OHE July 28, 1997 (d)

Mae Moriwaki (mae@hawaii.edu) contributes the following:
This past Sunday, Jim, Tom & myself decided to take advantage of a beautiful day to visit the waterfalls at Malaekahana. The trail starts off with a long roadwalk (which can be extremely muddy--horses travel the path frequently) and turns into a rather hot & dusty climb. However, the views are beautiful-- you can see Laie Pt. & environs below, and the Laie trail to the left, and what we think is the old Kahuku trail to the right (HEY! has anyone done the old Kahuku trail? I am *very* interested in start/finish point, condition of trail etc. anything)

Anyway, after the hot, dusty beginning, the trail turns into a cool corridor of strawberry guava. You'll see a blue taped trail--this leads to a section of the old Malaekahana trail (if you're interested, try it--it leads back to the trail you're on now--but it is pretty overgrown) Keep on going up the ridge til you see a whole bunch of pink tape-- the trail to the right goes down to the waterfalls; the trail you're on goes to the summit (haven't done it, but heard it's overgrown).

We went down to the waterfalls--lovely. Explore the area--it is paradise.

Will be going to Big Island 7/29. Am not doing anything as ambitious as Halape, but am hoping to sneak in a little bit of hiking in between family stuff.


Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net) replied:

I understand that HTMC used to do Kahuku, but must be 40+ years ago, no one is around to even talk about it :)

It seems that you can access the trailhead by keeping walking on the wide trail instead of turning up Malaekahana. Don't know if you will be harassed by the military or what. The top of Kahuku is near to the endpoint of the "Pupukea" hike, and people have checked that out.

We did it in 1995.

Malaekahana trail is the trail parallel to the better known Laie trail, and both go from Laie up to the Koolau summit.

There is yet another trail, Kahuku, that is also parallel to them, but Kahuku trailhead is located in forbidden territory.

Malaekahana and Kahuku have not been hiked by clubs for at least 30 years.

In 1995, the Boy Scouts started clearing the lower section of Malaekahana, and the hiking club took over the middle and upper sections. Eventually, we made one big push and got to the top.

Start in the same place as the Laie trail. Just before Laie trail turns left to go fairly steeply uphill, turn right on the jeep road and keep going. There are some forks, and the ribbon should be followed. After half an hour, the trail veers off from the road to go uphill, and there is a ribbon there.

It soon goes through a wide eroded slope. After half an hour or so of hot, dry hiking, we come to a wide turn-around spot for vehicles. The foot-trail continues to the right.

Soon it goes through a guava forest, which we hacked through by brute force. It seems on the map that the original trail goes on the hillside rather than on the ridge top, but it turned out to be easier to hack through the forest on the ridge top than to hunt for the old trail further down. In maybe an hour it comes to an intersection with a trail that goes down on the right, which goes down to the valley, a stream, and a waterfall. I never went down and don't know about this interlude.

Continue on the ridge to get to the Koolau summit. Again, our hacked out trail always stays on the ridge top, while the map shows some detours lower down along the hillside, which are too difficult to find and clear. After another hour we come to a high point, and the correct trail goes to the left and fairly steeply down to a saddle. Some of us explored to the right, but it does not seem to lead anywhere. Go down and then go back up again, many, many times. It takes about two and half hours to get to the top. Near the top, the vegetation gets sparser, and one can identify the original trail better, here and there.

There is a final hill to climb and then we go down the hill on the other side, and suddenly we come upon the summit trail. This is a truly desolate spot, for it is on a plateau, and we look around and cannot see anything but ridges, valleys and the ocean. We cannot see any houses in all directions.

We turned left on the Koolau Summit Trail towards Laie trail. The summit trail is mostly passable in this section. It takes an hour to get to a flat muddy hollow, and a steep climb from the hollow to get to the top of the Laie trail. It is easy to remember, for this is the only place where there is a steep climb on the Summit Trail.

The top of Laie is a hole in the ground, where shelter from high winds can be sought if there are high winds. From there it is some 3 hours down to your cars below. You will find Laie to be wide open and very easy walking by comparison after going through Malaekahana on the way up.


Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu) replied:

The summit of the Kahuku trail is located very near to where the HTMC terminates its Pupukea Summit hike (the lunchspot I referred to in my recent hike-from-hell write-up). Yesterday, Pat and I passed a faint trail that we thought was the topping out point of Kahuku. If it's anything like the segment of summit trail we did, be prepared for a bear of a hike (or worse). But then you can always invite Pat Rorie, the human battering ram, to come along with you. :-)

Reaching the summit on the Malaekahana Trail is also supposedly very taxing. HTMC vet Ken Suzuki, a hiking slouch by no means, told me it took him a half dozen attempts before he finally reached the Koolau crest via Malaekahana.


Mae Moriwaki (mae@hawaii.edu) responded:

Hey guys--

For myself, I would LOVE to have y'all going up Kahuku with us. However, Jim is sort of a loner hiker (he tolerates me because I'm the cook on camping trips). He is kind of obsessed w/Kahuku & his personality type would want to do it on his own.


There is no reason why, um, some intrepid hiking types couldn't make their way up (or down) the trail first. :-)

Of course, going DOWN Pupukea summit is more logical (he hasn't gone down the trail because he doesn't want me stuck half-way, that is, it's a long way back to the top)

Good luck! Kahuku Trail will be conquered!


p.s. be careful around river bed. last time we were there, people started joy-shooting out of nowhere right at us. they didn't know we were there, but that didn't stop my heart from leaping out of my chest. Jim stopped them with a shrill whistle. They smiled weakly at us when we passed. potential disaster, but no one hurt.

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