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