Archives for posts with tag: hiking oahu



Hike Difficulty (Overall) : Intermediate – This cardio workout is a three-mile hike to the summit, six-mile total to head back. Have plenty of water on you and know that high humidity, rain, and muddy conditions are common in the winter months (November – April).Summer brings high humidity and intense heat often in excess of 85 degrees so shade and cover is essential to avoid early exhaustion.

Accessibility: Gated Community with Limited (10 parking spaces)Time to Complete: About 4 hours for larger groups, slower hikers.

Suitability for Kids/Dogs: Yes, but note that the valley is a hunting ground, so be warned of hunters and their canines. Hunting dogs are vicious and can often attack anything due to poor hunting practices of the island. Most will never experience an encounter.

Waialae Iki View from Wiliwilinui

Directions: Heading from Town, Take H-1 East until it becomes Kalanianaole Highway.  Pass two lights (Ainakoa and  Kalaniki St’s), then left on the third. This will be Laukahi St. Head straight up the mountain until you get to the Waialae Iki 5 Community entrance and gatehouse. This private community accommodates hikers through controlled access. The gatehouse requires ID (state, driver’s license, or military ID) from which you will be allowed a parking pass up top. From there, they provide directions, but it is simply straight up the road, then turn left and continue up at the T-section to the end of Okoa St. Park in the shaded areas at the trail entrance or use overflow on a paved lot if you’d rather not risk mud. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR.


After a little over a mile trek, you will exit an access road of mud and gravel.  The trailhead will be on the right following a water tank. Begin under shade of thin koa trees and strawberry guava. Some larger non-indigenous pines will also grace your skyward gaze, as well as some ironwood trees. The later portions of the hike beyond a notable checkpoint swing will be blanketed and spiky uluhe. Wear something to cover your legs unless you want to get scratched. Ferns and  steep, open inclines and recycled plastic staircases have been built along the ridge climb up to ease your effort, but this is sometimes daunting due to the steep angles and heat.


Our group headed up the road to the trailhead.

You will continue up the ridge until you reach the electric power station, a total gain of around 1300 feet in a little under two hours. From the station, there is another summit offering a beautiful eyeful of the eastern shores, iconic Olomana peaks, and the Mokapu islet. Reference Na Ala Hele’s link here for more info:






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Pali Notches from Aiea Falls

As most of these stories pour from internet jargon and folklore spurred from talking story among Hawaiians and later shared in written form, I do not support or claim proof of any of these stories. But I did hear that a cousin of mine once had the experience of being a part of this…

King Kamehameha I’s death led to one of the greater Hawaiian mysteries of the islands. Many believed that when King Kamehameha died on May 8th 1819, his closest advisor hid the bones in a sacred ceremony and attempted to maintain the secrecy and preservation of the bones of his leader. In the case of Kamehameha’s death, Chief Ulumaheihei (called Hoapili by the King) went into the mountains and placed the bones somewhere in either a cave on the Big Island or were moved to  the Nuuanu Mausoleum with the other leaders of the time. This hiding of the bones was meant as a way to preserve the spiritual transition to his place with the aumakua, or gods. Should they ever be found or disturbed, the spiritual and cultural ramifications brought on by the Hawaiian people would be severe. The mountains are also said to hold massive chambers connecting various tunnels through which many burial sites and ceremonial grounds reside.

Roadside Lookout from Old Pali viewing New Pali Hwy

“According to legend, the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele and the demigod Kamapua‘a (a half-man-half-pig) had a turbulent relationship, and the two agreed not to visit each other. If one takes pork over the Pali, the legend goes, one is symbolically taking a piece of Kamapua‘a from one side to the other, and it is said that Pele would stop that from happening. (wikipedia)”

Rumors arise of a figure of a warrior in the rearview, car troubles, engines dying, and sputtering and smoke from the engine for those who did break the kapu. It is recommended if you must carry the pig meat across, then do so in ti leaf for protection to feign off Pele’s power.

View of eastern side

Old Pali Overlooking New Pali Hwy

Stories tell of white ladies, common urban legends told on the mainland. The tales focus on the stories of multiple car accidents occurring due to a mysterious white lady walking along the road or asking for a ride. The hitchhiker wore white pareau and was wearing a beautiful haku leipo’o (braided head lei) of lehua blossom and ama’ufern. She often travels with a white dog, one of the guardians of the afterlife, and many speculate she is actually Pele. Drivers would be caught off guard and brake to a halt though no reports of death from this curse, only disappearances. It is thought that you should always ask for the help of Pele, or face her wrath.

