In the just released September issue of Honolulu Magazine, writer Alex Bitter takes a look at 20 Great Oahu Hikes. The article divides the trails up by ridge hikes, waterfalls, paths less traveled, hikes with history, and finally, “bad-ass” hikes. The article gives a short description for each trail and offers a few photos, but not much else. I’ve broken down the hikes mentioned in the article here and provide links to individual blog posts that we’ve written. Click on the links for detailed descriptions, photos, and directions to the trailheads. With that said, before you venture out on any of these hikes, please review these tips on hiking safely in Hawaii. Thoughts on Honolulu Magazine Top 20 list? Leave in the comments!
Five Ridges to Tackle
Thoughts: Good choices for ridge hikes. I’m guessing that when they say Makapuu Ridge, that they are referring to the Makapuu-TomTom trail that begins at the Makapuu end of the Koolau Summit Ridge Trail. Whereas Lanipo, Manana, Waimano, and Kuliouou are state maintained trails, Makapuu-TomTom is a non-sanction and non-maintained trail. There are tons of options when it comes to ridge hiking in Hawaii, and these choices are good choices.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
Thoughts: From this list, only Maunawili and Laie Falls are sanctioned trails. Lulumahu is definitely the controversial pick here and definitely a surprise to see mentioned in a major publication. Why a surprise? The waterfall is located on restricted watershed land. The other change is that I’d probably just list Kaau Crater here, rather than have it categorized as a Bad-Ass Hike. However, Kaau Crater is also on restricted Board of Water Supply land. Also, did Maunawili Falls even require a mention here?
The Paths Less Travelled
Thoughts: Kuaokala and Mokuleia definitely are definitely trails less travelled, but, the Pali Puka? Nah, over the last two years or so, the Pali Puka has turned into a trendy mini-extreme hike for those looking for a cheap thrill. Everyone and their grandma knows about the Pali Puka. They’ve also listed Manamana as a mini hike by describing a 45 minute route that will bring you straight to the Crouching Lion. I’d actually recommend Kahekili-Manamana and then place it into the Bad-Ass hikes category. Finally, not really sure why Kuaokala and Mokuleia & Kuaokala are separate picks. The authors should have just combined them, or omitted one. And really, those “firebreak roads” are a bit long and boring.
Hikes with History
- Aiea Loop Trail
- Kamananui Valley Road
- Judd Memorial & Jack Ass Ginger Pool
Thoughts: The shining star here is Kamananui Valley Road. I love that trail and the history behind it. There’s a lot to explore in this valley, you just need to know where to look.
The Bad-Ass Hikes
Thoughts: So this is where I think that the article takes a major nose dive. Honestly, these are three not-so-great choices for the category of Bad-Ass. First off, I really don’t think that Kealia Trail deserves to be labeled as a Bad-Ass Hike. In fact, I even mentioned it in this article on 5 Great Kid Friendly Hiking Trails on Oahu. The switchbacks are tiresome, sure, but you’re supposed to be tired, you’re hiking! If it’s badassery that you’re searching for, then how about choosing Kahekili-Manamana, The Bowman Trail, or maybe a thru hike of the Waianae Summit Trail. Okay, that last one deserves it’s own category labelled extreme.
I think that this article offers a good list of introductory hikes for the person looking for hiking trails beyond just Diamond Head, Lanikai Pillboxes, or Koko Crater. However, I feel as if this article is a missed opportunity. The author makes mention of a few hikes that are a bit taboo to talk about because of restricted access (i.e. Lulumahu, Kaau Crater). I found this to be very surprising coming from a major publication like Honolulu Magazine. If mentioning Lulumahu, then why not make the article entirely about non-sanctioned trails, or maybe have non-sanctioned trails in its own category. My other gripe is the category of Bad-Ass hikes. It looks like they used Stuart Balls as a point of reference for the article, well then, they should have made mention of Kamaileunu, which he describes as one of the most difficult trails on the island. And the fact that Kealia is listed there makes the Bad-Ass category a bit of a sham. Just a few of my thoughts. Maybe we’ll see what we can come up with by putting together our own list using their categories.