Monday, August 17, 2009

Aiea Valley Loop Trail

Trail: Aiea Valley Loop Trail
Distance: 4.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Hiking time: 2 hours
Area: Aiea Heights
Trailhead: End of Aiea Heights Dr inside of Keaiwa Heiau Recreation Area
There are two directions you can take. The lower one is more of a climb.
Directions (via bus): Take the 11 from Alapae Transit stop near the west end of Kapiolani Blvd. and it will take you to Aiea Heights Dr. Get off right before it turns off the road (or after like me). The Alapei transit stop can be reached by multiple bus routes. Coming from Waikiki, you can take the 2, 13, or B City Express get off at Kalakaua Ave and Kapiolani Blvd, and hop on to the 3, 9, or A city express to get there. There are probably alternate routes as well.
Sights: Views into neighboring valleys and ridges. Spots overlooking

First off, new toy, Garmin 76s cx handheld GPS!! It's a bit bigger than I expected but great for gathering data. Has an active tracker and provides me with coordinates, elevation, distance, mph (moving average and overall average), and more. I can save all the data to an microSD card and the device connects to computer via USB cable. The software, Mapwource allows me to track the path and easily view an elevation profile. No specific function to extract the images. Just had to print screen and paste to paint. It's relatively easy to use though I'm sure there is a lot to learn. I've only had for two days. You can set and/or upload waypoints, routes, maps. The navigation is not so smooth but good for a handheld. Excellent battery life off 2 AA batteries.
I was possibly going to use an iPhone for the same purpose unfortunately the battery life was a big factor. After reading many reviews, one of the better altimeter applications will drain your battery in 4-5 hours.

This hike is pretty straightforward. It's not difficult at all and has gently rolling climbs and descents. It's not as long as I thought it would be. One of the guides said 5 miles and the trail head says 4 1/2 miles but my GPS only tracked 4.1. I started on the lower entrance which is marked as Keaiwa Heiau Loop Trail. I would recommend it for any beginner hikers who want a long stroll. Not recommended for your first hike although it isn't too tough. It's just 4 miles so you may want to start on something shorter.

The trail is clear and you don't need a guide to get through the loop. There were certain moments where the path seemed to split. If you just follow the more worn path, you'll stay on track. In most of the splits, it's just to get to a higher point for a better view.

It starts off with a slight descent through some narrow paths. I always enjoy these types of terrains. As you slowly climb to the other end, you'll find fallen trees in your path that I ducked under or climbed over. This was very common along the entire trail and you some of them are actually completely cut for you (should have grabbed a pic). Others have a wedge cut out to help you step over. A majority of the trail hugged the inner valley but there were a number of opportunities to grab a view of the south ocean and Kalihi valley. There were some paths off the trail Great sights of the Likelike Highway. Of course, fantastic views of the neighboring ridges. There weren't too many distinct plants but then again I'm not familiar with them in general. It's just something that doesn't catch my eye.

Likelike Highway through Kalihi Valley

Looking back towards to Aiea area (I think).

On the way back towards the beginning of the upper entrance there was an out of place flower reaf. I also noticed on my way back through the recreation area 3 stray cats. They looked like house cats but... eh... well I'm not sure.

View from the road on the way back.

Overall, the hike was casual. The most tiring part was getting to and from the trail head. The bus drops you off 2 miles from the trail head. I ended up walking more on the road then I did on the trail. It wasn't so bad though.

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