Hiking the Hawaiian Islands  by Suzanne Swedo

Hiking the Hawaiian Islands Guide Book

by Suzanne Swedo (Falcon Guides)
Hiking the Hawaiian Islands  by Suzanne Swedo
The Hawaiian islands offer more than high-end resorts, luaus, and hula dancers. This state's vast reaches of undeveloped land are ripe for outdoor experiences, from seaside strolls to more challenging adventures along rugged mountains, past waterfalls and volcanoes, and even through deserts and swamps. Describing fifteen to twenty hikes on each of the four main islands, this guidebook covers the best of the best, with a range of hikes to suit all tastes and hiking abilities.

© 2009 Suzanne Swedo /Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking the Hawaiian Islands" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 72.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 72.

This relatively level loop just above Honolulu is high enough into the foothills of the Ko’olau Mountains to feel wild and is a great favorite with both locals and visitors. In fact, it can be crowded on weekends. The route offers some interesting views and a variety of tropical trees and flowers. Like most of the trails on the (geologically) older islands, this one can be muddy and slippery when wet. The trailhead has water, toilets, picnic facilities, and a heiau to visit as an added bonus. You can hike this trail in either direction, but most people prefer to start at the upper end and wind up at the lower, so that is how it is described here.
Aiea, HI - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 4.7
If Manoa Falls isn’t enough of a hike for you, you can continue farther along the edge of Manoa Valley to the Nu’uanu Overlook for fabulous views as far as Diamond Head in one direction and Kailua in the other. This trail also connects with the Pauoa Flats Trail, linking to more of the wonderful Honolulu Mauka Trail System and any number of hike and trail combinations. Beware of rocks, mud puddles, and slippery tree roots.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This is an easy stroll along a paved, winding path through a garden of showy tropical blossoms, bamboo groves, and along a pretty stream to an overlook of spectacular Akaka Falls, over 442 feet high. The walk begins at a gap in a low stone wall, where you begin to descend an asphalt stairway to a sign that recommends you walk the trail counterclockwise, beginning to the right. The first waterfall you see across the valley to the north is Kahuna Falls, an extra attraction on this hike. It’s almost as high as Akaka Falls, but is tucked back into a notch in the cliff, and parts of it are obscured by vegetation, so you don’t get as clear a view as you would like.
Honomu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
One of the most spectacular views of the Na Pali Coast from above lies at the end of this upside-down hike. It was once a nature trail with signposts corresponding to descriptions in a guidebook published by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, but the guide is no longer available and most of the signposts are gone. This is an easy stroll when the trail is dry, more challenging when wet. It is also one leg of a popular 9-mile semi loop connecting the Nu'alolo Cliff Trail with the Nu'alolo Trail. If it is raining hard, chose another hike. The path is steep and slippery and dangerous, and there won't be views anyway.
Waimea, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.2
This is surely among the most exciting hikes in Koke’e State Park, offering heart-stopping views into Waimea Canyon as well as a visit to a waterfall flowing from a beautiful little pool surrounded by tropical vegetation. Most hikers walk down to the falls and pool and back up again the same way. On this hike you return via the Black Pipe Trail, making a slightly longer trip and allowing a greater variety of scenery and more solitude. You also can continue on to the end of the Canyon Trail and the Kumuwela Lookout, where you can connect with any number of other trails in the park. But this loop gives you the most scenery and variety for the least effort.
Waimea, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
The name is Le’ahi to Hawaiians. This is the most famous landmark in all Hawai’i, the classic hike everybody must do when they come to O’ahu. Wilderness it is not. From opening to closing a steady stream of hikers of all ages, sizes, and states of physical fitness (or lack thereof) puffs up and down the steps. For many locals, it’s a popular conditioning run (yes, run!). The view from the top is superb in all directions, as you would expect. The hike is well described in the brochure you receive at the kiosk as you enter. The maps are detailed, easy to follow, and the accompanying information is interesting and entertaining. In a nutshell, however, you begin along a flat concrete walkway that gradually begins to gain elevation. The concrete ends and a trail with handrails begins zigzagging more steeply uphill.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
This one of the two most popular routes into Haleakala Crater. You can make a rugged in-and-out day hike of it or, even better, spend the night at Holua Cabin or camp in the campground. You can also enter the crater at this trailhead and exit via the othe
Pukalani, HI - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 7.2
This very popular hike gives you a 2-mile sample of the Kalalau Trail along the famous Na Pali Coast. The entire Kalalau Trail continues for another 9 challenging miles to its end at Kalalau Beach, but here is an opportunity to experience a bit of the rou
Hanalei, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Fabulous views of Hanalei Bay, the Makaleha Mountains, and, weather permitting, one of the longest waterfalls you’ve ever seen are your rewards for toiling up this muddy and precipitous path. You climb toward the Makaleha Mountains, which culminate in Mount Wai’ale’ale, the wettest place on earth—though it is very unlikely you will see it. Long, long Namolokama Fall is the source of the Wai’oli Stream on the north side of the ridge, and the Hanalei River flows down the other side into the bay. Start at what looks like the continuation of the road below the cemetery, heading eastward. Boards with wire mesh have been installed and grass seed planted to keep the road from washing away and to make hiking easier.
Hanalei, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
There is a lot of tropical fruit to eat in summer along this trail, as well as a great variety of scenery. Best of all, there are no crowds up here on the windward coast, far from busy Honolulu. Walk straight up the road past a gate (the road on your right that curves sharply uphill is a private driveway). At about 0.1 mile is the actual signed trailhead. (You will pass another, unmarked path heading uphill to the right before this, but this is also private property. Stay on the road until you see the trail sign.) The forest floor is carpeted with the unusual laua’e fern, whose fronds are so broad you might not recognize it as a fern until you see the spores on their backs.
