What a pleasant hike! From Kalama I cut through the Hawaii Kai golf course's driving range area (behind the golfers!) and out through the Ka'iwi scrub to the intersection of the Makapu'u Lighthouse Road. From there I trekked uphill to the lookout. This was a nice warm up for the jaunt.
The trail starts across the highway from the lookout and was quite clear. The slope is not severe and the views out towards Manana and Kaohikaipu islands were great even at the low elevations. In about a half hour I was on the ridge (about 700 feet?) behind Sea Life Park, peering down through my binoculars at the critters in their tanks and the folks watching the critters, and the critters watching the folks that were watching....you get the idea. A couple of frigate birds came to visit and eye me.
Pushing on, the trail steepened a bit but nothing too daunting and within 40 minutes I got to the not quite famous "Rat Hole", the hole in the ridgeline that you can see from the parking area at Makapu'u Beach park. Right after the Rat Hole you climb down a short but relatively steep decline, across a flat area and then up the big hill behind Kalama Valley. That hill is a puffer! It's not difficult and not that long a climb but it sure gets the lungs in high gear. As I neared the top I met a guy who looked to be in his 60's wearing only a speedo bathing suit and boots clambering down the rocks in the opposite direction. He said "howdy" and moved on leaving me with my jaw at waist level.
As the hill is crested there are terrific 360 degree views. By this time the afternoon winds had picked up and some of the gusts were pretty powerful. After the big hill, the rest of the hike was duck soup. Down from the hill you pass through thick scrub--the trail is visible but the vegetation was over my head.
I checked out Bishop Estates' dilapidated buildings and wandered over to the hang glider launching pad. Million dollar views across Waimanalo side. This was a great spot to have a break and rest for the descent down Kamehame Ridge. If I had more time I would have liked to continue to the old missle site and maybe further along the summit trail but it was time to go home.
No big deal about the return--heel and toe it down Kamehame Drive and then back to Kalama. In all it was maybe a 5 miles roundtrip with enough ups and downs to remind you that you got some exercise. Trail conditions were good although somewhat overgrown in the area near the old buildings. The views along the entire length of the trail are outstanding--instant gratification! Soon I hope to repeat the trek but to continue at least to Kamiloiki and perhaps sometime to the Tom Tom trail which I have never been on. How difficult is the Tom Tom?
All in all this is a hike I'd recommend for adults with average hiking experience who want to get a reasonable amount of exercise and enjoy some stunning vistas.
Kind regards from the PoiDog.
Thanks, PoiDog. That hike along the southernmost part of the Koolaus is among my favorites. Your write-up helped me re-relive some nice memories.
Wing Ng, Chris Thomas, Bill Melemai, Bill's son Willie, and I hiked from the Makapu'u lookout to Kaluanui (Mariner's) Ridge in December '96. There is a steep drop after the abandoned tracking station, another at the head of Kamilonui Valley, and a short climb of a cabled section between Tom-Tom and Mariner's Ridge that need to be negotiated. The HTMC did the route (to Tom-Tom) in March so a couple less-obvious twists in the trail should still be marked.
Tom Tom isn't very difficult. After dropping down steeply to the head of Kamilonui, you'll climb up to one then another set of powerline poles. At the latter is the top of Tom-Tom, which at first glance seems like a death-wish proposition but in actuality turns out to be not overly risky. The route down should also be ribboned. The biggest confusion is finding the exit point in the koa haole forest at the bottom. The trail becomes less obvious at that point but I can remember working to the right through the forest until we reached a concrete culvert at the end of Manawaiola Street. We were not hassled by residents in March although some HTMC members were on previous occasions.
Wow! One of my favorite hikes. Remember when SeaLife Park used to have concerts on the weekends? We'd be up there, legs hanging off the cliff behind the park, listening to beautiful music drifting up. Best seats in the house ... and no one besides you except for the eyeballing I'wa and the occasional hang-glider (Eh, brah, you get Grey Poupon?)
Thanks for the report. Brings back nice memories..