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After several years of sporadic exercise, in the summer of 1994 I made a resolution to devote more time to physical activity. An avid runner during one phase of my life, I found that the addition of more than just a few pounds made running painful and difficult to manage. As a consequence, I canned jogging and began taking brisk, long walks instead.

One of my favorite walking spots is located just five minutes from my Kaneohe home--Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens. My usual routine is to park near the front gate at the end of Luluku Road in the Keapuka subdivision and walk the two-and-half-mile distance to the gate at the other end of Hoomaluhia near Hawaiian Memorial Park. This made for a decent five mile roundtrip hike along the roadway through Hoomaluhia that I usually managed to complete in just over an hour.

After dozens of walks along the road-route through the park, I chanced upon a sign that said "Pond Trail." Curious, I ambled down a dirt path and soon found a trail system that contoured along Loko Waimaluhia, a good-sized lake fronted by a huge dam constructed for flood control. Almost urban-like compared to the other Oahu hikes, the Hoomaluhia trails have charm nevertheless. One segment, for instance, threads its way along the beautiful, gently-flowing Kamooalii stream. And this magnificence is framed by the majestically green Koolau mountain range's amphitheater-like presence. The mountains are particularly marvelous on cloudless days when the sun lights up the near-vertical gullies along its flanks. And following heavy mountain showers, waterfalls gush from the summit of Lanihuli down several of these same gullies.

Such sights and sounds can be yours if you visit Hoomaluhia's trails, which are safe enough for parents with young children and non-pedestrian enough for those who want some time to soak in nature's offerings. And to think that all this would have remained unknown to me if I hadn't seen that aforementioned sign. Good luck for me.

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