Waimalu Ditch Loop Trail - August 21, 2009

Daniel said it best before the hike we did on Friday: “The name of that trail sounds shitty.” Kevin and I thought about the name, too, but if the trail is listed on the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club’s website, there must be something cool about it.

The trail in question was the Waimalu Ditch Trail. When I thought of the word “ditch,” I imagined a concrete canal nestled in some valley filled with starving mosquitoes and the foul stench of stagnant water. But I always envision a trail to be the way I think it turns out, and I’m always way off. The Waimalu Ditch Trail actually turned out to be a fun little loop hike; it was so fun, in fact, that I want to go back and explore the valley a little more.

The Waimalu Ditch trailhead is easy to find. From Moanalua Road (the same road that heads to Pearlridge Shopping Center), turn mauka (mountain) on Kaonohi Street, and follow the street all the way to the top until you reach Onikiniki Place. Just before the gated community, park somewhere along Onikiniki. The trail begins on the left side of the gate.

At the very start of the trail, a small plaque can be seen fixated on a tree. The plaque is posted for lost Australian hiker named John Parsons; he was lost on the trail in September 2008. His body/remains have yet to found.

Past the plaque is a very well-defined trail. The trail immediately splits. Stay to the left. A descent will resume on what veteran HTMC hikers call The Dogshit Trail. What a brilliant name! There was dogshit everywhere! Our eyes were keen to hop and skip where ever it was needed.

After a short ways the trail will split again. Going left will take you down to the stream; going straight will take you to a junction that climbs ridiculous steep to Waimalu Middle Ridge, which his actually the return route of the loop. Doing the loop in a counterclockwise direction is not recommended. Take the clockwise direction like we did; it is a lot easier.

The trail contours comfortably for almost an hour. It even heads makai (seaward) for a few minutes to edge around Waimalu Middle Ridge. (*A critical junction to remember is where the first sight of uluhe ferns starts. Walk a ways, passing a wall of uluhe on your right, until it tapers to a grassy area. Up ahead the trail makes an obvious and gradual descent. While looking toward the Ko’olau summit, turn in the direction of four-o’clock. A faint, grassy trail will manifest itself, and ribbons will soon come into view. Remember this junction to make the hike a loop; the aforementioned trail climbs steeply to Waimalu Middle Ridge and heads back to the start of the hike.)

We proceeded straight to our first sight of the stream. It was flowing quite nicely, and the water was extremely clear. We crossed the stream a number of times, passing some nice swimming holes along the way. We also encountered a group of hunters that caught a nice size boar.

At a certain point we reached a tree marked with three ribbons indicating the end of the trail. Further progress was possible, but after asking the hunters how far the trail went on, they told us that it goes on for another ten minutes and just closes up. So we turned around and headed back toward the junction that heads up to Waimalu Middle Ridge.

The climb up to gain the crest of the middle ridge reminded me of the hike up to “Three Poles” in Waianae Valley: steep, tiring, and not suited for a novice hiker. After twenty minutes of ascending, we finally reached the crest of Waimalu Middle Ridge. Turning left can bring one all the way to the Ko’olau summit; turning right, which is what we did, brings one back to the trailhead.

The trail along the ridge was choked with uluhe. Scraping and bleeding on our legs followed suit, and we soon reached a junction that took us extremely steep down the left side of the ridge. As far as I’m concerned, there was virtually no trail. All we could follow were ribbons. After falling and getting dirty, we finally reach the bottom and followed an obvious path back to The Dogshit Trail.

The populous area of Waimalu, Pearl City, and Aiea is a little discouraging. I never thought that above these cities was a lush area full of valleys and streams. From the trail looking toward the Ko’olau summit, there are three ridges: one to the left, one in the middle, and one to the right; all of which I’m pretty sure can be hiked all the way to the summit. I’ll have to check out these ridge options sometime in the future. The trail took me, Kevin, and Daniel a little over five hours to complete, and it was a hell of a workout. We descended a ridge, contoured a ridge, climbed over it, and then climbed back up a ridge. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful trail, and it is definitely one I wouldn’t mind doing again.

The lush Waimalu Valley.

Anyone know what kind of bird this is? (photo: D. Napoleon)

Ie'ie. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Peaking through the uluhe on Waimalu Middle Ridge.

Lots of uluhe to push through on top of the ridge.

Daniel climb, Kevin laugh.

Anyone know what kind of flower this is?

Pools along the stream:

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: D. Napoleon



Oneawa Hills (Kawa'ewa'e) - August 18, 2009

I got back into hiking mode today, and for good reason: fall semester starts next week. That means I only get to hike one trail a week. Couple that with the upcoming winter swells, and it’ll be tough to choose between hiking and surfing.

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.

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: D. Napoleon



Aiea Loop Bisectional Trail - August 7, 2009

A week's passed since I went on a four day hiking binge. My muscles are healed now, so I decided to do a short, easy hike that I've been wanting to check out for a while. The trail is called Aiea Loop Bisectional, a three-mile novice loop at the top of Aiea Heights Drive. After walking about twenty minutes on the Aiea Loop Trail (counterclockwise), you'll reach an indistinct junction to the right. A good landmark is the first bench. Just after the bench, look for an obvious clearing to the right. The trail heads makai (seaward).

I thought the Aiea Loop Bisectional Trail was going to be extremely boring, but it's actually nice, especially at the streambed. Aside from the powerlines that have to be passed, the trail is obviously less used than the Aiea Loop freeway. The trail descends on top of the crest of a wide ridge to Aiea Stream. From the junction off of the Aiea Loop Trail, it took me about an hour to reach the stream. From there, the trail follows downstream (makai) on the right side in very overgrown conditions. The trail is there, but it is overgrown. The smell of ginger at the streambed surrounds the entire area.

For the most part, the trail truly tests one's hiking judgement. Ribbons exist along the ridge and the stream, but the trail at the streambed is very indistinct. Although short, the trail can get confusing. Just follow the ridge, look for ribbons, and when at the streambed, follow it downstream. Following the stream makai will eventually meet up with the last portion of the Aiea Loop Trail. Turning right along the trail will bring you back to the parking lot.

Beginning of the bisectional trail.

Heading down to Aiea Stream.

At the bottom near the stream. The trail is in there somewhere.