Wahiawa Hills - April 25, 2009

At the end of California Avenue in Wahiawa there is a loop trail that I would have to claim as one of the most beautiful five mile hikes on the island. With the Hawaiian Trail Mountain Club trail clearing last weekend, the Wahiawa Hills trail was extremely easy to follow. I’ve heard many stories about how easy it is to get lost on the Wahiawa Hills trail (in the past, one hiker was lost and never found), but the club did such a good job on the trail clearing that getting lost was nearly impossible. Don’t get me wrong, though; the trail has a lot of junctions that lead elsewhere, but as long as you keep an eye out for ribbons, the correct path is easy to follow.

Daniel and I were so stoked to be hiking in our hometown. Usually we have to wake up early and drive a good length to get to certain trails, but today was different. The drive to the trail was only about five minutes. We arrived at the trailhead around 8am. The trail parallels a fence that surrounds two large water towers. Soon after, we found ourselves in a beautiful paperbark grove. From this point, finding the first ribbon indicating the official start of the trail was difficult, but after some searching we finally spotted a fresh pink ribbon at the bottom of a broad ridge.

After a brief walk, we reach our first stream crossing. A lone, hidden waterfall could be heard as well, but not seen. We crossed the stream, walked for a few minutes, and came to an obvious “T” junction. We took the left junction. At this junction, the stream we just crossed could be seen below on our left. To our right was Kaukonahua Stream, the longest stream in the state at 33 miles. The stream was wide, flowing, and beautiful.

Shortly after, we had to ford Kaukonahua Stream. At its deepest, the stream was shin deep. Once we reached the opposite side of the stream, we had to scramble up a steep bank to get back onto the trail. It was here that we encountered our first steep hill. The ascent was long and brutal. After a good ten minutes of uphill sweating, the trail leveled out in a grove of eucalyptus and koa trees. Soon after, we encountered another critical junction. The right junction looked freshly weed-whacked, but we had no idea where it would end up. Instead, we took the left junction, following directions in Stuart Ball’s hiking guide. My assumption is that the trail clearers split up to clear both junctions. A small bamboo grove is a good indicator that you are on the right path to get to the stream. From the small bamboo grove, the trail swings straight for the Ko’olaus. After about a third of a mile, another junction comes into view. We went right. The right junction took us downhill in a lovely shaded grove of towering eucalyptus trees.

We soon found ourselves at Kaukonahua Stream, with an idyllic lunch spot and a cold, deep pool to swim in. After about an hour of lounging, we headed back to the trail. It was here that we again found ourselves sweating on a steep uphill ascent in the midday sun. Along the way up were unbelievable views of untouched land for as far as the eye could see. Not once did we see any utility poles or electric wires.

After snapping a good amount of pictures with our cameras, Daniel and I headed back through a lovely section of the trail that passes some of the greenest landscape I have ever seen. We eventually met up with a junction and turned left, only to find ourselves quickly back at the first stream crossing in the beginning of the hike. A nice, long trek up the broad ridge we had descended initially gave us a good last sweat. We ended the hike at my car at 1pm.

If you are planning to do Wahiawa Hills, I would definitely do it within the next two months. The trail is in exceptional condition right now because of the recent trail clearing: they weed-whacked the hell out of the uluhe fern sections. All in all, the loop is not as intricate and complex as it has been hyped up to be. Daniel and I were blessed with the best weather any hiker could ask for. With that said I would not recommend this hike when it’s muddy or raining. The danger of slipping and falling is obvious, and with a heavy rain, Kaukonahua Stream can fill to fatal proportions. At the lunch spot, we could see how high the water rose with the past onslaught of recent rains; the tangled debris and shrubs were about 30 feet above us: what a scary thought. Nevertheless, it is a gem of a hike, and one of the best forest walks on the island Oahu. I will definitely be back to do the trail again sometime.

First steep climb. Notice how clear the trail is. The Hawaiian Trail Mountain Club did an amazing job.

2nd sight of Kaukonahua Stream, about 2 miles into the hike.

Daniel, doing some exploration downstream.

Nice area to take a dip.

Heading back.

Final ascent to get back to the car.

Views and other pictures:

View looking toward Mount Ka'ala.

Not one building in sight.


Unknown said...

love the b/w's bullet

christy said...

nice. i like the black and white shots too!

Anonymous said...

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