manoa falls hike with the hubs and the pooch: hot august mud baths for all!

August 27, 2010: Manoa Falls Trail + Aihulama Trail + Pauoa Flats Trail

We went hiking this past weekend at Manoa Falls and we had a super blast!  It was so much fun.

We’ve done this trail before, and it’s becoming a favorite of our’s.  It’s very shaded and cool, muddy, and if you take the Aihulama Trail up to the Pauoa Flats Trail, you can get a workout in for sure!  We did lots of trail running, and in some parts the steepness + mud = enough or a workout.  My legs were tight/sore for a day or two afterwards.

The short hike from the parking lot to the Falls is easy, crowded, muddy, and fun.  I say it’s easy because it’s a very well set trail, that’s very public.  But, it can be slippery due to the mud.  We saw older folks with canes doing it, but that kinda worried me!  The fall and slipping potential seems high.  Otherwise, it’s an easy trail! We brought JJ, our 30-lb doggie, along for the hike and he had a great ole time. Very muddy.

The parts of the trail that go past the falls, well that’s a different story.  That’s when the difficulty level pics up!  Jumping over rocks and logs, roots and lots of mud, puddles, and steep inclines. In some places the trail gets super narrow, and it can be kinda scary (there are steep drop offs to one side).  But it’s very shaded, and the higher you go – the prettier the views are!

In an email to a friend, here’s what I had to say:

It’s a GREAT hike to do!  Very muddy, has great views, and it can be pretty challenging if you go all the way up… and you get a bit of everything: waterfalls, bamboo forests, strawberry guava trees, rainforest, zig-zags up the mountain (and eventually back down), huge tree roots, rocky paths, puddles!  And an awesome lookout at the top, with some beautiful views that peek out here and there along the way.  It’s like a sampler platter, you get a taste of everything!


Now, because I’m lazy… here’s just a big blob of pics from last Saturday of Me, Duggs, and our Pooch JJ hiking!  Notice how muddy we all got, whew:


Directions: Just use your GPS to get you to the Lyon Arboretum: 3860 Manoa Road, Honolulu

Note: You can park at the Arboretum for free, but the time we tried to do that, the people working there were total jerks to us!  You have to check into a log, they press you for a donation anyways, and they claim that there’s no dogs allowed there.  But on the Trails, you can totally have dogs.  They’re a pain.

So use your GPS to go to Lyon.  The trail head is right by there!  You’ll be on a really residential road, Manoa Road.  But stay on Manos road and go past all the houses and follow it up this hill that’s kinda twisty.  You’ll pass under this walking bridge that connects the forest to a Chinese Food restaurant (I think it’s called “Tree Top” or something like that).  Right past the restaurant is a dirt lot that usually has attendants who charge $5 for parking.  We’ve just done that every time.  It’s safe and easy.  And bonus!  They’ve recently added these awesome hoses and brushes anyone can use to get the mud off of you after your hike.  Yay!

The Trail Head is a short walk from the parking lot, it’s very easy to see and you should see lots of people coming and going anyways.  It’s a popular trail for sure!

Some info on the Trails we got from other sites:

  1. The Aihualama Trail begins at Manoa Falls, skirts the upper end of Manoa Valley, then heads steeply up to Pauoa Flats and a stunning overlook. The route passes through groves of bamboo, koa, eucalyptus and enormous banyan trees. The are great views across the valley to Waikiki and Diamond Head. From the Nuuanu Overlook at the trail ’s end are panoramic vistas overlooking the Nuuanu Valley and the rugged Koolau Mountains.  Read more at Aihualama Trail to Nuuanu Overlook | Honolulu Hawaii Hikes | Trails.com




hiking picnic date: judd and nu’uanu trails

Judd Trail –> Nu’uanau Trail, Hiking and Picnic Date with Duggs, 9-Jun-2011

(note: i originally published an unfinished version of this post on july 19, 2011 – i’m publishing the finished version on july 30.  sorry about my techie fail!)

