Kawailoa Trail from Pupukea to Laie

OK let’s just start by being honest.  This is a one time only trail.  Yes, we have done 100 milers and multiple Ultra distance runs and hikes, this trail made a few of those pleasurable.  It’s not the terrain; it’s a slow steady climb to the Koolau Summit trail.  It’s not the distance by any means.  6 .5 miles to the trailhead, 6 miles of trail to the summit and 8 miles of nicer trail across the summit and down to Laiea.  So 20 miles give or take isn’t very far all things considered……but this beast is a mental grinder.  We read about the overgrown nature of the trail.  Only a handful of people have done this one over the last decade and the trail shows this lack of attention.  We took along machete’s based on the warnings and were ever so happy we did.  We spent about 5 hours once on the actual trail hacking Elephant Grass and ferns.  I’ve done some remote trails that require some work to travel, but this on took the cake.  Marc and I had to take turns in the front just to give the other person time to recover.  The grass and ferns were 5-6 foot tall.    A true beast of a trail that took 9 hours and left me beat down.

Dirt road from Pupukea to Helemano. Love the old bridges.
Another cool bridge.
Wind farms from the paved road.
The paved road and wind farms. OK if you hit the wind farm entry roads you have gone about 1/2 mile to far! Just saying!
Told him it was on the big curve we passed. LOL
Trailhead is an old jeep road that starts on a sharp corner 6.5 miles from the Pupukea start.
The jeep road is just across the street from this fence. Think sharp corner, old road leaving on your left and this on your right. If this lines up and you have gone 6 plus miles turn left onto the old overgrown road and get ready for fun. Starts easy and open.
This was about 2 miles in, off in a valley. Odd to see a huge cleared section like this.

We started at the Boy Scout Camp at Pupukea at 7am.  The sun was just rising and the air was crisp and cool.  I had run the military road over to Helemano before so I knew it would be a roller coaster but nothing new.  We started a bit fast to try and hit the trailhead in cool weather.  I guess we should have read a bit more because we missed the trailhead and did an extra mile each way before even setting foot on the trail. The trail starts on the old military jeep road.  We started out saying how easy it was.  Too funny since we later ended the hike saying it was a blankity blank.  No joking this trail is a bear.  The portion on the old road  is easy to follow, you never feel you could get lost.  That said you  have 8 foot tall elephant grass to chop or push through.  Wear long pant or high socks, long sleeve shirts and have gloves.  It will save you a lot of pain.  We had two machete so we made quick work of the  brush but it whips your butt to never have time to recover .    The trail is also a haven for pigs .  We saw several sows with piglets.  CUTE yes but the damage they cause is terrible.  Once you are in about 2-3 miles you will see where the single track trail cuts off to the left.  It is quite clear and marked with ribbons.  Now your real fun begins.  The nice single track turns into a wall of ferns and overgrowth. We chopped our way for the next 3-4 miles. Follow this one piece of advice and always take the left side of ridge.  The pigs have made trails that look like the main trail everywhere but the real trail is almost always the outside left trail.  Follow the ribbons and stay left and after a few hours you will find the Koolau Summit Trail when you see the metal platforms that blew off the top at the old helicopter landing site on the summit.

Marc looking back at the wind farms.
The summit looks close but seems to never get any closer as you proceed.
Finally at the summit when you see the metal debris
1:30 and we took a 5 minute break for lunch at the summit. From here the trail will cross the small valley and head left on the ridge in front of you. Just don’t turn left and stay on the same ridge. You have to cross to the ridge in front of you that goes toward the ocean.
Looks so easy….LOOKS!

From the summit make sure you cross the little valley and bear left up the hill to head towards Laie and the continuation oft he Koolau Summit Trail.  The trail will contour the summit with great views of Laie.  Just proceed until you hit a junction about 20-30 minutes in.  It has a sign that reads “Laie”.  Take this right and stay on the trail all the way down.  From the summit you also hit an open trail and it soooooooo nice to be able to move fast and even run again.

Don’t miss the Laie Trail or you have to hike back to Pupukea on the Koolau Summit.
Lower Laie Falls. Stop and cool down.

