What do you call it, when you’re on a trail but not really running?
Oh, yeah — hiking.
I hesitate to talk about it here — it’s not running. You can’t run it, you wouldn’t run it. But the route from Tripler Ridge to Haʻikū Stairs is certainly worth filing away in the back of your brain, as worth doing sometime.
I would, though, love to make another go of it with runners, because it certainly has all the makings of a great trail scramble. While one can’t hold a sustained pace or keep the run up for too long over any real distance, one could certainly move with speed and a purpose over most all of the ~7 miles of this route.
Why do this? I can give you two reasons.
1) To legally get to the top of the Haʻikū Stairs. if you’re like me, you’re not willing to hop a fence and trespass in order to climb the stairs — but that’s going up. Coming down is a different story altogether — if you can hike to the top of the stairs, the guard has no issue with exiting the mountain via the stairs. Strange, I know.
2) The hike itself is awesome. Not that climbing nearly 4000 stairs doesn’t have it’s appeal, but hiking up the ridge line — whichever way you choose to come — it a great hike.
Why hike Tripler Ridge to Haʻikū Stairs? I can give you two reasons, one of which is kinda lame.
1) Tripler Ridge is a total cake walk. I mean, let’s be honest — Middle Ridge (just to the north) can be nasty, as can Kulana’ahane Trail to the north of that. Tripler Ridge is easy enough that someone could make the ascent in the dark with moonlight and a AA-powered flashlight (caution: that’s wild speculation on my part, but I think it’s true). Yes, there are sections of the trail that are thin — but they’re just thin, not super-skinny or so hairy that you’d actually considering scooching along on your butt.
2) No one is going to break into your car, when you leave it parked on Tripler. Well, not likely. I’d be totally surprised if it happened, and if it does, flag down one of the nearly countless MP’s and file a report.
There’s one other thing about this route: you’re not going to do this one alone. Well, you’re not likely to do it alone. You’ll want to stash a car near the exit, and leave one at the trailhead. Which is good — this is a long, single-file trail with views so awesome you’ll want someone with whom you can share them. And yes, there’s always the safety issue — it is remote, there are few others out in the area, and no, you don’t want to have to call 911 and pay for a helicopter to come and extract you (the cost of which I can only imagine).
And am I serious about a trail scramble up this? Absolutely. It’s totally possible. In January, I ran the first almost 3 miles up the ridge, and it very much was a trail scramble. The upper portions get crazy steep, but it’d still be possible to assault the ridgeline at a decent pace. Bring gloves and check the weather.
Google Earth file, here. I included two other overlays, showing the other ridges that I don’t recommend. Things to bring: At least 3 liters of water, maybe more; gloves, in case there’s a mud scramble; a phone; an awesome but small camera; someone else; a plan for a ride back; some basic first aid stuff like fabric to use as a field dressing; and a sense of adventure.
Summary: Mokulēia Loop is a loop that ascends the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road, crosses Mokulēia and Kuaokala Firebreak Roads before coming back down to Dillingham Airfield via the Kealia Trail. It’s an 11 or 14 mile trek, ascends as high as 2000′, and is paved or dirt road for all but one mile of the route.
The Good: The paved road is good for running. So is the dirt road. that might not sound that thrilling, but with the temps that you’ll encounter on the North Shore and on this little corner of the island, it’s nice to find places that can be run under a full moon or more easily if you’re just using a light. And for skirting the edge of Makua Valley, it’s a safe route with excellent glimpses into an often unseen part of the island. It’s also pretty damn hard to get lost; stay on the main road, keep the Makua Valley to your left and the ocean to your right, and all will be OK. And while the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road features a lot of open, unshaded terrain, once you hit the ~4 mile mark and the Peacock Flats Campground, you’ll be treated to long stretches of shade, cooler temperatures, and an often gentle breeze. And if you time it right, you’ll be treated to a nice sunrise at the 3 mile marker on the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road (it’s where the building is), looking back over the North Shore.
The Bad: If you’re running this unsupported, there’s no way to avoid the three miles from the access road to Kealia — or Kealia back to your car at the access road. It’s insult to injury; either you’re starting or (worse) ending with a run down a hardball road that is booooooring. There’s ample room on the side of the road, so at least it’s relatively safe, but still — it’s the opposite of what this route is all about. And holy smokes — the run down the length of the airfield seems to never end. It goes on, and on, and on, and on – like the knight approaching the castle in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. The right way to do it is to run with someone else, and park a car at each of the trailheads.
