O‘ahu Hike of the Month: ‘Aiea Loop Trail

This easy trail is a hike through a verdant forest with native trees.


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 once a month.


Aiea Loop Trail

Photos: Catherine Toth Fox


TRAIL NAME: ‘Aiea Loop Trail


LENGTH: 4.8-mile loop

FEE: None

WHERE: 99-1849 ‘Aiea Heights Drive, ‘Aiea


Hiking can be dangerous, and not every trail is a good idea for every person. Keep your personal fitness and skill level in mind, and always take proper precautions when venturing off road. Heed “no trespassing” and other warning signs.


Aiea Loop Trail



If you’re looking for a hike that’s not too strenuous—no rock-climbing, no ropes, no stairs—but that immerses you in a verdant forest, including native trees, consider ‘Aiea Loop Trail. This pleasant, mostly shady 4.8-mile hike runs along the ridge on the west side of Hālawa Valley, with views of Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and the Ko‘olau Mountains. Since it’s a loop, you’ll never get bored; every view will be new and different. Plus, there’s a ton of parking (and restrooms) at the Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area, a 384-acre park where the trailhead is located. If you want to toughen it up, the much harder, 4-mile Kalauao Trail is located off an S-shaped curve at a junction on the trail. This hike takes you to a popular waterfall with swimming holes. The hike back—it’s entirely uphill—is your cardio workout for the week.



Don’t expect panoramic summit views like you’d get at the end of one of O‘ahu’s popular Ko‘olau trails. But you will get a birds-eye view of the H-3 Freeway as it intersects pristine Hālawa Valley. That lookout point comes midway through the hike. And the trail itself is a relaxing walk through lush groves of lemon eucalyptus, Norfolk pine and native koa and ʻōhiʻa trees. You used to be able to see remnants of a B-24 bomber that crashed here in 1944 from one point on the trail, but these days it’s difficult (if not impossible). A landslide a few years back pushed the plane wreckage to the bottom of the gulch. Still, the hike is a great workout—and The Alley Restaurant (and its lemon-crunch cake) is just down the road. Three miles, to be exact.


Aiea Loop Trail



The trailhead is located at the top of ‘Aiea Heights Drive, in the Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area. There are a few parking areas, bathrooms and picnic spots.




  • Dogs are allowed, but you must keep them leashed.

  • This is a popular trail for runners; mountain biking, though, is not allowed.

  • Watch the weather. This can be a very muddy trail if it’s rained recently.

  • Look for native birds, particularly the endemic O‘ahu ‘elepaio (monarch flycatcher), which is thriving here.

  • It may be an easy hike, but it’s long—nearly five miles—and involves some gradual uphill climbs and a stream crossing. Give yourself about three hours to complete it.


Click here for more Oʻahu hikes.




Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine April 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags



Colin Nishida, Beloved Chef and Restaurateur, Leaves a Culinary Legacy

Colin Nishida

An entire community remembers the owner of Side Street Inn.


Closing of Popular Lanikai Pillbox Hike Delayed Until Further Notice

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

The state asks for public input as it works to repair the old concrete observation stations on the trail, commonly known as “pillboxes.”


First Look: Panda Dimsum in Kalihi

Panda Dim Sum

Frogs, hedgehogs and bees, oh my! This spot dishes up cute, Instagrammable dumplings.


Kaimukī Gets da Shop, a New Kind of Bookstore and Event Space

Da Shop

It takes guts to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the days of instant online gratification, but in da Shop, local publisher Bess Press has found a way to allow fickle/loyal readers to have their cake and eat it, too.


20 Great O‘ahu Hikes

Explore 20 great adventures that offer beautiful vistas, waterfalls and more.



Edit ModuleShow Tags