Makiki-Tantalus

Makiki-Tantalus

by Dayle Turner

Feeling energetic and ambitious one day in the summer of '94, I decided to tackle what Stuart Ball describes as "the grand sightseeing trip on Oahu's best developed trail system." If you decide to do this, be prepared to devote the better portion of a day to complete this 8-mile loop hike that begins at the Hawaii Nature Center in Makiki, proceeds up switchbacks to the top of Tantalus, continues on the Manoa Cliffs, and Pauoa Flats trails to a spot overlooking the upper Nuuanu reservoir and loops back to the starting point. I know I wouldn't have completed the route without Ball's book in hand, for the Makiki-Tantalus trail system is a myriad of junctions and trails leading this way and that.

The view from the reservoir overlook is--well, spectacular (I warned you)--and every time I'm driving up Nuuanu valley, I gaze longingly at the mountains and tell myself, "I've been there." It's nice to have that feeling of accomplishment. From the overlook, adventurous sorts (like my girlfriend Jackie) can proceed upslope to Konahuanui, the highest point in the Koolau range [for a spiritual account of an ascent up Konahuanui, read the chapter "Millennium" in Peter Adler's *Beyond Paradise* (Woodbridge: Ox Bow Press, 1993)]. Otherwise, the overlook is the turnaround point for the loop.


Addendum (3/14/97): I've hiked the Makiki-Tantalus Loop twice in the last several months and can report the trail is in superb condition, primarily because of a ban on mountain bikes. On my initial trek prior to the ban, the trail was muddy and eroded.

Here are some hiking times, based on a 3/14/97 trek, to give others an idea how long segments of the trail are:

  1. Nature Center to Makiki Valley Trail (MVT) Junction (via Kanealole Trail)--20 minutes of gradual climbing.
  2. MVT to Nahuina Trail junction--5 minutes of semi-steep climbing.
  3. Nahuina to Tantalus Drive--20 minutes of steady climbing on long switchbacks.
  4. Tantalus Drive to Manoa Cliffs trailhead--2-3 minute walk on road.
  5. Manoa Cliffs trailhead to junction with connector trail to Pauoa Flats--25 minutes of gentle contouring on ewa-facing side of Tantalus summit hump.
  6. Continue climbing on switchbacks on Manoa Cliff Trail to junction with Pu'u Ohia Trail--20 minutes.
  7. Pu'u Ohia Junction to Round Top Drive and end of Manoa Cliff Trail--35 minutes of gentle climbing and descending around Manoa-facing side of Tantalus.
  8. Roundtop Drive to Makiki Valley Trail junction via Moleka Trail--15 minutes of gentle descent.
  9. Return to Nature Center via MVT and Maunalaha trail--25 minutes of steady descent.

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