The Ugly: The only time your life is in danger is when you are hoofing it down the Kealia trail. There’s no escaping that it’s a mile of single track, narrow, rock infested trail cut into the side of a cliff. Not that you’ll fall off the cliff, mind you — it’s that you’ll catch a foot or some toes or a heel and pitch forward for a faceplant. Also, there’s no easy way down; you commit to the running the whole thing when you’re at Peacock Flats Campground or at the Makua Valley overlook
Type of route: Paved road; dirt road; dirt trail.
Good to run in the rain? Light rain, yes. Heavy rain might make Kealia interesting.
Length: 14 miles.
Options for the route: Yes.Part one car at the Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road entrance, and another at the Kealia Trailhead; this shaves 3 miles off of the run, but requires two cars.
Elevation change on the run: 50′ to 2000′.
Water used: 2 liters. Expect to use more if the sun is up too early. There’s no escaping the climb on this one, and there’s no water along the way.
Where to start: Here. The Mokulēia Forest Reserve Access Road entrance is on the South side of the Farrington Highway, just past a bunch of streets that have no street signs. As you head west, I look for the patch of dense palm trees; parking is just before that.
Where to park: Same.
Point your car’s GPS towards: Farrington Highway, Waialua, HI 96791. And then drive until you see it.
Medical care? Only at Dillingham. Good cell phone coverage through this route, though.
Ranger / park folks? In theory, maybe. You run a greater risk of encountering military / government types if you wander too far off the trail.
Picnic areas? Two. At the top of Kealia, and then at Peacock Flats campground.
A place to change afterwards? Only at Dillingham.
Rewards in the area: Waialua Bakery, 66-200 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712
You’d run this route when…. your legs are feeling uppity. When your friend says that he needs more hills in his life. When someone agrees to go along and you’ve got two cars for the point-to-point. When you realize it’s just 11 miles and just 2000 feet. When it dawns on you that, once you make the 2000′ climb, it’s rolling dirt roads in the shade.
My rating: 9. One of the best runs I’ve done on the island, easily.
Music: Be careful. No buzzkills on this one. I went with a heavy 70s influenced set, and it worked well with me.
Summary: DeLong DeLoop is an approximately 7 mile loop that mauka from Honolulu and Moana. It features elevation changes from less than 1000 feet up to almost 2000 feet, it ranges from dry times to moist jungles, and features long stretches where you’re unlikely to encounter anyone else. It includes a number of trails from Hawaii’s Na Ala Hele trail system, and the route is both maintained by volunteers and fairly well suited for running. The route is the `Ualaka`a Trail to Makiki Valley, up the Nahuina Trail to the new Kalawahine Trail. From there, it’s just back down Manoa Cliff Trail to the Moleka Trail and on to the starting point via `Ualaka`a Trail.
The Good: There are three things to love about this route: 1) it’s mauka and has the elevation gains and losses to back that up, 2) it’s trail, trail, trail, and 3) you can go long stretches without seeing anyone else. At almost 7 miles, this loop offers about as much running as you could ever want — go fast, and be done with it; go more slowly, and chat it up with some friends; or go slow, and do like I do and shoot a few hundred photos along the way (because stopping to take photos is more dignified than stopping because you’re out of breath and about to die). The area is up on the Ko`olau range, and gets rain, but it’s not soaked or a mud-fest. You can sneak off here to run in the shade, most any time of the day, and if you get up there early in the morning when the park opens, you’ll be treated to a glorious view of morning over Diamond Head.
The Bad: How are those ankles of yours? This is seven miles of rocks and roots and all things trippy. It’s enough work, huffing and puffing up and down the trails, you also have to keep an eye out for things that will trip you up and ruin your week. Also, it’s a hunting area — pigs, digs, hunters, at least in theory. For as many times as I’ve been up in the area, I’ve seen one truck, and no pigs, dogs, or hunters. Still a possibility. Oh, and did I mention cliffs? Yeah, cliffs. I hate to say it, but you have to actually pay attention while running, to keep from falling to your death. Is it hard to fall to your death? Yes — you have to earn it on the route, but it’s there for you and the rest of the cream floating on the top of the gene pool. Oh, and if you’re not paying attention, there is one place on this entire trail where you can hit your head on a rock — but again, you really have to earn that one, too.