Saturday a week ago, my sweetie and I went on a super fun hiking date;  I picked the trail and Duggs packed the picnic.

Judd Trail is close to the Pali lookout and seems to be connected or near to the Manoa Falls Trails.  We had a really fun day, spending about five hours or so on the trails.  We did a little bit of running, but mostly we took our time, stopped for photo-ops, chit chatted, and of course we shared a picnic lunch at the top.  It was an awesome day!

view from the top

Duggs and I have done the Manoa Falls hike and the Pauoa Flats trail, and loved the lush bamboo forest and the breathtaking views.  We went on the Judd Trail hike hoping for something similar; while we really enjoyed the hike, it wasn’t as scenic as others we’ve done.  Lots of residential backdrops kinda kill the mood.  We could see fences and houses.  Once we got to the Jackass Ginger Swimming Hole (a small waterfall drops into this tiny, but deep, swimming hole) we were practically in someone’s backyard.  The Nu’uanu Trail is a lot better: it’s higher and away from housing, so once we got there we felt like we were actually in some wilderness.

Overall, the trails really are  beautiful, don’t get me wrong… living in Hawaii can really spoil a person!  We’re picky now.  (And I love that getting-away-from-the-real-world aspect of hiking, so being too close to homes is a buzzkill fer sure).

The hike was very fun for the pooch!  He was so excited to go (of course).

excited pooch can't wait to go hike!

He loves running, playing in the mud, jumping around on steeper parts of trails.  He does really well with some of the more challenging/technical parts of hikes- like climbing/jumping over rocks or logs.  He’s good at scrambling!

We did however, find a hiking weakness that JayJers has: river crossings.  He was so terrified and wouldn’t even try!  Duggs had to literally carry him across, which was both funny and challenging.  The water was moving pretty fast, making the rocks super slippery.

scaredy pooch

duggs carries the doggie

Judd Trail is a short one, and hugs the side of a small creek.  There’s a river crossing in the beginning and then you just follow the water.  The trail is pretty narrow and eventually gets you to the swimming hole (Jackass Ginger).   If you just stick to Judd, you’d have an easy, short day.

the pooch and the duggs happily hiking

Jackass Ginger Swimming Hole has a small waterfall that feeds into it.  It’s cute, but it’s too public!  One edge of the water is forest, the other a neighborhood.  Chain-link fences and kids’ swingsets don’t really give you that ahh, nature! feel.

fences are the opposite of freedom

There were people already there and swimming both times we passed it (on the way up and on the way down), so we didn’t really get any pics.   I found a pic online though, to give you an idea:

i found this on a google image search - jackass ginger

We decided to keep going, taking the next trail head we came to.  Nu’uanu branches off and keeps taking the hiker towards the tops of the mountains.  Going up!

this a way!

Nu’uanu Trail was way more our speed.  Like a lot of the trails in this part of the off-Pali hiking we’ve done, it seems like you gotta take one trail to get to another.  So thus, Judd leads to the start of Nu’uanu.

No backyards to make it seem like tresspassing, we were able to relax a lot more. The hike is covered by tall treetops, so we spent the day happily in the shade.  Eveery now and then we’ll get a little peek at some views.  The trail zig zags up the mountain, so it’s lots of back and forthing.  At time the incline was hardly noticeable, at others there was a pretty decent grade.

tall, tall, treetops

petting break!

We even did some trail running.  For the record, running on trails is a thousand times more fun than running on the road!  I wish I had done crosscountry in high school, man, I missed out (I ran track as cross-training for swim team)!   Running was fun, but my clumsiness supersedes fun ninety-nine percent of the time: I totally tripped!

my owwie! (this actually got infected, i suspect due to the fact that i tripped and fell in some stagnant water. icks!)

We kept moving up and just had a really fun time.  The trail is well-marked, clear and wide.  There are enough roots, twisty turns, and short-cuts (with off-limits signs, oops) to keep it interesting.

a peek at the peaks

we could see way past waikiki from here

as we got higher up the trees thinned out and allowed us these kinds of views. breathtaking, amazing, and fun... but almost like we were peeking out through a curtain of foliage.

