OHE February 26, 2000 (Maunawili Loop)

Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 13:58:54 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu)
Subject: Maunawili Loop

This past Christmas Day, I did a loop hike in Maunawili Valley where I started at the hairpin turn on Pali Highway and hiked along the Maunawili Demo Trail, descended Piliwale Ridge to the Maunawili residential area and then returned to the demo trail via the Maunawili Falls Trail and its fairly new connector route. A map of that route is on the web at


After I posted a write-up about that hike, Art Neilson emailed me with info about a trail that goes cross country to connect Piliwale Ridge with the Maunawili Falls Trail. Using this trail, said Art, will help a hiker avoid the road walking through the Maunawili residential area. That sounded appealing to me, and today I set out to find that cross country connector route. All went well.

Just like in December, I started at the Pali Hwy. hairpin turn and set off on the Demo Trail. This time, however, I stayed on the demo trail instead of heading down Piliwale Ridge. Not far past the Piliwale junction, misty rain swept over Maunawili Valley. Fortunately, the shower was light and brief, so the trail wasn't rendered a sloppy mess. No complaint about that from me.

I reached the junction with the connnector trail about 40 minutes after leaving my car and headed down the connector without pause. I was carrying a liter of water and can of Vienna sausage in my pack in case I got hungry or thirsty, and as things transpired, all I needed during the two hours I was hiking was a sip of H20.

It didn't take long (maybe ten minutes?) to reach the signed junction with the spur trail that led to Maunawili Falls, and thereafter I began looking for the cross country trail. About 100 meters makai of the signed junction, a distinct trail veered to the left off the main the trail. Very shortly, the trail transitioned into a dirt road, likely created by the power company to access powerline poles in the area. If you look at the map I mentioned earlier, this dirt road is visible on it, starting at the second red dot to the right of the "Junction with the trail to the falls" and heading in a northeast direction.

Today I followed this road for a couple hundred meters as it descended toward Omao Stream. As I headed down the road, the sound of barking dogs grew louder and I stopped in my tracks when I saw someone working in a ditch alongside the road about 100 meters ahead. I'm not sure who this person was, maybe a farmer, and not wanting a confrontation, I backtracked up the road for maybe 30-40 meters until I was out of sight.

At that point, I looked for the path of least resistance to continue over toward Piliwale Ridge, and I found a decent route down a semi-steep slope covered with a smattering of hau. There was no apparent trail down the slope, but the way was mostly clear and I descended without a problem. When I bottomed out, I skirted along the remnants of an old rock wall/terrace (ancient Hawaiian?) and then found myself on the bank of Omao Stream, a quaint babbling brook. Since the bank was a bit steep at the point I reached it, I headed upstream for about 50 meters, following a distinct trail, before finding a place where I could easily descend to the stream and cross it.

On the far bank, I spotted some old ribbons but no clear sign of a trail. The hillside above the far bank included a bit of a hau tangle, but the hau wasn't too thick and I was able to duck and weave my way through it fairly easily.

Continuing to ascend to the crest of the spur ridge on the far bank of the stream, I emerged into an open area and an obvious trail. Turning left to follow the trail, I arrived at the base of a set powerline poles. Was I on Piliwale Ridge? It seemed too soon. I hadn't hiked cross country far enough. It turned out my suspicions were correct. This wasn't Piliwale, a fact I verified when I could see it a quarter mile or so to the north from a vantage point just past the powerline poles.

From the powerline poles, I followed a dirt road that began heading upridge initially and then veered right to descend toward Palapu Stream. While hiking down the dirt road, I spotted ribbons marking a trail on the left. Figuring the road would likely lead me to a farm (and a possible confrontation), I left the road to follow the trail, which turned out to be well marked and fairly well cleared.

Continuing on a generally northern tact toward Piliwale, I crossed two (or was it three?) little brooks. One of them was Palapu Stream but I'm not sure which. A dark hillside covered with guava was the giveaway that I had reached Piliwale Ridge in the area of the watertank just above the homes on Lopaka Place.

I climbed the hillside, then turned left to follow a steep trail that ascended a spur adjacent to the watertank access road. Thereafter, the rest of the hike was a huff-n-puffer up Piliwale Ridge and then a return to my car on the demo trail.

In all, this was a nice little hike that is near where I live, is devoid of walking on paved roads, and is a loop. All pluses. I'll surely do it again. Mahalo to Art for providing the info.

Hike on,


Reply From: Markeshort@cs.com (Mark Short)

There is a trail that starts at the first sharp right on the road up to the water tank (you go left). You then soon cross a dirt road, then another dirt road, then down a hill cross a stream and up a hill to the Falls trail. This is pretty much a straight line with the trail becoming faint at times. You then continue up connector trail to demo trail then down Piliwale to your car. This allows you to park in a safer area and avoid the muddy and over used lower section of the falls trail.

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