Oʻahu Hike of the Month: Makiki Valley Loop Trail
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life without leaving Honolulu.
Photos: Courtesy of Lennie Omalza
TRAIL NAME: Makiki Valley Loop Trail
LENGTH: 2.5 miles roundtrip
WHERE: Hawaiʻi Nature Center, 2131 Maikiki Heights Drive
Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person. Keep your personal fitness and skill levels in mind, and always take proper precautions when venturing off road. Heed “no trespassing” and other warning signs.
Makiki Valley Loop Trail encompasses three trails (Kanealole Trail, Makiki Valley Trail and Maunalaha Trail), which might make it seem long and confusing, but not to worry. A mere 2.5 miles, it makes for a nice workout in a fairly easy-to-navigate setting. (Read and follow the signs!)
The journey begins just past Hawaiʻi Nature Center, on Makiki Heights Drive. Hikers can park in the lot on the left near the green gate and walk a bit farther up to find the start of the trail on the right-hand side. Past the restrooms and water faucet, there’s a bridge over the stream, which leads to the Kanealole and Maunalaha trail signs. We followed the arrows up the steps until reaching the Makiki Valley Loop Trail welcome sign and map. Hiking counterclockwise on Maunalaha Trail gets the steeper part out of the way first. Making the trek isn’t terribly difficult, but there are a lot of tree roots and rocks. It might be a bit much for little ones, although on our way, there were other hikers of all ages (and seemingly all fitness levels) on the trail, including four-legged friends.
Over the roots and rocks and through the woods, we made it to the top, which is the three-trail junction. Complete with benches, it’s a great place to take a little breather, if needed. Heading down Kanealole Trail was a breeze, literally and figuratively. Since we got in our workout during the first half, we cruised down through the rest of the shady trail, listening to the calming sounds of the stream while soaking up our piece of nature in the city.
Though there is no ocean view, there is a lookout over Honolulu, which is nice. The tree arches are also gorgeous and make for good photo ops. What we love most is that it was kind of like stepping into another world. After spending most of the day downtown, we felt refreshed after our trek through the woods, which took us past running water as well as local flora, fauna and birds.
MAP & DIRECTIONS
Park in the lot just past Hawaiʻi Nature Center, which is located at 2131 Maikiki Heights Drive. Trail signs will be a bit further up the road to the right, past the restrooms.
Pack your mosquito repellent, and be sure to apply before you begin.
Give yourself enough time to complete the trail. Though it is short, going uphill might take more time than you think—and the parking lot closes at sunset. You don’t want to be on the trail in the dark!
Don’t attempt this hike after a heavy rain; mud and steep hills don’t go together.