Likeke Trail (1995)

Likeke Trail (1995)

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I've lived on the windward side of Oahu all my life and have travelled up Likelike Highway and through the Wilson tunnel thousands of times over the years. Most first-time visitors to windward Oahu marvel over the panoramic view of Kaneohe Bay confronting them as they emerge from the tunnel on the Kaneohe- side. In fact, up until a few years ago, sightseers could pull into a parking lot to the right just outside the tunnel to enjoy the view.

Probably because of the danger of entering and exiting the parking lot, officials decided to barricade it a few years back. What I did not realize is that at the far end of that now- abandoned parking lot is the starting point for a trail called Likeke, named after Richard (Likeke) "Dick" Davis, the man who blazed it in the early 60s as a hiking venue for windward area Boy Scouts [Read a piece about a meeting with Davis]. Undoubtedly, hikers in the past parked in the lot and set forth on their sojourns. Nowadays, anyone hiking Likeke must park a quarter mile past the tunnel down the highway on a grassy plateau and hike back up to the trailhead.

This parking situation seems to have discouraged hikers from setting out on Likeke, for the condition it is in indicates that the route is not heavily travelled. Elevation gain and loss on this hike is negligible as the trail contours in and out of gullies along the base of the near-vertical palis of the Koolau Mountain range.

If you hike Likeke at the right time of year, you can emerge with a bag full of mountain apples. My most recent trek along Likeke was in June '95 and the mountain apples were relatively abundant, as were squadrons of pesky mosquitoes.

At some points along the route, you'll be looking down on the fairways of the Japanese-owned Koolau Golf Course. However, for the most part, you'll be working your way through a series of gentle ups and downs. Be forewarned that the trail is relatively indistinct and vegetation masks it at several points. Fortunately, yellow and pink markers remarkably appear on a tree branch whenever the "which-way-now?" query may pop into mind.

After two and a half miles of hiking, you'll see the Pali Lookout above you and soon thereafter arrive at a pleasant little waterfall located below the Pali Tunnels. Once there, you can snack on the mountain apples you've picked while you rinse your feet in the shallow pond at the base of the falls. Thereafter, you can either retrace your steps to Likelike Highway or continue on to the Old Pali Road trail that can take you to a junction where you can head to the Pali Lookout or Waimanalo-bound on the Maunawili Trail.

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