According to a hiking club vet, the trail is for novices--the equivalent to a beginning skier's bunny slope. Could've fooled me though, for my lungs and legs told me otherwise. Since then I've come to realize that a beginner's trail is so deemed because of its ease of access and its lack of obstacles and danger. Be prepared to sweat and watch your pulse rate elevate on this hike. The great reward is a spectacular view of the windward coast fronting Hauula and the equally beautiful trade winds that do wonders for a body on the verge of overheating.
After doing the first half of the double loop, the small sub-group I was with became disoriented and we inadvertently headed up a path that I later found out was the Ma`akua Gulch Trail. After about 45 minutes of crisscrossing a dried-up, rocky river bed, the group reached a consensus: this wasn't the trail the group leader had described to us in our pre-hike orientation. A self-proclaimed adventurer, my girlfriend Jackie was all for continuing up the gulch trail to who knows where. Probably with visions of a cold night out in the wilderness with fire-rescue choppers whirring overhead in mind, the majority of our five-person party thought it better if we head back. And so we did. When we arrived back at the trailhead, the hike leader--a weathered mid-40ish haole woman with a quiet, calm demeanor--told us that we had proceeded mauka when we should have made a makai turn.
As a result of our poor sense of direction, I only got to hike half of the Hauula/Papali double loop that day. Several months later I returned to do the complete double-loop. The entire 6-mile circuit took me about 3 hours, and I left Hauula/Papali feeling satisfied and energized.