Into the Forests and Golf Courses Below

Maunawili Demo Ditch Trail Marker

View of the Pali Puka from Old Pali Hwy Hike

Night marchers, huaka’i po, are deemed as the royal warriors, ali’i of the islands. In the ancient Hawaiian days, crossing the path of a Hawaiian procession or falling into the shadow of such a powerful warrior leader would mean instant death by the guard. Stories say of drums beating and fire on the mountains signalling the descent of the marchers down and through the valleys of Manoa, Pali, Moanalua and down to Wahiawa where the ali’i were born and imbued with their blessings. The pathways pose risk to the commoner,  maka’aina, who fall prey to the curse of coming across one of these processions. Being touched by the royal warriors would range from the capture and tormenting of your soul, to vanishing, to being forced to join the procession until the end of time. Avoiding such a fate is difficult as stories speak of a voucher in the ranks usually of your bloodline calling out in an effort to save your soul. Another tip if you aren’t of Hawaiian blood is to lay flat and stay face down on the trail until they have all passed as not to risk viewing them and being taken. Other renditions mention stripping down as an extra step, so I will be watching for those naked hikers laying down in the mud from hearing the beating drums of the Hawaiian kings of old.

Nuuanu Pali Cliffs Make for Some Shady Adventures

Entrance to Old Pali Hwy, right of the Lookout access.

At the Pali lie two stones of Akua-wahines, powerful chieftains and goddesses of the island, believed to  be dragon ladies. These dragon ladies, or mo’o,  were rumored to be blessed and gifted by the townsfolk as safe passage out of Nuuanu Valley. Counts of written documents dated back to 1825 mention the donations necessary to make the transition from the southern shore to east Oahu and back. These dragon ladies would manifest near the stones believed to be at one of the waterfalls in the valley (Alapena, Kapena, or Likeke being a few visited). Giant tangled hau trees would surround the spot. An excerpt of passage:

“The long stone is on the seaward side, and this is the Mo‘o woman, Hauola; and the other, Hapu‘u. The leaves of ferns cover Hauola, being laid on that stone. On the other stone, Hapu‘u, are lehua flowers. These are kupuas.’ (Huaka‘i Pokole, Koolau)

As each person passed, a signage was made to show respect of the stones draped in white cloth. Not acknowledging these deities could result in someone falling off a cliff, or simply vanishing in the most haunted spot on the island.

Waimea is said to hold such a water spirit who is known to sunbathe along smooth rocks in Waimea Valley before bestowing her gifts to those who come seeking her blessings.

East View from Pali

Pali Notches from Aiea Falls

Enjoy your hikes on and around the Haunted Pali Hwy. 

Not far from the iconic University of Hawaii and Downtown Honolulu lies the tropical jungles and lush vegetation of Manoa Valley, a paradise of forest and falls that pulls at the average adventurer to follow its course and leads many to explore more of this great island. Due to its popularity as the film locations for such blockbusters as Jurassic Park and LOST,  as well as aid from the Japanese tourism industry, boosted this site to most visited trail by more people than anywhere else on Oahu. How does one maintain a highly-visited 0.9-mile trail in the middle of the forest and its 180-ft waterfall?

Manoa Falls From A Distance

Manoa Falls From A Distance

Restoration efforts include University of Hawaii’s Lyon Arboretum reforestation projects high above to Pauoa Flats and the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter’s Restore Manoa Project utilizing various rock laying techniques to filter the seasonal rains across the trails and not corroding this beautiful place with its high traffic. Sugar and bamboo cane grows full and large in the back of the valley as part of a 1940’s experiment to introduce a plantation and fields for expanding crops. Plant life remains diverse among the farther reaches for the resolution of the plantation and introduction of the University of Hawaii botanical influences to the valley. While on the top of flora worth mentioning is the large banyan tree in the parking lot and its legend as a paranormal connection to Hawaii’s Night Marchers, a group of dead warriors who bring bad omen to those who come face-to-face with them. Best to play dead as the story goes or else become one.

Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls

Seasons are important to Hawaii amidst criticism that we on Hawaii only have the year-long summer. Temperatures range from 68 in the winter to 87 and above during hot summer months. Rainfall is a necessity to the tropical rain forests and the trade winds will bring an abundance each year listing a 300 inches over one season in Oahu’s Kahana Valley, a mere ten miles away. Manoa Falls in the winter months find this trail bathed in pools of red mud, filled with mosquitos, and flooded with rivers at full strength. Summer months give way to dry mud paths and worn rock surfaces making navigating the trail easy on pets, kids, and the elderly. Be mindful as a quick storm can give way to those dangerous trail conditions mentioned above.

Barefoot Hikers assembled right inside the Manoa Falls Park fence at the end of the Manoa service road.

Barefoot Hikers assembled right inside the Manoa Falls Park fence at the end of the Manoa service road.

So where do I begin my adventure, you ask? Manoa Falls is located  on Manoa Road at 3131 Manoa Rd. This location is at the very back of the valley. Located at the entrance is a parking spot charging upwards of five dollars for a single teenage or college-aged student to act as security guard and watching the area. This is an option due to high theft at a lot of Hawaiian tourist spots; this being no exception. The other arrangement is to park in the lower neighborhood and walk the half-mile to the parking lot and another quarter mile up the fire lane service road to the fenced entrance to the park. There is no fee to hike. More directions can be found at this site. As always mentioned on these blogs, DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR.

This hike will take roughly an hour in, one hour back. Humidity and wet conditions could pose breathing difficulty as well as pollen. High pollen seasons include March through November on the island. Shoes are encouraged.  Have fun and don’t forget to share your adventure with all of us!

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