The Old Pali Road Trail (sometimes called the Old Pali Highway Trail) is one that you can do relatively quickly. If you need an escape but don’t have much time on your hands then you might want to consider hiking the Old Pali Highway.
Directions: To get to this hike simply take H1 east bound from Waikiki. Then take the Pali Highway exit. Since the Nu’uanu Pali State Park Lookout is a popular tourist attraction, there are ample signs for you to follow that will lead you straight to the Pali Lookout parking lot. If you’re not a local resident then parking will cost you $3. Alternatively, you can start from the Ko‘olau Country Club’s parking lot.
Before you venture toward the trailhead, you will be greeted with what most tourist come here for – the Pali Lookout. It was here that in 1795 King Kamehameha and his warriors (which consisted of a fleet of 10,000 soldiers and 960 war canoes) defeated the warriors from Oahu and its then ruler, King Kalanikupule. In doing so, Kamehameha The Great united the Hawaiian islands and became its first unified King. As you stand and stare out towards Kaneohe Bay, know that over 400 men were forced off the Pali’s cliff, a drop of 1,000 feet. Yes, that happened at the Pali Lookout.
Once you’ve completed this tourist trap, it is now time to tackle the Old Pali Highway Trail. Facing the lookout, you will walk to the right of it where you will find a concrete road. If you follow this concrete road you will encounter a sign that says Road Closed. Passing this sign and following this road is by far the easiest way to access the OldPali Highway. Alternatively, you could ask someone to drop you off on the side of the road on the new Pali Highway – granted, you’d have to know the exact access point if you do this route or start at the Ko’olau Country Club. We’ll stick to crossing the Road Closed sign – which you will do at your own risk.
Once you’ve made the decision to ignore the Road Closed sign, simply follow the road down, down, down. As you do so, take in the views to the left of you. You will continue down this road until you reach a dirt path and a sign that marks the start of the Maunawili Trail. Venture to the left of the Maunawili trailhead and towards the new Pali Highway. When we were there, someone had placed some marker ribbons. What you need to look for is a pathway that will lead you under the new Pali Highway. There will be some old wooden stairs to help you through your journey towards the Old Pali Highway.
At this point, you will follow a dirt pathway that will lead you back to Old Pali Highway. Follow this road until you reach a junction in the road with Au’uloa Road – at this point, you will go left. The steps that mark the start of the trail is very near the junction. They won’t be obvious, but they are right behind a concrete slab sticking out the ground and a pole without a sign attached – it should be on the left just before the road curves left. Almost Paradise was smart enough to snap a photo of the slab and pole.
Follow the steps located behind the concrete slab upward. The hike it self is pretty easy and will lead you to a beautiful waterfall. This hike is actually part of a larger trail – The Likelike Trail (but we will save that for another post). To get to the waterfall, follow this path until you reach a gravelled portion, to your left you will see a large tree with markings on it. You want to follow the pathway past this tree. If you follow the trail you were originally on all the way through, you will pass a large water tank and eventually reach the Ko‘olau Country Club’s parking lot (mentioned earlier as an alternative start point). If you reach this point then you missed the waterfall. Retrace your steps back up the trail about 0.3 miles until you reach the tree, then turn right and follow that trail towards the waterfall. Once you reach the waterfall, take your time and enjoy the view. If you face away from the waterfall, you will be treated to a beautiful view of the Ko’olau Range. In total, it should really take no more than 2 hours from the top of the Pali Lookout and back. The trail is a total of 5 miles.
Old Pali Highway Trail Tips:
- Remember to bring $3 for parking (if you’re not a local resident) or even better, bring a local along for the hike.
- Bug repellant is useful for this hike to combat mosquitos.
- Say hi to the chickens that run around the parking lot.
- One final note, remember to bring your camera! On this excursion I forgot my point and shoot and was left with just my iPhone 4. Turns out that the iPhone worked pretty well, but I still wish I had brought my camera.