Waimano Home Trail is located above the Pearl City / Pearlridge area at the Waimano Home Rd in the Pacific Palisades community. This hike is somewhat challenging in contrast to a lot of the other hikes as it begins on the Manana ridge line and descends steeply into the Waimano Home Valley.
This weekend, the Barefoot Hikers ventured out to explore a part of the Ewa State Preserve in the mountain community of Pacific Palisades. The weather was cloudy with occassional droplets of water striking the windshields of the four vehicles making their way up to the top.
“Was it supposed to rain today?” asked one of the new Barefoot Hikers. ” I don’t feel like getting soaked.” I checked the hour-by-hour Accuweather report on my Android. Sunny skies with a high of 78-81 throughout the next few hours. Hawaii weather; sporadic and unpredictable.
We approached the trailhead as the small precipitation opened up to once again clear skies. We took a left off of Waimano Home Rd in Pearl City onto Komo Mai St. Located on the end of the main Komo Mai St, the trailhead is marked by a sign labeled “Manana Trail” with a gated entrance to a gravel road used by servicemen to repair the telephone lines placed along the preserve. While parking is done along the residence of the community and in a small cul-de-sac, the people have always been friendly to hikers who have parked outside of their homes.
Fun Fact: There are warning signs concerning hunting in the preserve. There is a chance of hearing gun shots while on the hike since the location is open to some seasonal hunting. Staying on the trail is the best way to avoid chance encounters.
The Barefoot Hikers grabbed our gear and headed along the Manana Trail for about a half of a mile. The trail was mostly gravel at this point with small inclines and declines as we wove our way toward the beginning of the Waimano Home portion. The road become hard red dirt and roots and you will reach a hill with a fork. The sign will point two directions: To the left and north is the Koolau Summit Hike, while the intended trail of the Waimano Falls is to the right.
Veering right gives rise to a steep climb then immediately you begin the descent into the Waimano Valley. Cardiac hill is the name of this section with a sharp drop made manageable only by the large number of mountain tree roots who have etched a path down the steep embankment. Be very careful not to pull a muscle or miss your footing; one wrong step and you could plummet quite a ways. Use the trees located along the sides of the trail for support and make your way deep into the foliage below. Remember you will have to climb hand over hanf to return back to the top and will be exhausted after such a feat of strength and endurance.
The next spot of interest will be a small rope to use to work your way down a muddy and steep area. The ten foot drop opens up to a small creek with rocks settled into their aesthetic and picturesque footholds. You will wind and work your way up and around the cliffs with small rock obstacles to climb over and winding, tight tree alcoves to squeeze and qalk through. Their is a rock outcropping about ten minutes in from the creekbed with a beautiful water flow if you catch a nice spring rain. The water drains through the mossy rocks and down into the forest below creating a quiet, gentle place to sit and reflect on the beauty of nature. Continuing on for the remainder of the hike, you will see a steep decline as you approach the bottom of the hike and the top of the falls.
Waimano Home Falls stand about 50 to 60 ft tall. Its top is accessible through a hike to the left of the waterfall giving a view of the top of the valley and a large open area for photos. The bottom portion of the falls has a rope directly at the bottom to crawl down and sit on the sometimes dry rocks below the falls. The weekend we went, the flow was very strong, green and blue water mixed with a milky white wash surging through the opening on the bottom and into a second pool ten to fifteen feet below the first. A local contraption overhangs the falls and you can use it to climb out and fall into the pool, though checking its depth to see how deep the water is would be only common sense. I have been on this hike in the summer months and found the falls so dried up that I was able to climb from the top of the falls to a perch in the middle. Sitting twenty feet up over a barely flooded pool that is normally only knee deep is a humbling experience. The river continues back down and along a rock valley floor with a winding trail to follow back and around back up to the end of the trail.
Waimano Home Falls is roughly a 45-minute hike down and another 1 hour and 15 minutes back. The exposure to sun is minimal, though it is very humid and insects are abundant. Sunscreen and bug spray is recommended. Be mindful of swimming in any water in Hawaii as there is a chance of contracting leptospirosis, a form of lepracy which eats the liver and later skin and muscles. Stagnant and unclean water near areas of high animal traffic like cats and pigs should be avoided or cautiously ignored. Shoes is a must as you will see many flip flops and sandals deserted all along the trail from the strenuous and failed attempt to hike with such primitive attire. Suggestions of snacks and water would be best brought if you have the intention of taking the trash with you once you leave.
Have fun and above all be safe! The Barefoot Hikers had a blast playing under the majesty of the Waimano Home Falls and appreciating the peace of such a beautiful place.