The Ugly: Nothing, really. I’ve had people say, Ugh, 10km is a lot. But really, if the idea of running something more than 10km is pee in your Cheerios, you’ll avoid this place like the plague when I tell you about the climbs and hills and slopes of all kinds. Joggers probably talk about distances; runners, I think, just go.
Type of route: Trail Good to run in the rain? Yes. There are a few places that look like they get hit with run-off when the rains are heavy, so maybe wait a little bit if it is indeed raining hard for a sustained period.
Length: 7 glorious miles.
Options for the route: Gobs. Here‘s the map of the trail network in the area — run yourself blind. Of course, I favor turning down Maunalaha Trail and running back up Kanealole Trail; if that doesn’t scratch the itch, I’m not sure what to say.
Elevation change on the run: ~1000 feet, from a low of 980′ to a high of 1920′. Water used: 2 liters, usually. But I’ve run this thing with none and been fine — well, been dehydrated when I was done, but been fine to run. Don’t be me; bring at least two liters with you.
Where to start: Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park (map). It’s also called Tantalus. Where to park: Same Point your car’s GPS towards: Round Top Dr & Nutridge St, Honolulu, HI 96822
My Google Earth file: here My Garmin file: here EveryTrail: here
Facilities Water? Yes, but only at Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park Toilets? Yes, but only at Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park Medical care? Nope. Decent cell phone coverage; bring a cell phone with you Ranger / park folks? At Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park. Picnic areas? Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park has some. And there are a few benches along the way. A place to change afterwards? Kind of. Pu`u `Ualaka`a State Park restrooms will shield you from prying eyes, but there are no showers, no privacy, nothing more than a toilet stall without a door, inside an open building.
You’d run this route when…. it’s Sunday morning and you’re already dehydrated. Oh, wait — that’s most all of these runs. You’re run DeLong DeLoop when 40 miles a week isn’t scaring you. You’d run this when Aiea Loop isn’t enough any more. You’d run this route after you’d spent a Saturday flopped on the couch, telling yourself that next year you really will train for the Hurt100.
My rating: 8.
Music: Smiths, Red Hot Chili Peppers, old school REM, U2 older than 1992.
As has happened before, I slipped off to Iraq for a year, spending most all of 2011 in Baghdad. Perhaps in another time, I would have been able to spend a year there writing about great adventures and runs, through the old parts of the city, along the banks of the Tigris or Euphrates Rivers, crossing vast open sands on foot under the cool comfort of a moonless night.
But these days? Yeah, not so much. I snuck in some runs, though not as many as I would have liked. I had stretches of no running, and weeks with 20 or more miles. I ran before the sun rose, I ran long after it had retired, and I even ran under the mid day sun when it was, yes, well past 130 degrees. Running was a precious break that did not happen often enough, and yes, running with it is about 130 degrees is as crazy as it sounds.
I ran short runs, like a single lap around Z Lake. I ran longer runs, like a 4.5 mile loop that took me around the lake as well as Signal Hill. Once in a blue moon, I managed things like Lost Lake to Al Faw to Z Lake, often with others and often with one eye on the road and one eye on the perimeter.
Without a doubt, the most memorable run was Xmas Eve 2010, when three of us were doing a 1/2 marathon on our own. On our way back from the Perfume Palace, our base came under a series of attacks — rockets and mortars, three times, in relatively close intervals. The first attack sounded so far away, and the second didn’t. The third was close — we were adjacent to a CRAM that fired off, and one of the rocketslanded on the street where we were running, close enough that, yeah, a little bit of pee came out (it was a bit like this.) That run, that night, was what closed out my running in 2010 — and included my 2010th mile for the year.
Since returning to the island, I’ve returned to the trails. I need to get back to running, and I need to get back to writing. I’ve only got a few more months here on the island so, well, I’ll do what I can. I run on post 5 days a week, but generally head out for some trail adventure on Sunday morning with some of the crew. Interested? Drop me a note and come join us for a run.
My year of running on Oahu comes to a close this weekend. I’ve been back from Iraq for a year, and I’m about to get on a plane to head back there for another year. It’s time, though, to talk about the year.
I really did average ~40 miles per week of running. That does kinda blow my mind. I’ve only taken to running because a) I’m in the Army, and b) someone told me a while ago that I could run but just not very far. 40 miles in a week seems like a lot, but 40 miles on average per week, for an entire year, seems bonkers.