The Laie Falls sign marks the falls about 2 miles down the trail.  Stop and enjoy then head down to the road and Laie.  It’s about 4 more miles of trail and old jeep roads to the finish.   Have fun and be safe.  For a nice hike go soon while it is open from our efforts in clearing the trail.  Hike on!


Moanalua Valley from the Kamananui Valley Road and the Kulana’ahane Trail

I have been filling in the ridges to the Koolau Summit Trail and this is an easy quick trail that hits the summit trail about 1/2 mile below the Stairway to Heaven.  I’d have to say it’s the easiest way to the summit trail I’ve run.  I was at the summit in about 1:30 from the car.

Moanalua Valley Park
Kamananui Valley Trail Road

Park at the district park or on Ala Aolani Street and take the road to the back of the park.  From here just stay on the road for about 1 1/2 miles until you see the Kulana’ahane Trail sign on the left side of the road.  You will not miss it.  At the sign cross the creek and stay left.  A faint feeder trail on the right just inside the trail will take you up Moanalua middle ridge and end just past the Strairway to Heaven.  While the easiest way to the Stairway, it’s not the trail for today.  Stay left and cross the creek 25 times to get to the end of the maintained trail.  There is one left about a mile in, but pass it. It also summits a little more toward Aiea but it’s a more difficult trail than this one.

IMG_1506 - Copy
Kulana’ahane Trail sign
IMG_1509 - Copy
Moanalua Stream
The trail is carved through the brush.
Very peaceful.
The short climb starts here.

The trail is not difficult nor hard to track.  Just be watchful as you cross the streams boulders and always find the your way on each side of stream crossing.  Be cautious in rain as the valley collects a lot of rain and is prone to flash floods.  With the right conditions I’d call this a safe hike for adults.  Young children might not be a good fit due to all the boulders that you have to scramble over in the stream crossings.  Please be thoughtful of your keiki.  Once at the end of the maintained section just continue up a steep but easy trail tot he summit.  Watch for the drops at the summit as the drops are very dangerous.  There is a nice flat area at the summit so pack a picnic.  Go careful on your descent.

This is the left ridge that you didn’t take about a mile back
The falls just below the Starirway to Heaven were dry today but it is amazing on a wet day.
The sign at the KST summit.
H-3 Tunnel on the Kaneohe side
H-3 and my finger in the shot. Yes, I’m a poor photographer.
From the summit looking at the top of the Stairway to Heaven. There are new ropes in place to climb to the stairs but be careful. It is steep in 2-3 spots. The new ropes were placed in mid 2014.

I ran down and was rewarded with a slight ankle sprain.  It was still a fast trail taking only 3 1/2 hours door to door even with the ankle.  Watch for the remains of the 1948 F-47N plane crash on the trail.  It’s a bit of history.

Have fun, be safe and Hike On.

Koko Crater Arch Trail

By the Blowhole

Parking is by the Blowhole on Kalanianaole Hwy. From the parking lot look across the road and slightly back towards Hanauma Bay. You will see a guardrail where the trail starts. It’s rocky and best for adults. I’ve seen people taking kids up but it has a lot of loose rocks and it’s easy to slip. Take your time and be cautious. Just a simple warning as it’s not a very dangerous trail if you are careful. This day my Bella took me on the jaunt. The trail can be very hard to see but the way up is obvious.

Bella on the rocks
It’s a nice hike
Looking back towards Hanuma Bay
Almost to the top by the main trail where the tram tracks end.
The Arch

Take some water.  Even though it’s an easy and quick hike, it gets hot.  Make sure you have your camera ready.

At the summit
Bella made easy work of this trail.
Loved the rock out croppings
IMG_4740 - Copy
Great views


Running back down. It’s steep.

This hike is a short one that takes only about and hour and half but it’s very scenic.  Almost every rock face has a safer trail around the drop offs. Have fun.

Hike on.

Waimea Canyon and Kokee Trails on Kauai

Yes Bella knows what I like.  My early Christmas present is proof positive.  How about a day trip to Kauai to run trails in Waimea Canyon!  Awesome!!

