Puu Maelieli is one of my favorite trails because it’s short and the views are nothing less than stellar. When I found out that another hiking trail could be accessed just across the street from the Puu Maelieli trailhead, I said to myself, “well, I’ve got to do that one!” And so I did. This trail is officially called Ulupaina and although the view is not as spectacular as Puu Maelieli, it does offer a nice workout.
Joel on the contour trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Flora. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
As far as parking and trailhead access, you can basically follow the same set of directions used to access Puu Maelieli. You’ll once again park on Hui Iwa Street near the McDonalds. After parking your car, you will walk down the hill and toward Kahekili Highway, however, instead of turning left toward the Maelieli trailhead, you will cross Kahekili Highway toward the Valley Temples. Once you’ve crossed the highway, turn left and walk toward the pet cemetery. The pet cemetery runs parallel to the side of Kahekili Highway heading east. Walk to the end of the pet cemetery (across the street, you should see the trailhead to Puu Maelieli). You will literally walk into the bushes at the end of the pet cemetery. Of course, there will be ribbons there waiting for your arrival.
Occasionally, this view pops up as you work your way up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Jungle in Kahuluu? Photo by Coty Gonzales.
The trail is very well marked with pink ribbons. After a few minutes (~5 minutes), you will reach a junction heavily marked with ribbons. Ulupaina is a loop trail, and therefore, no matter whether you choose to go left (clockwise) or right counterclockwise), you will end back at the junction when you finish. On this day, we decided to go left (clockwise). The counterclockwise path is actually very inviting because of the many ribbons that point you in that direction.
Turning left, the path was mostly flat. Actually, I kept thinking about how great it would make as a running trail. Although the trail does narrow at some parts, it is generally very open. Most of the first hour involves contouring the mountain on a flat trail with little noticeable elevation gain.
Joel sitting at the junction that will take you home. To his right is the way back to the pet cemetary. To the left is the way to the powerline lookout. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
This is the same junction that joel is sitting at in the above photo. Go straight up here and it will lead you to the powerline. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
Satellite Station near Haiku Stairs? Photo by Coty Gonzales.
After about 1 hour or 1.5 miles, you will again reach a junction. This time, we hooked a right at the junction. At this point, you will notice that the trail will gain elevation very quickly. From this point, it will be a steep climb up to the ridge line. As you work your way up this steep climb, be sure to occasionally turn around to take in the views of Kaneohe Bay. The views from the top are somewhat obstructed and so the best views might be seen as you work your way up to the top.
Once you’ve reached the ridge line, you will again reach a junction littered heavily with pink ribbons. You can either turn right en route home, or continue straight on the ridgeline toward a powerline at the base of the Koolau Mountain Range. As you walk toward the powerline, look left and hopefully you will be able to make out the satellite station at the top of the Haiku Stairs.
Nice lines. Photo by Coty Gonzales.
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