View just a bit east of Aiea summit
I met Troy and Nate when I first did Laie a few months ago as they were on their way to Malaekahana. I would find Troy again on Facebook to discuss future hikes and we landed on a Ko’olau crossover. We decided to do Aiea to Red Hill. As I had previously done Red Hill using the Godek Trail, and Nate had done all of Aiea before, this seemed like a perfect crossover for us. This hike would take us to the Aiea summit, the hidden stairs, Halawa summit, Red Hill summit and down into Moanalua Valley using the Godek-Jaskulski trail.
View from the bottom of the saddle not too far from Aiea summit
We first all met at Moanalua Park, where we left Nate’s truck, and then we all went to Aiea in Troy’s car.
Directions for Aiea:
At Punchbowl St. get on Lunalilo Fwy (H-1) heading ‘ewa (west). Near Middle St. keep left on Rte 78 west (exit 19B, Moanalua Rd.) to ‘Aiea. While descending Red Hill, take the exit marked Hālawa-Stadium. At the end of the long off-ramp continue straight on Ulunē St. At the road end turn right on ‘Aiea Heights Dr. Pass ‘Aiea High School on the left. Climb gradually through ‘Aiea Heights subdivision. Reach the entrance to Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area. Drive past the heiau and the camping area to the upper lot and park there (elevation 1,080 feet). At the trailhead are rest rooms and drinking water.
Bus: Route 11 to ‘Aiea Heights Dr. and Ka‘amilo St. Walk 2.0 miles along ‘Aiea Heights Dr. and through the recreation area to the trailhead. Route 74 goes farther up ‘Aiea Heights Dr., but it only runs on weekday mornings and afternoons.
Ball, Stuart M., Jr. (2000-09-01). The Hikers Guide to the O’ahu, Rev. Ed. (Kindle Locations 1768-1779). Latitude 20. Kindle Edition.
One thing to note is that Aiea Park closes around 8 PM, maybe earlier. If you do plan on a long crossover, you may want to park further down the street unless you don’t mind leaving your car in the park overnight (which Troy would end up doing).
From the parking lot, the trail for both Aiea loop and Ridge starts left of the restrooms. The trail is wide open and easy to follow. The hike to the ridge is long and gradual and, while it is 6 miles long, is fairly easy. As you continue on the trail, you may find some ribbons on the left, this would be the start of the Kalauao trail. Further on, you will see some ribbons on the right side, this creates a loop back to the beginning by bisecting the whole Aiea Loop.
After about 1.5 miles of walking from the beginning, the trail will junction. If you continue right, you will continue the Aiea loop trail. Go left to continue the ridge hike. After making a left, you will be near the edge of the ridge. Turn left and you will see another junction shortly. Take a right here and continue all the way to the Aiea Ridge summit.
Troy and the Hidden Stairs
At the Aiea Ridge summit, find ribbons on the left side that will take you to the Ko’olau summit trail. Make a right here and you will be on your way to Red Hill. Shortly after you start the summit hike, you will find a fenced area. Stay on the left side of this area as going right will take you to the Leeward side and away from your destination. If you have clear weather, the crossover will be obvious. If you are socked in, however, the best way to stay on the trail would be to stay on the Windward side as much as possible. If you are on the Leeward side for too long, it may be time to backtrack and reassess.
It took us 3 hours to summit Aiea and just under 2.5 hours to get to the hidden stairs. The sections between these 2 areas have some overgrown areas and will slow down progress. Although there is nothing too difficult except for excessive mud. You will never be too close to the edge to worry about falling off. There will also be plenty of plants that you can use for support as you climb.
Orange Lehua (Alani)
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