I really did do a 300 mile month. July as crazy. Averaging 10 miles per day was tough. I’m very glad I did it.
Yes, on a whim, I went and did an Olympic-class Tri. On a whim. In my surf shorts, with my waterproof camera in my hand while I swam. And yes, riding a 20-year old Trek mountain bike that sports mud tires.
I am very pleased with how this blog turned out. It doesn’t have the number of runs I wish it would have, but it sure has the depth. I do love the consistent range of things that I covered. I do love the inclusion of the photos. I do love that I made Garmin and Google Earth files for the routes, even when it meant I had to go back to do it again. This is the blog I wish I had found when I had moved to the island.
My favorite runs from the year are:
The 50km run I did up Kolekole Pass. i did not blog this one, I just quietly did it one night. I’ve done marathons, but never anything farther. I did not train for it, I did not prep for it, and in fact, I really didn’t decide to do it until that afternoon (I ran into the night). Of the runs I did this year, it is the one I will likely brag about the most, only because of the distance and randomness of the decision to do it.
The running story I have told the most this year is the long and sordid tale of my near-fatal run in Tucson in May. I was doing a 1/2 marathon-distanced run across Catalina State Park and out onto the 50 Year Trail, and I was chased and almost killed by a HUGE bull. I wrote it up as a pretty funny email that I titled, “How I was almost raped by an angry adult bull” and sent it to friends along with some photos of said bull, as proof. I’ve also told the story in person to a lot of people, maybe because it’s damn funny but also because there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from it. The story has changed some with different tellings, to support the key points I want to make, but the humor is probably more of what people remember about it. I will never forget that run.
If I could go run right now, I’d go run the Poamoho Ridge Trail. If I were to take you on a run, I’d ask you if you’re ready to try the Poamoho Ridge Trail. The best trail I ran this year, the best run I had this year, the most fun I had this year, was on the Poamoho Ridge Trail.
The Old Pali Highway. I tell people that there’s nothing flat about this island, that everything here involves elevation change. Running the Old Pali Highway demonstrates this well. But it also shows well the hidden treasures that litter this island, if you’re willing to explore some. I love the old road surface. I love the trees and the canopy cover they offer. I love the cool air and the gentle breezes. And I love the views it offers.
My other go-to run is a 10km out-and-back on the Manana Trail. If bacon is the gateway drug that brings vegetarians back to eating meat, the lower Manana Trail run is the one that brings runners back out to the trail. It’s a long, slow climb, but it’s gradual and on a good trail, and offers some kick ass views. It’s a good run on a sunny day or in the rain.
My run is the Big Schofield Loop. Let’s face it — I’m a Soldier, I’m assigned to Schofield, and I’ve also spent the the year running around Schofield. A ~16 mile loop is a good, good run distance, and to see the old post, and all her best sides, and to also blaze up the KoleKole Pass is as big part of my memories of the year. I still remember clearly making my first ascent up the pass, and thinking I was likely going to die. I did it again this morning, and it felt as comfortable to me as running down the street to the store. It’s not a run for everyone, and it’s certainly not a run you’d go out of your way to run. It just happens to be my run.
The Tiki Trail run up Wai`anae Kai is the run I never thought I’d do. And a year ago, if someone had suggested that I add it to the list, I’d have laughed. It’s a psychotic run — 2.25 mile straight up. It’s inhuman. It’s not even a pleasant hike — it’s a mean-spirited hike. But I sure loved it .
And it’s not Oahu, but I loved the Thumb Butte run I did in Prescott. They dropped me off at a lake, and I ran across the desert to the butte, zigzagging my way through the Prescott National Forrest on their awesome hiking trails. It was just a half-marathon, but the trails were great, the views stunning, the distance spot-on, and the solitude remarkable.
I have mixed feelings putting the Kamananui Valley Road run on this list. I loved the trail. I loved the isolation. I loved the quiet beauty of the run. I hate, hate, hate that the valley was, for far too long, the private property for an estate that dated back to the plantation days. Making it publicly accessible land represents all of te hard work that has had to be done, and continued to be needed, to right some of the tragic wrongs that befell the people of these islands. It is a guilty run, but it’s also the place I tell everyone about in the hopes that they’ll go there (it’s only been open to the public for a couple of years now).
And last, but certainly not least, is the small trail that runs from the parking lot out to Pele’s Chair. It isn’t very long, but for some reason, it always makes me smile.
