O‘ahu Hike of the Month: Waimano Falls and Pools
A hidden trail in Pearl City that leads to a pool.
Editor’s Note: We love hiking! Fortunately, O‘ahu is full of great hikes. With this web series, we bring you our favorite O‘ahu trails once a month.
Photos: Brittney Nitta-Lee
TRAIL NAME: Waimano Falls and Pools (Mānana Trail)
LENGTH: 3 miles round trip
WHERE: Mānana Trail, at the top of Pacific Palisades.
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.
The pink markers guides you to the falls.
If you live on the West Side and want a short hike, Waimano Pools and Falls is the trail for you. It’s an easy three-mile hike that leads you to a cascading waterfall, though you’ll only see the waterfall if it was raining the night before. The hike isn’t crowded like Makapu‘u Point LightHouse, but it’s similar to the muddy pathways at Mānoa Falls.
Before you start the hike, make sure you go to the bathroom because there are no restrooms on the trail. The hike is in a neighborhood in Pacific Palisades, so parking on the street is very limited, especially on the weekends. Waimano Pools and Falls is also a hunting trail. You will most likely see hunting dogs and pigs that occasionally pass by you (don’t freak out).
The first two miles of the trail is a paved road covered with leaves and dirt (possibly mud), so be prepared to get your shoes dirty. There’s not much of a view on this trail, but you are surrounded by trees and lush green mountains. Be sure to follow the pink markers along the trail, as you don't want to accidentally hike up to the Ko‘olau Mountains, which is another five miles.
Use the roots of the trees to help you climb up “Cardiac Hill.”
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
The trail isn’t as strenuous as Wa‘ahila Ridge, but there are some challenging parts, such as “Cardiac Hill.” Walking down the steep root-filled hill is easy, but coming back up could be a little difficult (it’s also a good cardio run for your booty). You can use the roots of the trees to help you climb down steep hills. There’s no need to blaze through dirt roads or cross a stream, but expect to trek through a lot of mud.
Unfortunately, the pool was dry that day.
Photo: Catherine Toth Fox
After trekking through the mud and narrow pathways, you are rewarded with a beautiful waterfall (if it’s not dry that day). There’s a rope swing that allows you to jump into the pool from the top of the waterfall, if you’re okay with risking leptospirosis.
The hike back is more challenging because you are walking uphill, or running, if you see pigs in the bushes. Either way, the hike is a good workout and it took us less than an hour to get to the falls and about 45 minutes to get back (because we were running away from the pigs), even though it would usually take us more than an hour.
The trail does get muddy.
Photo: Brittney Nitta-Lee
Come early! There is not much street parking.
Wear comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. Also make sure that your shoes have enough traction because it does get slippery. (Leave your expensive Nikes at home.)
Bring a towel and a change of clothes if you plan on jumping into the pool.
Bring a jacket just in case it starts raining.
MAP & DIRECTIONS
From H-1, take the Pearl City/Waimalu exit. Turn right onto Moanalua Road, then turn right onto Komo Mai Drive. Drive through Komo Mai Drive all the way to Pacific Palisades to the end of the road.