The weather this past weekend was phenomenal. Clear skies made for absolutely no cloud cover atop the Ko’olau and Waianae summits. And while I shuddered at the fact that I could have scaled a Ko’olau trail on this rare, cloud-free Sunday, I had to remind myself that the mountains will always be there, and days like this aren’t actually “rare” on this island (or in this state for that matter).
The day started off perfect. I arose to the sound of my rooster at 6:30am, packed up my hiking and surf gear, and picked up Daniel. The surf forecast looked good as well, and the day before, my friends and I had a perfect little surf session. We had intended to hike on Saturday, but the waves were too good on our way to the trailhead. So instead of donning our hiking gear, we headed out to the ocean. The same was true on Sunday. As we headed for the trailhead, we stopped by where we surfed on Saturday. The waves still looked fun, so we jumped in. About an hour-and-a-half in, the wind changed, the waves were getting smaller, and getting a short hike in didn’t sound like a bad idea. Daniel and I dried off and headed toward Kaneohe to Pu’u Ma’eli’eli.
From Kahekili Highway, we took Kamehameha Highway toward Kaneohe. There is a shopping on the left, just across of a graveyard on the right. We parked on East Hui Iwa Street near McDonalds and a bunch of townhouses. From there, we walked back onto Kamehameha Highway and turned left. Just past the townhouses is a well-defined and obvious trail that leads uphill. The trail here is in very good condition. I’ve heard of other ways to climb the 720 foot hill, but this route seems to be the best.
A short walk uphill eventually leads to an old 4x4 road. The road is moderately steep and gives a good warm-up for the hike ahead. The trail then forks. Daniel and I took the left fork. Ribbons helped out our progress along the way as well; in addition, many side trails to the left and right, much of which I believe come from the townhouses below, came at as minute after minute. These trails we ignored.
A little ways in there is a double ribbon junction affixed to the trunk of a tree. Daniel and I took the left junction; the right junction can be taken as well, and it will terminate at the same spot, and I think taking the right junction instead of the left is a better option. After taking the left junction, the trail contours the side of the hill and eventually meets up at another junction. From here we took the right junction going steeply uphill.
The remainder of the hike from this point is on a broad ridge. First, the trail climbs steeply to a hidden bunker that had an awful smell emitting from inside. After passing the first bunker, the trail reaches an exposed second bunker. The view atop the second bunker is breathtaking, especially on this day. Straight ahead were the sandbars of Kailua and Kaneohe. To the right was Mokapu Point and Kaneohe Bay. To the left was a view from Kahalu’u to Kualoa.
The Ma’eli’eli trail is about a three mile hike: a perfect trail for a post-work hike/workout. From trailhead to terminus, it took us a little over half an hour. Also, the trail is heavily shaded, so it’s pleasant walking all the way to the second bunker. Truly a novice hike, and one that anyone can do, Ma’eli’eli is worth a try, with a great view at the top. It’s not too often that a surf and hike session can be done in one day, but Daniel and I are stoked to say we’ve done it. And on a beautiful day like Sunday, it reminded us that we are so lucky to live in Hawaii.