I’ll still be around, virtually that is. By all means, drop me a note or leave a comment if you have questions about what you find here. I hope you enjoy the site and the information as much as I had collecting and posting it.
Summary: We all have our Moby Dick. For me, it’s been two trails, the Poamoho Ridge Trail and the Schofield-Waikane Trail. Both caught my eye early this year, when I saw on the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program website Na Ala hele that each required special permits (one permit from the State for Poamoho, but one from the US Army at Schofield and then one from the State for access to the Schofield-Waikane Trail). Special permits to go on a trail? They must be special trails. Six weeks ago, with a couple of Army buddies, I had the good fortune of heading up the Poamoho Ridge Trail, but I had to wait until today before I could take a stab at Schofield-Waikane Trail.
When I contacted the Na Ala Hele crew about the status of the trail, I asked if anyone had been up there recently. With the dual permit requirement, I wondered just how often people ventured up there, but I also wondered just how often any of the volunteer s had been up there in order to do trail maintenance. I was hoping to glean some good intel ahead of time, so we’d better understand what we were getting into. Their answer? Honest, and worth it’s weight in gold. The key nugget was this: “it’s a complicated permit, a long hot walk to an overgrown trail. In other words, it’s currently not the Poamoho experience you may be looking for…but you can legally hike it.” I’ve been up Poamoho, ladies and gentlemen, and let me tell you — this is no Poamoho.
The Good: It’s dead quiet on this trail. Running through the Army training areas is a bit uneventful, but even that boring ol’ tank trail has some awesome views. And once you get to the trail itself, the views may well knock you over the edge. They are awesome. I could plant a chair along this trail, and stay a week. And I am guessing that the low numbers of visitors has something to do with the fantastic foliage being matched with a wonderful lack of human presence; we came across just one piece of trash on this trip, when we’ve damn near filled our packs with trash on other trails. Also, this is a wet trail; be ready for ferns, and be ready to be soaked, as you’re going to bust brush on the way. I loved it; the sun was out, but between the moisture, the occasional drops from the sky, and the sections of trail in the shade, we kept cool and kept moving.
The Bad: OMG, you have to actually plan to go up this trail. You can’t just wake up one morning and decided to head up there. It’s something you have to think of a few weeks ago; the Army permit can take a day or two, and the State permit has to be submitted a week or ten days in advance of when you want to go (and after you have the paperwork from the Army). Granted, the permit process is amazingly easy, and moved along by the nicest of people, but I am sure that there is someone who will read this who will actually think to themselves that this is a bad thing, having to apply for a permit. For me, I see it as just part of the process. Permits in hand, you also have to call in to the US Army’s Range Control before you start your trip (and have to take a cell phone with you), as well as call back in when you get in off of the trail.
The Ugly: The trail does indeed go to pot maybe 3.5 miles in. I think Schofield-Waikane Trail would be a great trail to hike. Notice that I didn’t say that it’s a great hiking trail, or that it’d be a great hike. It would be a great trail to hike. The route, with its long stretch of tank trail, has only a relatively short section of perhaps a mile and a half that is run-able trail; before that is the tank trail, and after that is trail with tough footing. This is not a trail for running to the top of the Ko`olau range, but it certainly is a rail for putting in a quiet 10km run on a nice weekend morning. If you’re going to hike it, wear pants; raspberry plants can be mean to people.
Type of route: Tank trail, then trail running Good to run in the rain? It’d be OK to run in the rain.
Length: Probably 14 miles to the summit and back. We did about 9.5 miles round trip, but if you’re going to run, plan on doing a 10km.
Options for the route: Um…. keep going father than we did? No, there are no other side trails from this one.
Elevation change on the run: Starts at around 1300 feet, summits closer to 2800 I think. We stopped at ~2000 feet. Water used: ~2 liters.
Where to start: California Ave at Nonohe St, in Wahiawa. I asked about parking at the NCO Academy, and running through the training areas (I am, after all, an Army guy). The answer? A resounding NO! Where to park: Same Point your car’s GPS towards: 21.508306° -157.986457° 2568 Nonohe St, Wahiawa, HI 96786
Facilities Water? Nope Toilets? Nope Medical care? Nope Ranger / park folks? Range control. But you won’t see them, you’ll just talk to them on the phone. If you actually see them…. yeah, that probably wouldn’t be good, because they’d probably have MP’s with them. Picnic areas? Nope A place to change afterwards? Nope. Deck change, in front of someone’s house.