We flew over at 8 am and drove straight to Waimea Canyon.  I had been to Kauai several times but this time was to check off a location I have dreamed of trail running.  Waimea Canyon is Hawaii’s Grand Canyon, and trust me having run a Rim to Rim to Rim day in the real Grand Canyon, I have to say it is just as spectacular.  Smaller but every bit as beautiful, Waimea Canyon is a must see.

Waipo’o Falls from the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout. 800 foot plus waterfall.
Bella looking back to Waipo’o Falls.
Waimea Canyon
At Pu’u Hinahina Lookout.
The trailhead at Pu’u Hinahina.

We set out at the Pu’u Hinahina trailhead and decided to run the Canyon Trail first.  The Waimea Canyon Trail will take you to Waipo’o Falls and then far beyond if you find the trail on the far side below the falls.  Stop at Waipo’o Falls and swim in the frigid waters of the pool.  It’s shallow and not a pool to jump or dive in.  I walked across the pool to the falls on the top.  I would estimate it to be only 4-5 deep.

The small upper falls on Waipo’o Falls.
Running the Waimea Canyon Trail about 1 mile in.
Cool rocks on the trail.
Loved the views on the rim about 1/4 mile from Waipo’o Falls.
Bella on my favorite rock.
Bella at the small pool and falls at the top of Waipo’o Falls.

Just below this small pool is the actual falls.  Take great caution as you hike to the main falls just below.  The first step of the the Waipo’o Falls is about 150 feet and very dangerous.  The second would be very nice to see but it’s not possible to safely access the main falls.  They drop about 700-800 feet and strong winds whip the face of the falls.  Don’t even consider trying to find a way down.  A grave marker is in place where someone fell before.  At the first step you can see where the main falls goes over the cliff.  From the other side other canyon you can see the wind actually push the water back up the face of the falls.

Waipo’o from a small rock face at the first level of the main falls.

From here we went upstream about 50 yards and crossed the stream to get back on the less used trail that follows the canyon rim.  It is a rollercoaster but beautiful.  We hiked for about 1.5 miles and hit a marked junction that lead back to the main  road.

The junction back to the main road.
The ginger was fragrant.w

A couple of small and less used trails led us to the dirt roads leading to many of the cabins around Kokee . We turned left on the road and popped out on the hardtop road  at about mile 16.  From here we ran back to the car. 3 miles of road running was actually nice for the legs. Make sure you visit if you go to Kauai.

Hike on!

Pupukea to Laie via the Koolau Summit

This was probably the easiest segment of our Koolau Summit journey.  No spines, no rock climbing; just a lot of mud and fun.  We parked by the Boy Scout Camp on Pupukea Rd. and hiked the 3/4 miles to the nice paved road.  Stay on the road for about 1 1/2 miles and you will see a guardrail on the right hand side that has an old dirt road and trail headed up to the summit.  Take this and stay on it for hours.  One scenic turn is on the way about 1/2 mile or more up the trail and then no real turns until you hit Malaekahana Trail.  Pass this and head East until you hit the Laie sign.  From there it’s a simple run to the falls and Laie Park.

The military road to Kahuku from Pupukea
View along the way from the scenic vista.
Lookout intersection. It’s very clear where to go. the lookout is only about 1/4 mile up.
Lookout intersection

At the intersection follow the trail to the Koolau Summit and you can’t get lost.  You just follow and follow and follow until you think you must have gone too far.  Always bear to the right if feeder trails appear.  Just don’t drop off the summit on one of the pig trails headed off the summit.  It’s more of a plateau up here than a spine or summit.  I thought we must have passed the trail as you see Laie on the left and it looks like you have passed it before you hit a sign marking the way down.

Pink ribbons are in place along the trail. We left many new markers as well.
Wind farms
Cigar tradition.
I did mention the mud. It is muddy on the entire trail.


Look for this sign when you think you passed Laie.

The Laie sign will appear on the turn where the trail heads back up.  Don’t miss It or you could hike all the way to the Poamoho Trail.  Turn left and downhill from here.  It’s a fun and runnable trail all the way to Laie. Don’t miss the falls as they are a very quick  left about 1 mile down the trail.  You can’t the falls as a sign is obvious.

