Puu Pia: An Easy Stroll In The Back of Manoa Valley

Puu Pia, a short hike located in the rear of Manoa Valley, has been on my list of to-do hikes for a while now. This trail is one of the many hiking trails that make up the Honolulu Mauka Trail System. With a free Saturday afternoon and the onset of a nasty seasonal cold rearing it’s ugly head, I decided to knock out one more hike before I would be relegated to the bed. Puu Pia turned out to be the perfect choice.

Grounded. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Grounded. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

He loves Manoa. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

He loves Manoa. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

The Puu Pia trailhead is located in the same location as the Kolowalu Trail. Those interested in a steep climb up to Mount Olympus (Awaawaloa), or want to continue on to Waahila Ridge, can choose to take the Koowalu Trail. On this day, we decided to hop on the Puu Pia trail. Unlike Kolowalu, Puu Pia offers a very gradual climb to its lookout point. It’s so short that you should really take your time on this trail, rather than speed through it. My GPS indicated that, roudtrip, Puu Pia was an easy 1.66 miles. Total elevation gain? 400 feet.

Tree. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Tree. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Look up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Look up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

In the middle. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

In the middle. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Joel and I took our time as we walked through the thickly forested trail. This offered us with the perfect opportunity to practice shooting in low-light conditions. Eventually, you will reach the exposed portion of the hike, as you make your way to the top of Puu Pia. Despite being at a relatively low elevation, you still get an amazing 360 degree view of Manoa Valley. On a rainy day, you would be able to see the various waterfalls of Manoa Valley, most notably, Manoa Falls (also see Manoa Falls revisited). From the top, you also get a view of the Lyon Arboretum.

Once at the top of Puu Pia, we munched on some nuts and the greatest non-healthy (but sounds healthy) snack food ever, Calbee Saya Snow Pea Crisps. We had the hill to ourselves for about 30 minutes before a pair of gentleman showed up. We decided to let them enjoy the views and began our descent back down to Alani Drive. On our way down, we met an older fellow who stopped to tell of this amazingly friendly bird that he saw on the trailhead sign. He said that it was black with a yellow/orange belly. I knew that he was talking about the very friendly Shama Thrush. The shama was there waiting for us when we reached the trailhead.

Another hike completed and one to check off of my to-do list. Puu Pia was definitely not the most rugged, excruciating, or demanding hike that I have been on. However, it was enjoyable and offered yet another perspective of Manoa Valley. I’ll probably return on a rainy day so that I can see the Manoa waterfalls flowing from a distance.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales and Joel Sabugo.

Total Distance: 1.66 miles

Total Time: 1 hour hour roundtrip.

Puu Pia Trail Tips:

  • Like most Manoa hikes, this trail can get muddy. Come prepared with appropriate footwear.
  • A nice trail to bring kids on.
  • If you’ve got a limited amount of time on your hands, then Puu Pia is a good choice.

Directions to the Puu Pia Trailhead: Head towards the back for Manoa by going to the end of East Manoa Road. At the end, make a left on Alani Dr. and go to the end of the street to where it intersects with Woodlawn Drive. Park along the road in this area. Follow the sign on the road to the trailhead.

Blue sky and Manoa green. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Blue sky and Manoa green. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Camera guy. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Camera guy. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking towards Manoa Falls. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Looking towards Manoa Falls. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Chilloing at the summit clearing. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Chilloing at the summit clearing. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Shama Thrush hanging out at the traihead, waiting for us to finish. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Shama Thrush hanging out at the traihead, waiting for us to finish. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

6 comments

    • I’m sure this trail is way too easy for you, Punynari! LOL! But yes, it’s a fun little trail that gives you nice views of Manoa. I read on the Na Ala Hele website that they are thinking of connecting Puu Pia to Manoa Falls. That would be interesting.

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