When we got to a bench we found near the top, we had a lovely picnic!  It was really charming.

the bench we found

i'm a model! really! actually... duggs was setting up the self-timer

family photo !

Now, it’s lunch time!!

our lovely lunch: sammies, juice boxes, and granola bars! (we kept all our trash and threw it out at home, duh)

the pooch had lunch and water too

sharing with my lil' bff

After re-fueling it was time to head back down.   There wasn’t a spot that we found to be a clear-cut “peak.”  We went on up past the bench for about thirty minutes, but nothing felt difinitive – it seemed like we could have kept going for hours.  I think that the trails along the ridge just keep going and it’s how all these different trails connect.  No point is the unequivocal top of the trail; as you’re hiking there are so many other mountains you can see in all directions and it’s easy to tell where your eye-level is… you start out seeing the bottoms of the other mountains when you look out, when we were at this bench our eye-level to neighboring green giants felt way closer to the tops than the bottoms, so we knew the end of the trail was near.  For a minute we entertained the idea that maybe the trail was a loop and we should just keep going.  But time wasn’t on our side, so we decided to play it safe and make it to the car before nightfall.

We actually started to get a little drizzle going on.  After an afternoon in the heat, a little rain felt nice.   Once we got back into the thick of the trail, trees offered a lot of protection from the rain and we couldn’t really feel any drip drops at all.

happy hippie hiker

is this where porcupines come from?

The way back down was really easy going and fun.  We chatted and JJ had fun re-marking where he’d already been.  Eventually we found Judd Trail again, and we followed to water back to the start.

back down to sea-level, and literally at stream-level - the bottom of the hike connects us back to judd trail

All in all it was a really fun afternoon.  Skill-wise, it was maybe an intermediate hike?  I guess I wouldn’t call it easy, just because of how long it is, the river crossing and the incline in some sections.  But we had a very breezy time with it.   I don’t think we’ll get to hiking it again, but we’re glad to have done it once.

Need directions to Judd Trail? 

Here are some links that we used:

Directions that I found online somewhere and emailed to myself:
Directions: From Waikiki, head west on the H-1 Freeway. Then go north on the Pali Hwy (Hwy 61) for about 2.5 miles to Nu’uanu Pali Drive, where there’s a traffic light. Turn right onto Nu’uanu Pali Drive (a residential street which eventually winds through a shady forest). In about a mile, at a bridge on a hairpin turn, there’s a rain-fed waterfall behind a fence (this is not Jackass Ginger Pool). Continue to a small pullout (parking available for two cars) just before the next bridge, where a small sign indicates theJudd Trail.

this is the start of the hike - it's a wide open space right off the side of the road

this is where we parked - just to give anyone going an idea of what it looks like


sunrise hike: makapu’u point lighthouse

A week ago on April 30th, a group of gal pals gave me insane pleasure by accompanying me on greeting the sun at the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse.   On the east side of O’ahu, this hike juts out into the Pacific Ocean and gives an incredible panoramic view of the sunrise.

The “hike” itself is actually a paved, albeit steep, trail that zig zags up the ridge and peaks at a fenced-off ledge near the lighthouse.  Actually accessing the lighthouse isn’t possible.   Not only is the walk deceptively steep, but there’s no shelter or shade for most of the path.   Carly and I made the mistake of checking it out at noon one day, and we just fried.  So not only does early early morning offer a spectacle of seeing the sun come up over the waves, it’s more comfy too.   During whale season, the Makapu’u Point trail is known for whale watching, so rad!

Here are the pics:

hiking and yoga, pillbox in lanikai

Friday, April 29th, 2011 – Lanikai, O’ahu, Hawai’i – PILLBOX HIKE

warrior pose to the pacific ocean. so awesome.

Climbing and Stretching 

Carlita, Sydney and I had a super fun morning about a week ago.  We hiked the Pillbox trail overlooking Lanikai Beach and when we got to the first “pillbox,” Sydney, a new graduate from Gaia Flow Yoga in Dallas, led us in a nice yoga flow (concrete lookout buildings line this ridge and their small, white, stature have earned the trail the nickname “pillbox”).

