Hau'ula Uka Ridge - February 15, 2009

It was a really nice day for a hike so I headed solo to Hau'ula to attempt a hike I've been wanting to do for quite some time now. Hau'ula Uka Ridge starts at the apex of the Hau'ula Loop state trail. Hau'ula Loop can be hiked either way: counter-clockwise or clockwise. Today I opted for the clockwise direction. The loop trail is a great hike for beginners. Depending on how much time is spent taking in the views at the top, the loop trail can be completed in less than an hour-and-a-half. It is a great trail for beginners, and it is, in fact, the first trail I ever hiked. For a longer outing, the Hau'ula Uka Ridge junction would be a better and easily accessible option. At the Kaipapa'u Gulch overlook, there is an obvious trail to the left; this trail is the lesser used Hau'ula Uku Ridge trail.

Two days ago the National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for the island of Oahu. Strong easterly tradewinds were on tap for this weekend, and the winds were a blessing for today's hike. I woke to clear blue skies and an orange sun. I arrived at the Hau'ula Loop trailhead around 9am. It took me about tweny minutes to reach the top of Hau'ula Loop. After a short rest, I grabbed my camera and headed upridge.

Initially, the trail was in good shape. The ridge ascent was gradual, passing paper bark trees, strawberry guava trees, ironwoods, and uluhe ferns, with the cool breeze keeping my sweat at bay. But as I climbed higher and trekked deeper, I could see that the trail had not been cleared for quite some time. Sections of the trail were choked with uluhe ferns. The trail was there, but it was hard to follow. Plus, the trail was muddy from the recent rains, so the going was slow and slippery.

The ridge is awesome: not narrow, not steep (for as far as I went), and the scenery is lush and green. However, the overgrown state of the trail hindered me from pushing further. I found myself slogging through shoulder-high uluhe ferns, and from my turnaround point, advancement beyond where I was looked painful considering how much scratches on my legs I had endured courtesy of the previous stretches of uluhe. I headed back down at my turnaround point at 10:45am.

If the Hawaiian Trail Mountain Club schedules a trail clearing for Hau'ula Uka Ridge in the future, I'll be sure to try the trail again. For now, the ridge will be an empty check box on my hike list. I estimate I went about one-third of a mile upridge until I turned around. I came back down Hau'ula Loop, passing the Cook pines section, and passing a couple junctions along the way. I took a junction leading makai (ocean) and ended at a lookout over Hau'ula town with Laie Point and Goat Island in the distance. After a brief rest, I headed back, only to find another junction that jolted my curiousity. This trail also headed makai, but it was going steeply downhill. After a while the trail disappeared, so I had to strenuously backtrack uphill. I eventually reached the true Hau'ula Loop trail and reached my car at 11:40am.

Hau'ula Uka Ridge trailhead at the top of the Hau'ula Loop trail.

The trail eventually was overgrown with uluhe ferns.

Not sure if the peak in the distance was my destination, but the quality of the trail hindered me from even going that far.

Looking back towards the ocean.

Going uphill in uluhe.

And here's where I turned around. Beyond this point I could see that the trail was just overloaded with vegetation. Got a weed whacker?

Here's the view looking back at my turnaround point, the trail in the shadow.