Thursday, January 1, 2009

David Wu's Hiking Guide on Oahu, Hawaii

So since I've been hiking so much and plan on going many more by the end of the year, I decided to provide some basic information about hiking on Oahu in Hawaii.

First off, some background. I'm 27 (2009) and have not hiked until I got to this island back in December of 2008. So I'm still a novice and am learning slowly. I'm not overly athletic or in the best shape but hopefully that will change with these hikes. I'm stating so you can get an idea of my perspective. I am however adventurous, don't mind taking risks, a bit reckless, and love to explore. That's my real drive for doing all this.

Completed Hikes - The earlier ones do not have any technical information or any guidance I will be providing it in the future when I return to gather the data.
  1. Diamond Head - Easy
  2. Manoa Falls Trail - second blog with additional pictures - Easy
  3. Maunawili Fals Trail to Maunawili Waterfall (return trip on 08/29/09) - Easy
  4. Hawaii Loa Ridge - Medium difficulty - Done with the Sierra Club - A nice but strenuous hike along a ridge to a Summit overlooking Waimanalo. Breathtaking view but tough ascent (at least for me with my novice experience)
  5. Tantalus (1st variation) - 07/26/09 - Intermediate due to the length - Wandering around Makiki.
  6. Nuuanu to Manoa Falls starting at Judd Memorial Trail - An interesting hike that started late evening into the night.
  7. Manana Trail to Waimano Falls - 08/09/09 - Relatively easy trail but a sudden descent to the falls. Gotta love waterfalls.
  8. Aiea Valley Loop Trail - 08/16/09 - An easy 4-5 mile loop.
  9. Likeke Trail (one way, alternate route) - 08/22/09 - Easy/Intermediate
  10. Mt Olympus (incomplete) - 08/23/09 - St Louis Heights area - no trail info - pics only
  11. Waimae Falls Park - 08/30/09 - Easy stroll in a park to tourist falls
  12. Kahana Valley - 09/05/09 - Nakoa Trail and additional loop - follows Kahana Stream. Easy/Intermediate - The terrain isn't difficult but its like 6 miles. Easy to get lost.
  13. Koko Head Trail (Short Variation) - 09/06/09 - Nice trail. Some decent climbs but still easy. Great views of the ocean. NEWER UPDATED POST ON ENTRY 27. SEE BELOW.
  14. Koko Crater Stairs - 09/07/09 - Easy/Intermediate - It's short and a straight climb. 1048 steps.
  15. Maunawili Trail - 09/12/09 - Pali toWaimanalo - Easy terrain but lengthy 9+ miles. Not much too see.
  16. Mt. Olympus from Manoa Valley ending in St. Louis Heights - 09/13/09 - 5.3 miles, lots of climbing, intense! Intermediate but tough for a novice hiker.
  17. Laie Falls Trail - 09/27/09 - 8 miles round trip. Easy/intermediate gradual climb but long. Decent falls along the way. Didn't go to the end of the trail though.
  18. Sacred Falls Trail - 10/10/09 - 4.5 miles round trip. One of the nicer falls on the island. Park is closed due to tragic rock slide in 1999.
  19. Search for Mo'ole Ditch - 10/17/09 - Me in a failed attempt to search for Mo'ole Ditch and stream - getting lost in the woods
  20. Kalauao Trail to falls - 10/18/09 - Short hike about 4 miles round trip. Relatively easy. There is a short steep descent to the stream which is a bit tough. Reminds me of Waimano Falls hike 
  21. Kaena Point -  10/23/09 - A beautiful long up along the Leeward coast to the western most point on the island. A bit more than 5 miles round trip. Easy trail but no shade and long commute.
  22. Makapuu Lighthouse Trail - 11/07/09 - Easy. Casual mostly paved trail along the Eastern most point of Oahu. Nice scenic views. Popular and crowded hike.
  23. Olamana Trail (to the first peak) - 11/15/09 - This is a popular hike but not an easy one. It's relatively steep compared to the past hikes I've done with numerous sections requiring the aid of rope. Many sources rate it between intermediate and difficult. If you want a challenge try going to the third peak!
  24. Waiomao Stream Trail / Waiomao Falls Trail - 11/22/09 - 3 beautiful waterfalls in one hike! Off the beaten path hike. Not too difficult but not recommended for beginners. Less than 4 miles in Palolo Valley. This trail will take you to Ka'au Crater if you continue but I stopped after the 3rd falls.  
  25. Maakua Ridge Trail / Papali Loop Trail - 11/29/09 - An easy loop trail on the Northen Windward side of Oahu. Short and quick with some nice views. 
  26. Maakua Gulch Trail - 11/29/09 - An intermediate hike that follows a gulch to a small falls and swimming hole. Very interesting, very secluded... very narrow. A majority of the trail is along a dry river bed and along the actual stream. About 6-7 miles round trip.
  27. Koko Head Trail - Full Loop 12/05/09 - Return to Hanauma Bay to hike the full loop of this moderately easy trail. About 3.3 miles with some climbs and descents along the east side of Oahu.
  28. Lanikai Pillboxes / Kaiwa Trail - 12/24/09 - A short, simple hike to some beautiful views of the Windward Coast, overlooking Lanikai.
  29. Kauai, Hawaii - Nou'nou Trail East - 01/01/10 - A nice warm up hike full of switchbacks on the island of Kauai. It overlooks the Eastern coast.
  30. Kauai, Hawaii - Hanakapiai Falls - 01/03/10 - An 8 mile round trip, starting at the beginning of the Na Pali Coast hike, at the Northern end of Kauai. Spectacular views of the coast, beautiful gigantic falls.
Farewell Hawaii. I'll continue the list when I return. I wish every hiker the best on Oahu.