Carly and I have been on this awesome tourist mission to stay busy while our husbands are deployed by seeing as much of the island as we can: hiking, snorkeling, swimming and exploring.   Now our friend Sydney (whose fiance is deployed with Carly’s husband) has just moved to the aina and she’s eager to explore and sight-see too.   The three of us make a great team with our easy-going personalties happily meshing.

By the way, if you’ve ever been curious to know more about these gal pals of mine that I make mention of so frequently, check out their blogs!

Back to actually talking about the Pillbox Yoga day:  We didn’t really wake up too early for this one.  We did it a little bit after the sun came up, maybe around eight in the morning or so.  The hike itself is pretty light, but still fun!   We packed our yoga mats in our backpacks so we could use our hands for the steeper parts of the hike (or just to be handsfree, because handsfree is the best).

me, getting out of the car*

sydney and carly at the trailhead

it is a little steep at the get-go

Luckily the trail wasn’t very crowded at all.  We saw a couple random people, but we didn’t have to compete for space or anything.   This hike is pretty popular for the people who live nearby- lots of folks run up the trail or walk their dogs here.  So we totally lucked out in regards to it being sparsely populated that day.  The weather was really mild as well, so being out in the morning sun felt nice, not too hot.  The whole tone was just so right.

the lanikai islands in the early morning light

super close up of me, the girls in the background climbing higher and higher

some cute friends we met on the path. if we weren't doing yoga i would have brought my pooch. aww man!

it's so amazing that we live here. like, woah!

i ❤ hawaii. this place is so beautiful.

i love the yoga mats, tie dye, waterbottles, awesome scenery... this is just soooo "us"

Once we got to the “pillbox,” we literally hoisted ourselves up there and set up shop.  I don’t think I’d ever done outdoor yoga before.  It was really fun, but there are some weird little things you don’t think about it until you go through it.  The surface we were on was flat-ish.  It had lots of slopes and divits, and it was hard to find a nice even spot to put out a mat on.  And because of the nature of yoga, if you aren’t on a flat surface – you gotta be careful not to hurt yourself.  Luckily we’re all super-not-clumsy and we were, of course, extremely safety-oriented and cautious.

Being so exposed and by the ocean, it was windy up there; we were using everything we could to hold down out mats.  And even then they tried to fly away from us a couple times.  Don’t worry- we were super fast and suffered no loss of equipment.

I’m joking about the little bumps that came up… but really, outdoor yoga is awesome.  It’s just so pure and natural and simple.  I want to keep doing it, that’s for sure.

yeah girl, get on up there

oh hay! you too, go up there!

my little backpack is on the top of the world


taking it all in. this world God made for us is just the most perfect artwork.*

me and carly. she's probably sassing me*

don't they look like the two islands?

these two islands!

Sydney is a lovely yoga instructor.  The only real class I’ve been going to this year is the one on base with the same instructor all the time – so it was nice to mix it up and do a flow in a slightly different way (because every instructor is different).

I didn’t get any pics of us actually doing our yoga practice.  I get really focused on those breathes and the poses, and stepping out to snap pics would have killed my zone.  But, afterwards, we did have some fun trying to do different poses and stretching.  And we met a random guy (Jimmy) who was running the trail and he took some pics for us.  So rad!

i don't know the name of the pose sydney's doing, but it looks hard and fancy!

my carly has mad skills

sydney teaching jimmy a new way to stretch

headstand! awesome!

sydney is stronger than she looks, huh? impressive. *

carlita is graceful *

ooh look, i can play too. my wheel. it's getting better, huh? *

being bendy *

yeah, i'm not really close on this one at all. but i'll get there. now i have another goal to work toward! *

messing around and doing the world's worst chair pose. i really am just joking around and being dumb*

We did a couple group shots and Jimmy graciously took them for us.  I like the way they came out.  I know I’m not nearly on the yogi level of Carly or Sydney, but I try and that’s all that matters:

i love everything about this *

being dorky and silly *

After we got down the mountain, we went into Kailua Town and ate at Aloha Salads.  Oh man. I love Aloha Salads.   If/when I leave here, it’s one of the top five eateries I’ll miss the most.  It’s a chain that’s only out here, they serve big salads made of local ingredients.  After being so nice to my body by hiking and stretching, it just feels good to eat something light, simple, and healthy – ya know?

oh yum


It was such an awesome morning, a really great way to just re-set my intentions of being good to myself, appreciating my surrounding, and just having fun while being active.

