I’m not sure what to officially call this trail; it’s either Oneawa Hills or Kawa’ewa’e. Whatever the name is, the residents that live on Kokokahi Street and Lipalu Street in Kaneohe have backyard access to a trail that offers a great workout that takes only two hours or less to complete, if the trail is done as a one-way excursion.
The trailhead for Kawa’ewa’e exists at the Friendship Garden entrance at the end of Kokokoahi Street in Kaneohe. A good landmark is the YWCA on Kaneohe Bay Drive. Once the YWCA comes into view on the left, turn right on the next street (Kokokahi). Follow Kokokahi Street for a little while until you see a small sign on your left that says “Friendship Garden.” Find legal parking near this signed entrance. If you have two cars to park at each end, then your end point will be Lipalu Street. From Kokokahi Street, go back towards Kaneohe Bay Drive and turn left on it. Pass the TWCA on your right, and look for Lipolu Street on your left. Follow it a ways and park near its end somewhere along the street. Shuttle back to Kokokahi to start the hike. You can start the hike from Lipalu Street if you like.
From the Friendship Garden trailhead on Kokokahi Street, the trail initially heads gradually uphill on rock stairs. The trail will immediately split. Take the left junction; the right junction is the return route of the Friendship Garden loop.
The trail switchbacks a couple times until a sharp left junction is reached and marked by a ribbon. Straight ahead is the continuation of the Friendship Garden loop; the sharp left junction heads to the ridge crest and the continuation of the Oneawa Hills/Kawa’ewa’e trail.
The ridge has several short, stiff climbs, accompanied by some minor dips. After each short climb, cellular phone transmission stations are reached. One particular station sits on a large clearing which I assume is used as a helicopter landing pad for dropping off equipment and materials.
Farther into the hike, a rock quarry comes into view, with sounds of equipment and trucks operating below. A huge, nasty looking man-made lake can also be seen below.
As with every hike, following ribbons is a must on this trail. There are sections along the ridge where the trail seems to disappear in fern gardens. We also passed a junction before the quarry overlook; it looked as though that the junction just shortened the hike by descending to another cul-de-sac on the right. After the quarry overlook, there are a few minor rope sections to negotiate. Soon after, the junction to Lipalu Street comes into view. (Remember, two ribbons mean a critical junction.) The trail took us two hours and fifteen minutes to complete. It would’ve taken us under two hours, but we took a lot of picture breaks. There are views of Kawainui Marsh, Kaneohe Bay, and the massive Ko’olau Mountain Range. If I lived in the area, I would do this trail every day, but I don’t, so this hike is another one of those hikes that I probably will never do again.