    So I'll be providing some basic guidelines about hiking on Oahu. I tend to break them though but then again, I haven't done any really tough trails yet.


    • Never hike alone. In the worst case scenario (you get injured), you'll be stuck.Your phone doesn't necessarily work in all areas. There are so good groups to hike with Sierra Club and Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club
    • Never hike at night. Well this is obvious. It's easy to get lost. Unless you're prepared (mentally and physically) to spend the night in the woods. I've done this once so far. It was interesting but it was also a relatively easy hike.
    • Don't go off trail. I say this to prevent erosion and destruction of Hawaii's environment.
    • Check the weather. As perfect as Hawaii's weather is, always good to check. Also the previous day's weather will affect the terrain. Sliding down on mud is fun as long as you can stop but you have to be in the mood for it.
    • Plan your route. It's better to do so but you can always just get a hiking book and show up at the trail head. That's my style. I actually enjoy being lost and finding my way. I haven't been on unmarked trails so it's all good.

    Gear: Minimize the amount of gear you'll be using. Little by little it adds up. Unfortunately for me, I am often busing it to the trail head, so I have to carry everything I need for the hike and also for the trip to and back.
    • Bring water and a snack. Water by itself is good but your body needs more. Some vitamins, minerals, and calories will help. Depending on the length of the hike, bring more water. The longest I've done is an eight mile hike (excluding my 3 day trek). 1 full liter was enough. I had more water at the trail head after where there was a fountain. Couple of granola bars or something like that is usually sufficient.
    • Rain gear: Something like a poncho. Umbrella is pretty useless if it rains hard and annoying to hike with. I suppose its still better than nothing.
    • First aid equipment. Debatable. Depends on length and difficulty of hike. Not needed for touristy or crowded hikes. I have never needed it so far.
    • Suntan lotion: self explanatory
    • Bug Repellent: I've never used it but I can see how it can be handy. I don't think you'll need it for ridge hikes. Definitely for any valley or waterfall hikes.
    • Flashlight (and extra batteries): Something light and for later afternoon hikes, long hikes or night hikes. No need for early day hikes.
    • Shoes: I've been using my Merrell walking shoes which have been fine. Though hiking boots are ideal for the steeper hikes. Plan on getting them dirty and possibly water logged. Some hikes on the island can be done in slippers... like Diamond Head and Monoa Falls Trail. Even if you have boots or slippers, bring a pair of slippers for after the hike. It's such a relief after.
    • Extra shirt and/or pants: Ideally, leave them in the car. Otherwise you may have to hike with them. I find that a fresh t shirt is nice after the hike. Just like the slippers.
    • Phone: Well it doesn't work everywhere but still better to have.

    Additional resources
    Some good websites for hiking on Oahu, Hawaii.

    Official Hawaii site - Na Ala Hele - Hawaii Trail System & Access
    Sierra Club - Organized hiking group with weekly outings

    Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club - Organized hiking group with weekly outings

    Hawaii Waterfall Hikes on the Island of Oahu - List of 20 cascades on Oahu
    Waterfalls on Oahu - List of 5 waterfalls. Just additional information.
    Frank's Hawaii Hiking - Someone's personal page, giving some more information about various trails. Good for gauging the elevation gains.

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