Oh.  The pics with the asterisks are ones I stole from Sydney’s facebook album from this day.  That’s all.  ALOHA!



I may have skipped over one teensy detail in this retelling… I slipped on the way down.  For your viewing pleasure:

graceful as always

Now it’s really the end.

makapuu point lighthouse – waimanalo

February 4, 2011 – Waimanalo

As part of our on-going quest to explore and enjoy as much of this island as possible, Carly and I decided to check out the Makapuu Point Lighthouse.   Here’s the deal: its a super pretty location, the dry rocky ledges jut right out into the bluest expanse of ocean.  Its gorgeous.  But as a hike? Its kinda miserable.

We showed up around 11:30am on a particularly sunny day.  The “hike” is a concrete road that winds up the mountside to the lighthouse, and there isn’t a spec of shade to be found.  To say it was hot is an understatement.

So we just kinda trudged along, baking in the sun, staring at the ocean all around us wishing we were swimming in it.  We did a lot of whales (winter time is “whale season” in Hawaii, and this spot is a known whale look out).  So seeing my ocean friends makes me happy, that was rad.

If anyone goes to do this hike, I totally suggest sunrise.  Its way out on the east side of the island, with ocean all around.  I have a feeling the sunrise there would be incredible.

haiku stairs (aka: “stairway to heaven”)

February 11, 2011 : Kaneohe, Hawaii “Stairway to Heaven”

Stairway is the most physically demanding, nerve-wracking, scary, and illegal hike I’ve ever done.  It was also the most awesomest.  For lack of a better word, its epic.

Its a literal metal staircase bolted into the side of the mountain on O’ahu’s windward side.  Island folklore (aka: the interwebs) explains that the stairs were built back in the day by the USCG to access a radio tower at the tippy top of the mountain.  The military use of the tower and stairs are now defunct, and thus the hike is closed to the public.  There’s a security guard who protects the entrance to the stairs, and the only way to do the hike is to show up hours before he does.

So yeah, we did.  By 5:00am we were in the woods of Kaneohe, searching for the start of the staircase.   It was pitch black, and we hiked with flashlights.  We finally hopped a fence around 5:25am, and could see the stairs a few hundred feet away.

The hike itself took us like four hours.  It’s no joke!  The climb is 2,000+ feet, and the whole thing is done on tiny metal stairs six inches apart.  There are almost 4,000 of those suckers.

We did most of the hike up in the dark.  Thank God for the flashlights.  Oh, and the gloves.  The stairs have metal railings along both sides, and we ended up using way more upper body strength than you’d think.  Day break hit as we were coming to the first couple landings.  We missed sunrise at the top by maybe about 20 minutes.  It wasn’t really a bummer though, because once the sun was out, the view from anywhere along the stairs is just incredible.

My legs, back, arms and shoulders were sore for days.  Shit, I’m still sore. Let’s not kid here.

On the way down, we could see the security guard watching us descend.  We got to the bottom and approached him, and he called out, “what have we here? Three more trespassers?”  For about five seconds I thought I was getting a ticket.  Then he started laughing and asking us how the weather at the top was.   Turns out, he’s very hip to the game.  So for anyone interested, don’t fret the legality – just GO EARLY.

The vertical faces of the climb were pretty crazy.  On the way up it was so dark, we had no idea how scary it really was.  Once we were coming down though we could actually see how exposed you are on the hike.  Its probably not a great idea for folks scared of heights.