OHE January 16, 2000 (Nihoa)

Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 20:01:45 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu)
Subject: Nihoa

Members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club trail maintenance crew met last Sunday morning (1/9) across from Camp Erdman out past Mokuleia to work on the route referred to as Nihoa Gulch, which is a bit of a misnomer since the outing is mostly a ridge hike, with a fairly hefty climb right from the start and just a small part actually in Nihoa.

In addition to myself and a new volunteer whose name I neglected to remember, folks in attendance included Mabel Kekina, Ken Suzuki, Carole K. Moon, June Miyasato, Bill Gorst, Grant Oka, Georgina Oka, Steve Becker, Kim Roy, Judy Roy, and Steve Poor (who'll coordinate the club outing on 1/23).

We met at 8 a.m. at the gravel lot across from Erdman. After readying our gear and listening to pre-outing instructions from Mabel, we set off through a forest of koa haole, made much greener than usual because of recent rains. The trail leads to the base of the mountain then heads up, basically in a left to right diagonal across the face of the massive escarpment. In some lower sections, guiding the way are old cables and rails, placed long ago by Boy Scouts, the Erdman staff, or who knows who.

At mid-mountain there is a nice lookout with views of Erdman and the Mokuleia coast. We paused here for a few minutes to take in the scenery. Steep climbing continued, with old ribbons indicating the right course. There is a cable section across a narrow shelf below a rockface then right afterward a climb to a higher lookout point where we again paused to enjoy the views. As we rested there, a one-person mini helicopter whizzed by at about our level of elevation, bound for Kaena Point.

From the higher lookout, the top of the mountain is acquired in a few minutes. An ironwood grove at the top offers a nice place to rest. Thereafter, the trail meanders up a broad ridge occasionally scarred by erosion and topped with dryland vegetation. In about half a mile, the trail transitions into a jeep road just past a water collection structure (used for game birds) on the right.

While the jeep road heads off to the right toward Kaena, we continued straight ahead up the ridge. About ten minutes mauka of the water structure, we opened up a trail on a ridge that extends to the upper Kuaokala road just to the right of a high pu'u that is used as a lunchspot. This ridge is now substantially marked but may not be so after the club hike. On the hike, Steve will have the group follow the road as it heads left to contour in and out of a first then a second gulch. The second is Nihoa and there is a trail that heads up it to eventually gain the lunchspot pu'u.

After lunch, Steve will have the group descend the trail we just opened up and then head back down past the water structure, the broad dry ridge, and then the trail down the pali to Erdman.

I have a map of the route at


The blue dot is the place where we left the road to open a trail up the west side of the loop. The southernmost point on the map is the lunchspot pu'u. The east side of the loop is, for the most part, up Nihoa Gulch. Steve will have the club hikers do the loop in a clockwise manner.

Imua HTMC!


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