Laie Falls - March 28, 2009

With my vacation dwindling down, I had to get one more hike in before going back work. I had thought of doing a certain ridge hike, but a waterfall hike seemed like a good choice being that my friends Matt and Daniel hadn't been on a waterfall hike with me yet. I followed Stuart Ball's "Hiker's Guide to Oahu," the most informative hiking guide to Oahu's most popular hikes. Having completed the Koloa and Kaipapa'u Gulch waterfall hikes in the book, I opted for Laie Falls, the last waterfall I had not completed in the text, aside from Ma'akua Gulch, which is closed indefinitely.

The trailhead for Laie Falls is located across the road from the Laie Mormon Temple. If you are coming from the North Shore, and you pass Laie Shopping Center, you've gone too far; if you are coming from Kaneohe, and you pass Hukilau Beach Park, you've gone too far. Drive down the road. A yellow, open gate comes in to view. The side of the street offers parking. Walk down a paved road until it terminates to dirt. Ignore side roads along the way until another gate comes into view with signs indicating the start of the Laie Falls Trail. From there the trail is very easy to follow, and if one does become hesitant about side trails on the left and right, pink ribbons will direct the path correctly.

Soon after, the trail gradually ascends up long and hot eroded sections. Hiking these eroded sections in the summer would definitely be uncomfortable. The trail does offer some shade at times in between the eroded sections. Shade becomes more abundant once the trail cuts through a beautiful section of Cook pines. From the Cook pines and beyond, there aren't any eroded sections. After the pines, a long section of the trail contours the left side of the ridge, first passing uluhe ferns and then passing a long, dark, tunneled stretch of strawberry guava trees. This section of the trail does get monotonous, taking around half-an-hour to reach the junction that descends to Laie Falls. The junction is welcoming sight.

The Laie Trail is actually a graded ridge trail to the Ko'olau Summit, eventually reaching the junction with the Ko'olau Summit Trail. From the waterfall the junction, the trail continues straight to the summit. The trail to the summit from the trailhead is about six miles, making the trek to the summit a round trip of about twelve miles. The trail to Laie Falls is probably around two-and-a-half to three miles. It's not overly exerting, making for a great family hike, but the semi-steep trail to the falls does require some caution because some parts require minor scrambling with the aid of a rope or two.

Laie Falls is a two tiered waterfall, the higher one being the largest at around fifteen feet. A pool at the bottom of the higher waterfall offers a cool, refreshing, sweat-cleansing dip after an hour-and-a-half of hiking. In addition, the surrounding area is a quiet and peaceful lunching spot, accompanied by soft breezes. There is a trail that leads up to the top of the highest waterfall, and I'm pretty sure progress upstream is possible by following the trail. If one goes far enough, there may be another waterfall, but don’t take my word for it.

We headed out from the falls around 4:00pm, eventually reaching our car at 5:15pm. The hike back was pleasant; the cool wind kept us dry, and the sun was setting behind us, eventually dipping below and behind the Ko’olau Mountain Range. Picturesque views from Malaekahana to Laie Point lay out in front of us, with views of Malaekahana Ridge to the left, and another lush ridge to the right. Laie Falls is definitely a trail I will do again, and the summit hike is one I look forward to as well.

Wide open, exposed section about an hour into the hike.

The view looking toward Laie Point.

The section of Cook pines.

Contouring the left side of the ridge.

Two ribbons on hikes means a significant junction along a trail. Here is Matt, standing in the trail that leads to the waterfall. Continuing straight tops out at the Ko'olau summit.

The waterfall wasn't gushing, but it was still well worth the hike.

Fish eye view from atop the highest waterfall.

Foot shot.

Laie Falls.

Heading back.


Anonymous said...

Wished i went with you guys. . .so jealous. but yeah, saturday 8-5 shift at MTA ='s pretty shitty day. Next time guarantee. shoots. rio.

christy said...

my friend laarni just turned me on to your blog site. great pics and documentation. we're gonna do this hike tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

hey brah just a question, do you need to have a permit to hike at laie trail?

kaleo said...

you can get a permit at hawaii reserves inc. in laie shopping center, but the majority of hikers just walk on in. you'll be fine without one...

ibpoe said...

Permit, shmirmit.... Get one if you want, but whatever you do, DON'T STOP AT THE FALLS!!! I strongly suggest continuing to the summit. We camped at the summit, and the view of the entire island is amazing. However, past the falls the trail turns into a pig trail, so wear shoes -- I went barefooted and it wasn't easy. Also, bring lots of water, because it gets HOT, and you shouldn't drink the water at the falls unless boiled, nor should you swim in it with open wounds. Bottom line, if you turn back at the falls, you're cheating yourself out of an amazing hike.

Anonymous said...

Yeah if you go above the main falls, you can follow the stream up to a much taller falls, but the pool below is really shallow so you can't really swim. But it is still pretty fun.

Tree Fairy said...

I would like to add that there is confusion as to which road is the trail head. We set out to do this hike today, 10/16/2011, and took the road heading left. This was a disaster. Sewage plants, strange dead animals, GMO papaya--NOT the Waterfall and Strawberry Guava we were hoping for. When we came out, after three hours of looping around following the "Pink" ribbons mentioned on this blog, there was a group of people also wondering which way to go. We told them straight--which is correct...and as we walked to our car, another couple was exiting from the trail. They claimed that they thought THEY were going the wrong way...but I convinced them they were right by flagging down a local driving past. Apparantly there are a lot of "No Tresspassing" signs that had scared off these tourists. Regardless, in order to hedge against any further confusion the trail is STRAIGHT. Do not be fooled by the ribbons or the port a pottys...just go STRAIGHT.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I hiked this trail today, what a beautiful hike . It was a little tricky finding trail head.After a few wrong turns we found trail head and proceeds on. It can get warm in some places along trail so pack plenty of water. The trail was well marked with pink ribbon that guided us on our journey. It was quite a hike for us as e are not seasoned Hikers but it was well worth the trip , we finally made it to the falls . My wife was in aww , after swimming for a bit and relaxing , it started to rain on us do we decided to head out . Thank you for tipps to such a beautiful place . Thank you mike and Sophia mccall

Anonymous said...

Hi Todd,
My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for blog posts about Laie to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, drop me a line at Jane (at) Dwellable (.com)
Hope to hear from you :)

MAtt said...

Love the write up and photos, we'd love to have your review (and pics!) on the hike here if possible: https://lookintohawaii.com/hawaii/48953/laie-falls-laie-ridge-trail-activities-oahu-laie-hi

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