Sign for the falls.
Laie Falls. Great swimming hole.

From the falls just head down hill and stay on the trail and road until you hit the main farm road.  Take a right and run all the way to the Laie fields.  Have your exit vehicle staged here.  If you were to go left when you hit the main farm road you could make it to Malaekahana Falls.  It’s a tough  uphill grind and best for another hike.  The run took 6 1/2 hours so plan for 9 or more hours if slow hiking.

Hike on!

Waimano Trail

Let me start with saying crossing Hawaii’s mountain streams in heavy rains is a foolish thing to do.  Now let me admit to being foolish on many occasions.  This being one of those days.  We set out on a very rainy day with the intent of doing Waimano to Manana and back to the car by running Komo Mai Dr.  We did do this another day a couple weeks later, but for this day……well, things went wrong.

The old irrigation ditch tunnels run along the early parts of the trail. Started fairly dry; key word was started.

We brought along a new runner that while the perfect fit for us intellectually, he was a little undertrained..  Jim is a former Navy Sub Captain who will never admit pain or defeat until it’s a bit too late.  This was the case today.  Besides being a bit undertrained, he found great pleasure in tormenting our youngest runner.  Not that that’s bad;  our youngest runner is French and my team banker.  Both of these classifications mean he should be abused.  The issue was that he, being 15-30 years younger than anyone else, is the fastest runner on short runs.   While Jim told great jokes about the French Navy consisting of rubber duckies in bath tubs, he hardly noticed the pace kept increasing as did the incline.  By the time we reached the picnic table 2 miles in, he was beat down.  At this point I’ll also admit we crossed paths with some pig hunters who offered a word of caution on the creek we would cross in about 1/2 mile.  They respectfully suggested we not cross it in flood stage.  I think their words were, ” Are you stupid….you’ll get killed”.  Which our dense brains took to mean that it sounded like a glorious idea.  When we hit the creek it was rolling about waist deep.  So being older and wiser; we sent Frenchie with a rope to cross and tie a safety line.  Makes perfect sense right!

Bob running the trail.
Here is where we decided it might be dangerous. So we sent Frenchie.
The rope was a good idea as Bob did fall and need the rope.

The banter continued until Jim started to feel some chest pain.  Now we may joke around but this was taken seriously and we  turned around.  1 mile from the summit we called the run and eased out.  To make matters worse Frenchie had an emergency  at home and had to double time it out.  He and I flew down the trail for a mile when I realized I had Jim’s phone.  Dang it, I had to run back and give Jim the phone. Now we did an all out sprint to get Marc home. Just a note.  When you get back to the Waimano Valley intersection, know it is NOT a short cut.  Oops.  We did all get out safely.  The lesson is never hike alone, take a phone, and be in the proper condition to hang with the group.

Hike On!

Likeke Falls and then Pali Puka Hikes

Bella and I did two great hikes in one day.  We started at Hoomaluhia and ran the park then over to the old Pali to hit Likeke Falls.  Then we had lunch and went to the Pali Puka.  Great day!

Likeke Falls under the Pali Hwy
Bella and I at Likeke Falls.
Loved the yellow ginger.
Awesome. Cold water.

The hike was muddy but quite easy.  Hoomauhia was harder than the trail.  We loved the hike in.  Seemed like we were on the wrong trail but the falls were there.  This is a safe and nice family hike.

Lunch at the Kalapawai Café. I like the atmosphere and the food is ok. Every second Sunday they do a free wine tasting. You should give it a try.

Then it was back to the car and a drive and off to the Pali Puka.  Park at the Pali Lookout and look for hole in the rock wall by the bamboo at he far end of the bus parking area.  Be careful on this hike. It has sheer drops and is not for kids.

Pali Lookout
Looking back at the Pali Lookout from the Pali Puka Trail
It’s a sheer drop here
The Puka.
Pali Notches with Bella.

Take caution on this hike.  Go slow and use the brush to be safe.

Hike on