Nuuanu Pali

Nuuanu Pali

by Dayle Turner

This is one of those hikes that many local people should have gone on but haven't. The route I took began at the parking lot of the Pali Lookout, a famous windy-day hangout, a well-known tourist point-of-interest and the site of the famous battle of Nuuanu where the army of Kamehameha the Great won a pivotal confrontation over the forces of Oahu.

From the lookout, I proceeded along and down the concrete roadway carved out along the side of steep-faced Pu'u Konahuanui, which at 3,150 feet in elevation is the highest point in the Koolau Mountain Range. Traveling along the road in a horse and carriage or in an old-time auto in the pre-Pali-tunnel days must've been one helluva thrill. The view of Kaneohe and Kailua Bays are spectacular, an adjective you'll hear more than a couple times when I describe the sights on Oahu hikes.

After descending the ancient highway for a half mile or so, I reached a junction where I had some options. First, I could continue straight ahead on the contour trail for a half mile or so and hook up with the recently completed Maunawili trail which begins at the hairpin turn. A second option was to retrace my steps back to the lookout. Another option was to veer left at the junction and hop a fence and scramble underneath the Pali Highway viaduct.

Choosing the latter option, I found what appeared to be a shabbily constructed tool shed of some sort under the highway. Perhaps it was the home of the person who checks passing cars to make sure no pork is on board (according to local legend, transporting pork over the Pali is believed to lead to an inevitable auto stall). Whatever the case, after skirting my way under the viaduct and past the shed, I proceeded onto the Old Pali Road. From there I could have can continued on the Likeke trail which extends to a point next to the Kaneohe-side entrance of the Wilson Tunnel.

I continued on to a pleasant little waterfall and returned the same way I had descended. Based on the weather, how much time you have, and your mood, give any of the three options a try.

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