get to an area of ridge that has tree cover that becomes dense bushes (wear long pants, it’s scratchy). From here continue on to “the turnout” which is a junction. Take the right trail, which heads down along cemetery ridge and at some points is covered by a narrow path of Lord-of-the-Rings-esque twisted roots and moss. This leads you back to Trout Farm Road. The other trail (left and up) takes you further into the mountains to an area that is known for being extremely dangerous.
Manana Trail to
Waimano Pool

Manana Trail begins at the top of the Pearl City Palisades neighborhood and splits into two paths. The first continues along the ridge line into a hunting area, while the second descends into Waimano Valley to a waterfall and a series of cascading pools, deep and clean enough to swim in.
To get there, follow Waimano Home Road into Pearl City until you get to Komo Mai Drive and turn mauka. At the end of Komo Mai Drive, park and head to the pedestrian access. Unless you feel like hiking the ridge, which requires a deal of caution, follow the marked trail to the fork and take a right. After a steep decline filled with vein-like roots (known as “cardiac hill”—you'll know why on the hike back up), the trail switchbacks down to the falls.
There are several ledges, the tallest of which is over 30 feet high, as well as a lower rope to swing into the deepest pool. But jump at your own risk.
Use your best judgment about whether you can clear the ledges below and land in the deep safety of the pool. The hike takes about an hour and a half each way and the biggest danger is probably wearing yourself out splashing around. You'll need plenty of energy to make it back up that hill.
Ka‘ena Point
Getting to beautiful and mysterious Ka‘ena Point is a matter of walking really, not hiking, but don’t underestimate it. Plan on a few hours in the sun with no shade (i.e. bring water and sunscreen, and consider wearing real shoes instead of slippers).

The point itself has a certain energy, and is known in Hawaiian mō‘olelo as the place where spirits jump into the afterlife. If you look closely you can usually spy a seal lounging on the rocks. You can approach Ka‘ena Point from the west side or the North Shore (coming from either direction, just drive to the end of Farrington Highway, park, and start walking) but we recommend the west side. Not only is the path nicer, as it passes by coastal rock formations, the actual drive through Wai‘anae is great, and there’s nothing like a west-side sunset.
Disclaimer: INhonolulu most certainly is not encouraging you to attempt anything illegal. If you decide to try a hike that isn't open to the public, be respectful and discreet (and remember we're not responsible for your choices).
Infographic by Will Caron /
INhonolulu Magazine
Karleanne Matthews /
INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning top left of four: Lyon Arboretum's flora and fauna
Karleanne Matthews /
INhonolulu Magazine
Karleanne Matthews /
INhonolulu Magazine
Karleanne Matthews /
INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning top
left of four: View of the Mokuluas, the ridge-line with Kailua in the background, graffiti inside the pillboxes
Karleanne Matthews /
INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning left of three: View of Honolulu from the trail head, view of Mānoa Valley and view of Mt. Olympus from the ridge
Kelsey Amos / INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning left of three: Hikers use ropes to overcome the waterfalls, which can gain force after rains. At the top you can look down into the crater.
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Natalie Schack /
INhonolulu Magazine
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Natlie Schack /
INhonolulu Magazine
Natlie Schack /
INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning left of three:
Views along the hike
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Overlooking Ka‘a‘awa
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Looking back at the Wai‘anae Coast from Ka‘ena Point
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning top of two:
Ka‘ena Point
Kelsey Amos /
INhonolulu Magazine
Lauren Tsugawa /
INhonolulu Magazine
Leonard Jacobs /
Beginning top middle of four: Cardiac hill, views of the waterfall and pools
Courtesy Raymond Walsh
The crouching lion
Joel / flickr
Beginning top right of four: View of Ka‘a‘awa from above the lion, view of Kahana Bay, view of the ridge-line and from atop the lion
Tom Davis / flickr
Beginning top right of three: Kāne

ohe Bay and Marine Corps Base, view of the K
o‘olau Mountains from the trail and view of He‘eia
Leonard Jacobs / flickr
Mt. Olomana from Waimānalo
Capsun Poe / flickr
Beginning opposite, top left of two: Views of Mt. Olomana's peaks
Ken Tam / flickr
Beginning top of two: Views of the Mokuluas from the pillboxes at dawn
Lauren Tsugawa /
INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning left of two: Views of Wa
lo from the top; Lanikai direction and Makapu‘u direction
Will Caron / INhonolulu Magazine
Eugene Kim / flickr
Eugene Kim / flickr
Eugene Kim / flickr
Alan Levine / flickr
Beginning top of six: Views of Alan Davis, Sandy Beach and Koko Head from the lighthouse trail and the tidepools
Chantelle Matsumura / INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning top left of four: Views of the Koko Head stairs, Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach
Jeanne Hua / INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning far left of four: Views of the ruins
Richard Melendez / INhonolulu Magazine
Beginning top, left of two: Views of Judd Trail and the Jackass Ginger pool
Aksynth / flickr
Beginning left of three: Views along the loop
Jeanne Hua /
INhonolulu Magazine
Mānoa Falls
Frank Hamm / flickr
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