Hauula, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.5
At the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden a wondrous array of beautiful growing things from all over the tropical world is packed onto a single hillside above a bay. This is one of the few hikes in this book that ventures into a commercial. The garden path descends through a jungle of what seems to be hundreds of kinds of ginger in every color and size imaginable. Some have flowers as big as your head, some look like sponges, beehives, or torches. Overhead, red lobster claw heliconias dangle in 10-foot swags from banana-like trees.
Papaikou, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
This leg of the journey through Haleakala Crater is probably the most varied and exciting of all. It includes vivid splashes of color at Pele’s Paint Pot, a visit to the Bottomless Pit, and a stroll through a garden of silverswords, the stars of Hawaii’s
Pukalani, HI - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 6.3
Hosmer Grove may be the best place on Maui to see rare native Hawaiian birds with very little effort. You’re likely to spot some interesting species even before you leave the parking lot. Hosmer Grove has a free, first-come, first-served campground with water and toilets nearby. The trail begins at a sign at the low end of the campground where there are interpretive panels about the history of the place and the fate of many of Hawaii’s native species. The grove is planted with trees from all over the world, such as pines, spruces, cedars, and redwoods.
Pukalani, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.6
This hike takes you into the misty green forest at the western end of the island to one of Maui’s most famous landmarks. ’Iao Needle is a lava spire thrusting up out of the dense, damp foliage lining the walls of a gorge sacred to native Hawaiians. It is one of the sites where King Kamehameha won a victory on his way to uniting the Hawaiian Islands. This hike is best in the morning, before clouds and rain fill the valley. Be sure to stop at the interpretive panels at the trailhead that explain the geologic and (sometimes bloody) human history of this sacred valley. The path begins at a showy red-orange flowered royal poinciana tree. You can choose any of a series of circular routes. The lowest one, the Lu’au Trail, is planted with species of plants brought to Hawai’i by the early Polynesians, including a terraced taro patch.
Wailuku, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
The trail through this Alice in Wonderland grove, part of Waimea Canyon State Park, has recently been given a thorough renovation, with shiny new signs identifying the plants and adding fascinating bits of lore about each. You don’t need signs to tell you
Waimea, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
This may be the most popular short-hike destination on O’ahu, a place for socializing and swimming as much as communing with nature. Nu’uanu Stream flows along the southwest side of the elongated loop and widens into a pretty ginger-lined pool fed by a 10-foot cascade. The short loop trail is named for Lawrence Judd, who was a governor of Hawai’i in territorial days, and tradition has it that somebody grazed a donkey in the grass near the pool at one time. It is often crowded, especially on weekends, and parking is sometimes a problem. The best time for a hike is early in the morning on a weekday. You can walk directly to the pool, or hike the loop the long way ’round, rewarding yourself with a swim toward the end.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 1
This popular hike in the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline offers some of the best sea views on O’ahu, a photogenic lighthouse, and a special bonus from December through April; migrating humpback whales—lots of them, just off shore. It’s the easternmost point of O’ahu, affording views southwest back to Koko Crater and Koko Head, and northwest along Waimanalo Bay, over several islands protected as sanctuaries for sea birds. The dramatic spires of the Ko’olau Mountains poke up out of the clouds behind. The walk is sunny and shadeless, but open to the sea breeze. Take water and sunscreen. Take binoculars too, if you have them. Start the gentle climb up a hill covered with koa haole, kiawe (mesquite), and prickly pear cactus, enjoying ever-improving views back toward the rocky coastline toward Koko Head. If you are here between December and April and notice an excited group of people staring out to sea, you can bet you’ll see humpback whales blowing, breaching, and doing whale things.
Honolulu, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
Like the hike to Ka’ena Point from the south, this is an easy walk near a beautiful shoreline with tide pools to explore and endangered species of Hawaiian flowers to examine along the way. From December to May you are almost guaranteed sightings of nesting albatross and migrating humpback whales. You can sometimes spot rare Hawaiian monk seals on the rocks. This northern approach to the point is different from the southern one in that off-road vehicles can make it as far as the boundary of the protected area and have left a multitude of scars on the land. The Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve at the point is still unspoiled and well worth the trip.
Wahiawa, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
Don’t miss this one. It is an easy walk on a stunning shoreline, with possible sightings of nesting albatross, rare monk seals, and humpback whales. There are endangered species of native Hawaiian flowers, tide pools, and blowholes. Your hike begins at the foot of the cliff upon which squats a white object that looks like Paul Bunyan’s golf ball—it’s actually one of the domes of the nearby military satellite tracking station. There is no sign or official trailhead here, just the end of the pavement. The hillside mauka (toward the mountain) is mostly covered with koa haole and other dry scrubby plants. Makai (toward the sea) is one of the most wild and wonderful shorelines ever.
Makaha, HI - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 5
Kalopa State Park is a hidden treasure. Its native forest is a tiny patch of the real Hawai’i that has not been trampled by cattle, plowed under for sugarcane, or bulldozed for development. The showy blossoms of ginger and plumeria that are usually associated with “natural” Hawai’i have actually been brought here from elsewhere as ornamentals. Even the coconuts, breadfruit, and bananas we think of as quintessentially Hawaiian were introduced by the original Polynesian settlers. You can pick up a pamphlet at the trailhead that tells about the loving care and hard work that have gone into maintaining this rare little piece of forest, and you can also borrow a trail guide to help you identify and appreciate the plants. Or you can simply stroll and soak up the beauty and solitude in a bit of Hawai’i not overrun by tourists. The park also hosts a campground, cabins, picnic area, and an arboretum with trees from all over the tropical world.
Honokaa, HI - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.7