In the Makiki Valley State Recreation Area there is a trailhead just past the Hawaii Nature Center where one can gain access to an extensive web of mountain hikes known as the Honolulu Mauka Trail System. We were interested in hiking the Makiki Loop Trail. To find this trailhead, make your way to Makiki Heights Drive, then drive up the street until you see a gravel parking lot on the left side of the road. If the lot is full, it’s easy to find street parking.
Walk around the gate and continue up the street past the Hawaii Nature Center on the right. Just after that there are the public restrooms. Turn right into the restroom area, walk past the building, and you will cross a bridge over a stream.
Go to the left and pass a couple of small taro patches. Then you will see the sign for the the Makiki Loop Trail (also note the HUGE Cook Island pine at this junction).
This is actually a loop that incorporates three trails of different names: Kanealole, Makiki Valley and Maunalaha. I’m not really into long, all-day hikes, so just the loop was perfect.
At the start of this hike you have the choice of going to the left, which would be clockwise, or counter-clockwise to the right. It seemed most people like to start at the left. I’ve done both. Either would be fine.
If you go counter-clockwise you will start with a long incline through a eucalyptus forest that goes for about a mile. If you start the opposite way, to the left, you will see a stream along the trail, and this side tends to be wetter, and there are some muddy areas. I had read there might be mosquitos, but that was never an issue for us.
It took my girlfriends and I two and a half hours to walk the four and a half miles from our car and back (according to my “mapmyrun” app). I’m sure it can be done a lot faster; we were definitely on cruise control. We had a newcomer to hiking with us, as this was only her second hike ever, with Diamond Head being her first. So we meandered this novice-level hike at a relaxed pace.
This allowed us to stop and enjoy the diverse fauna along the way. We saw a tree heavily laden with ripe, red lychees. The only problem was that they were about 40 feet up, teasing us and making our mouths water.
We also came across mountain apple trees, and I enjoyed a plump juicy one. We picked some fragrant yellow ginger and stopped to admire all the many kinds of ferns on the forest floor. You will also see groves of bamboo and many indigenous plants.
This is an easy hike, and the trails are clearly marked and well-maintained. Expect to see some nice valley views and hear the songs of the forest birds.
We passed several older men as well as women walking this trail alone. Hiking alone is never recommended, but this town trail offers a nice, quiet and cool place for some exercise. You are mostly under a forest canopy which makes for a refreshing trek. I recommend this tropical forest walk, for which you don’t even have to leave metropolitan Honolulu to enjoy.