The A'akaki'i-Kokololio hike is a loop trail located in the foothills above Hau'ula town. Half of the route traverses a well-trodden path; the other half traverses a route mostly used by local pig hunters.
Initially, the trail starts on a well-defined path that gradually gains elevation and then descends into A'akaki'i Gulch. The trail then finds its way out of A'akaki'i Gulch by climbing steeply to gain the top of a ridge.
Turning mauka from the top of the ridge heads through an overgrown trail with the occasional head high uluhe fern; the makai route heads down the ridge back to the starting point. Despite the overgrowth on the mauka route, the views are spectacular. Lofty views of the windward coastline from Kahuku to Punalu'u can be seen, as well as views deep into Kaipapa'u and its adjacent gulches. More spectacular are the towering peaks of the lush Ko'olau mountains.
Heading makai, the ridge descends toward the ocean and back to the trailhead. With a bit of route finding, the broad ridge offers panoramic views along every exposed section. There are some shady rest spots to take advantage of: a quaint Cook pine grove offers a good amount of shade about half way down the ridge, as does some breezy ironwood groves further below as the ridge loses elevation. Every now and then a trail would appear, mostly faint and indistinct, but nothing unmanageable.
Nearing the end of the ridge, we took advantage of our last lofty view of the windward coastline before heading downhill to our starting point. Looking to the horizon we could hear a rustling stream to our right, with a small waterfall in view just below the north side of Kaipapa'u Hill. After a long rest and a wealthy amount of photo ops, we headed back down to our starting point and headed home.
photo: D. Napoleon
photo: D. Napoleon