OHE December 18, 1999 (East Oahu Loop)

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 23:03:35 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: East Oahu Loop

Today marks the start of 2.5 weeks of vacation, and to celebrate the occasion, I slept in this morning till 8:30 [g]. Then after eating breakfast and watching some football on TV, I headed out to the Makapuu area to hike. It so happens that there was a Christmas parade through Waimanalo today. And it so happens that I chose to drive to Makapuu via 'Nalo at just the time the parade began. So after sitting in gridlocked traffic by the Waimanalo polo field for a good 30-40 minutes (with blood pressure rising), I at last was moving again and on my way to start my hike.

With a loop in mind, I parked on Kealahou Street, the one that leads into Kalama Valley before Sandy Beach, leaving my vehicle curbside about midway between the highway and the entrance road to the Koko Crater stables. With two hiking poles and my day pack containing 2 liters of water and a power bar, I set off makai on Kealahou, heading back toward Kalanianaole.

About 60-70 meters before hitting the highway, I veered left on a jeep road through an undeveloped lot that occupies an acre or so between the highway and the Hawaii Kai Golf Course. In maybe an eighth of a mile, the jeep road descended a slope alongside the highway. I then followed the highway, Waimanalo-bound, watching jovial golfers preparing to tee off on my left.

In a couple minutes, I crossed the entrance driveway to the golf course, then ascended a slope on its far side to get to the crest of a spur ridge. This spur is one of the toes of the Koolau mountain range. I've eyed it for several years whenever I drove past it, and today would be the day I hiked it.

For those who want to see the hike route on topo maps, go to



The spur heads due north to eventually join the Makapuu trail, the one that starts across from the lookout above Makapuu Bay. The junction is at pu'u 733, which is marked by a large pile of stones. The spur I hiked to get there has a reasonably defined trail, not that one is essential since the area is rocky, dry, and populated by scrub vegetation. A brush fire in recent months also helped to make the spur easier to navigate, ridding it of a good deal of that pesky thorned kiawe.

Today was warm and a bit muggy, creating less than ideal hiking conditions, but I kept plugging away, relishing the breezes when they flowed up the slopes. The views are always pretty in this area, my favorite being the deep blue water around Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu.

After pu'u 733, there is a saddle, then a climb to pu'u 909, at which point Kalama Valley and the homes within it come into view to the left. From hill 909, there is a pretty stiff descent to get to another saddle. It was in this low area that I stopped for my first break, just past Kaulanaaka'iole, literally "the resting place of the rat." A hole in the cliffside marks the spot. I drank some water, reflected on the fatigue I felt, checked the time, and decided to wait till I climbed the next big hill to gobble my power bar.

I made it up pu'u 1251 okay, taking my time so as not to collapse in the thick air. A sweet breeze greeted me at the top, and I sat down on a rock just before the crest of the hill to fish out the power bar I promised myself. As I sat there nibbling, I thought about many things, including the recent discussion about biodegradable trash. While I see the point of sticking a banana peel back into my pack instead of tossing it into the bushes, I couldn't help but think that a peel in the bushes isn't such a bad thing. It will attract rats, someone said. Okay, so rats might come after the peel. And then? They'll eat the peel and stick around to eat seeds of native plants and eggs of native birds. But aren't the rats eating seeds and eggs already? What is it about a banana peel in the bushes that will make the situation worse? I can't figure that out.

After all the mental mumbo jumbo, I roused myself to my feet and recommenced hiking. I passed abandoned buildings on the left, some hang glider platforms on the right, and walked up the access road to the enclosed abandoned tracking station. In a couple minutes I was through the station and descending a steep slope beyond its west perimeter.

There is a saddle, then an intermediate pu'u, then a climb to another ironwood-topped pu'u where we've stopped to eat lunch in the past. A hilltop just past the ironwoods marks the top of the Kaupo Cliffs trail, and then there is a gradual descent to a junction in an ironwood forest where I headed left to start my way down the ridge that separates Kamilonui and Kamiloiki Valleys.

The trail on this ridge is in the best condition I've seen it. People are hiking, clearing, and flagging it. I also spotted a trail heading down a small cleft in the slope to Kamiloiki Valley (this trail is on the left while descending the ridge). I've never noticed this trail in the half dozen times I've hiked this ridge.

A bit further down, I used a well-cleared bypass trail to contour around a rocky pu'u that I've always gone up and over in the past. Nice work to those responsible for this improved route.

The turnoff trail near the base of the ridge is situated between two flags made of red & white material someone has put up. The switchback trail down to the (Pahua) heiau (on Makehuena Place) is also well-used and marked.

I took a short break at the bench on the small lawn at the foot of the heiau, then walked two miles back to my car via Hawaii Kai Drive and then Kealahou. On the way, I scanned the facing side of Koko Crater, examining the numerous spurs extending to the rim. Some looked do-able. Maybe some other time.

In all, a good, sweaty workout on trails free of mud.


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