O‘ahu Hike We Like: Maunawili Trail
Get a killer cardio workout and great views on this long hike.
Editor’s Note: We love hiking! Fortunately, O‘ahu is full of great hikes. In this web series, we bring you our favorite O‘ahu trails.
Photo: Tiffany Hill
TRAIL NAME: Maunawili Trail
LENGTH: 10 miles one way
WHERE: Pali Highway lookout to Waimānalo
Photo: Shawn Stoyer
If you’re looking to burn off that grand holiday meal and those home-baked sweets your co-worker keeps bringing in, the Maunawili Trail might be the hike for you. It is 10 miles long. One way. New year, new you, right?!
Not to be confused with the popular Maunawili Falls Trail, the Maunawili Trail is the falls’ longer cousin, sans waterfall and the crowds of people. That’s one of the best parts about it: Few people hike this trail. In the hours we were there, we only saw three other hikers.
Photo: Shawn Stoyer
There are several ways to hike this trail. Some hike as far as they want, then turn around and head back. If you’re going to do the whole thing, we recommend going with friends and taking two cars. Park one car in Waimānalo on Waikupanaha Street, where the trail ends, then jump in the other car and park at the lookout area off the Pali Highway, just after the tunnels. The trailhead starts to the right of the scenic lookout.
Maunawili Trail is a meandering trail and parts of it are wide enough for both hikers and mountain bikes. We didn’t see anyone riding during our hike, but we did come across a couple of forlorn bikes, apparently abandoned midride. Since this trail is on the Windward Side of Oʻahu, it can be muddy. We also had to climb over a couple of fallen trees, adding to our exercise.
PHOTO: TIFFANY HILL
The accomplishment: Hiking Maunawili Trail from beginning to end takes you from Kailua to Waimānalo! The gentle slopes of the trail go through Maunawili Valley, hugging the base of the Koʻolau Mountains.
The trail opens up several times along the way, offering panoramic views of Windward Oʻahu, including Mānana Island, aka Rabbit Island, Olomana and eventually Waimānalo. From one end to the other, the trail’s vegetation transforms before you. We saw mountain apple, giant ferns, mamaki, ʻōhiʻa, ti and more.
Map & Directions
Take the Pali Highway past the tunnels. Just after them is a curve in the road, heading left. On your right is a scenic lookout with a parking lot. The trailhead begins to the right. Leave another car in Waimānalo on Waikupanaha Street, at the end of the trail.
Depending on your pace, and how many breaks and photos you take along the way, plan to spend five to six hours on this 10-mile trail.
Definitely bring water and snacks, and wear sunscreen!
Bring mosquito repellent.