Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 10:21:49 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie (firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Maunawili Falls/connector Trail... Pau Hana
With the window slowly closing on Pau Hana hiking season (the sun set on Oahu yesterday at 6:27 p.m.) and the desire to get some exercise before doing chores at the HTM clubhouse, I reviewed my trail list for a hike I hadn't done in a while. Maunawili Falls fit the bill and was on the way to the clubhouse.
I drove up the Pali Hwy northbound, descended through the twin tunnels and at the third traffic light turned right onto A'uloa Road. Took the left fork onto Maunawili Road and stopped at Maunawili Valley Park to change clothes. The men's bathroom was noticeably clean. Most of the park restrooms I've used in route to pau hana hikes in the past did't fall into this category.
Proceeded to the Maunawili Estates subdivision parking on Aloha Oe Drive. At 4:50 p.m. I started jogged up a narrow section of Maunawili Road and went left at a junction (a DLNR Na Ala Hele sign clearly marks the way to the trailhead).
Reached the trailhead at 4:53 p.m. in the shadow of triple-peaked Olomana. I expected a wet, muddy footpath but found a dry (except near the stream crossings), wide one instead as I tramped through a forest. Forded Maunawili Stream three times taking pleasure from the sweet fragrance of the ginger plants in bloom. Noticed many banana plants and some tall royal palm trees along the route as well. Gained elevation gradually over dirt steps backed (reenforced) by guava trunks and tar colored slabs through guava, ironwood and paperbark trees.
The trail continued to climb out of the forest and eventually I arrived at a junction. Went right and continued asending toward the Ko'olau Mountain Range. Massive Mount Olympus could be seen on the left as well as Piliwale Ridge on the far right. Paused to study the windward ridge leading up to the summit of the peak named after the greek god said to be a right of passage in years past for elite HTM'ers.
Further ahead, the trail leveled off and featured a nice open stretch. Wingo's sedan sized rock and lone ironwood along the crest came into view. Recognized Ohia trees just below the footpath on the right with their cherry red flowers and the sickle shaped leaves of a large Koa tree also caught my eye. Sat down on a tree trunk shaped like a chair and enjoyed the unobstructed view of the Ko'olau Range, awesome mountain grandeur! Four 1000 foot vertical waterfall shoots were especially prominent. Completed the final climb to the junction with the Maunawili Demo Trail (aka Ko'olaupoko) at 5:25 p.m. Next, I walked down the demo trail a short distance toward the Pali Hwy hairpin turn and sat down in a small grassy tract to marvel at the sheer fluted cliffs and vertical waterfall shoots (take a look at the photo on the front cover of Ball's "Hiker's Guide"). Konahuanui was socked in.
Twenty minutes later I got up and returned to the connector trail. Once again I delighted in the wonderful level stretch on the ridge in the middle of beautiful, lush Maunawili Valley. Mount Olomana was dead ahead; Waimanalo Bay, Rabbit Island and Kaupo Cliffs were visible to the east in the distance; "Bear Claw" ridge coming down from Pu'u O'Kona (elev. 2,200 ft), the incredibly steep ridge rising up to Pu'u Lanipo and Palikea above Ka'au Crater got my attention as did the Mokapu Peninsula toward Kaneohe.
Arrived at the junction with the falls trail around 6 p.m. "What goes down must come up!" I told myself but I felt good and decided to check out the falls before heading back to the trailhead. Descended steeply past an erosion recovery area protected by a wire fence, baby ti leaf plants covered much of the soil. Crossed the stream and traveled on the right side of it through bamboo until a large, deep pool blocked further hiking progress. Removed my shoes and socks and breast stroked through the body of water. Climbed to the left (not steeply) of the first waterfall which had a small pool above it. The path leveled off and led to a second, twin waterfall. Swam naked in a swimming hole below the twin waterfall for a few minutes then put my clothes back on and dropped down to the first pool.
Departed the spot at 6:26 p.m. Forded the stream, ascended to the junction with the connector trail and descended gradually to the forest. Upon entering the canopy I slowed my pace due to the increase in darkness. Emerged from the woods at 6:44 p.m., jogged back to my car reaching it at 6:48 p.m.
Notes: The Maunawili Falls Trail used to be closed. In the past, neighborhood kids would sneak through people's backyards to get to it. Thanks to the DLNR Na Ala Hele, legal access to the trail was established. Hopefully, the organization will facilitate improved access to other trails on Oahu. A big mahalo also belongs to volunteers of the Sierra Club who worked hard to improve the falls trail and recently completed the connector trail. The vistas from the middle of the valley are superb of the Ko'olau Range, Olomana, and the surrounding valley. It is possible to do a loop either from/to the Pali Hwy hairpin or Pali Lookout. Although more difficult, the ascent from the valley floor toward the sheer fluted cliffs of the Ko'olaus is outstanding. This trail makes for an ideal keiki hike as well.