Rewards in the area: There’s a porn store in Wahiawa, if that counts.
You’d run this route when? You’ve run everything else and you can plan a weekend to do it. When you’ve raced a half-marathon the day before.
My rating: 8
Music: None. Don’t spoil this run with headphones.
Weather / Trail warnings (here) / Permits (here) I ended up mailing in the request to the US Army, and they scanned and emailed back to me their approval. I faxed that to the State, who mailed me a lovely, embossed permit package to take along on the trip.
Summary: Set along the low hills of the North Shore, the Gunstock Ranch hosted its first half marathon and 5K run this weekend. The trail had runners circling and then crossing the working ranch, as well as through lush jungle and a well-flowing river. It was a well laid out course, and for a first time effort, the event went off without any major hitches. I had found out about it through the HURT blog, and with that, there were a lot of endurance runners that showed for this inaugural event; if I had to guess, I’d say that there were about 200 runners this year.
The Good: It was a good, good trail run. I loved the route. I loved the most that they got the cattle off the course, but that’s just me and my bull issues. I didn’t even mind the still-fresh cow pies along the way — it added a little somethin-somethin to it all. And did I mention the creek? I loved the creek — but then again, I am a Labrador. Others, I am sure, will lodge their protest over the wide creek and delicate rocks they they chose to carefully try to cross; me, I loved seeing the creek coming, and plowing right through it.
The Bad: While there were water points along the way, more would have helped. I hate saying that — they have three on this course, two of which you pass twice (and did not run out). That should be enough – but one more, especially in the second half of the run, would be a big boost. Also, for an event called a trail run, there sure was a lot of time spent on pavement. I understand — it can be hard to line up a 13.1 mile (or 13.7+ miles, in this case) route that is all trail, but I hope they work to find an even better route for next year that will be all trail or ranch road (which was fine, too).
The Ugly: Only one thing: their mileage was off. That half marathon we ran was a bit more than a half marathon. Well organized event, for their first time putting it on; well run, all the moreso for the same reasons; and a lot of fun to run.
Type of route: A little bit of everything. A trail road, an off-road run, a paved road run. Good to run in the rain? Yes. That would be an awesome run.
Length: 13.7+ miles. The course this year was a wee bit long.
Options for the route: They did have a 5k version.
Elevation change on the run: From around 50 feet up to around 300 feet, doing that several times, too. Water used: 3 liters.
Where to start: Gunstock Ranch Where to park: Same Point your carís GPS towards: 56 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, Hawaii 96762
Facilities Water? Yes, at the water points (3 points along the route, five chances to get water). Water, and fancy water. Toilets? A couple of points along the way. Nice and clean, too; well stocked. Medical care? Did not see any. Saw people with cell phones. Ranger / park folks? Nope. Private land, for the most part. Picnic areas? Nope, unless you went across the Kam Highway. A place to change afterwards? Nope. Deck change, in the parking lot.
Rewards in the area: Malaekahana State Recreation Area is on the other side of the Kam Highway from the ranch; it’s a great place to go and chill, or have a picnic, or take a dip in the deep blue sea. We chose to stop off at Shark’s Cove, in hopes of finding more jellyfish and / or reason to buy more Maui Brewing Company beer. No jellyfish, so we settled for some HD video of the shore break pounding some really big boulders.
You’d run this route when… you’re getting ready for the Honolulu Marathon in December. When you want to run some otherwise off-limits areas. When your buddy has just come back into the Army and you want to help him push himself in getting back into fighting shape.
My rating: 7
Music: Something loud, and something booming. This is the place to fire up some old school AC/DC, or some old Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden.
Summary: Nursing a sore Achille’s tendon, I made a rare daytime run around Schofield Battacks, Oahu, HI, on what I lovingly refer to as The Big Loop. Starting at Richardson Pool, adjacent to the Division Headquarters for the 25th Infantry Division, I ran past the Nehelani Club to Lyman Road. From there, I ran to the Lyman Gate, then the main / Foote gate, before heading to the McNair / back gate. From there, it’s over to McMahon Road and out for a loop near Area X / the ranges. After that, it’s back towards the Shoppette, and the long climb up Timble Road to Kolekole Pass. Coming back down, I peeled off of Timble and back onto Lyman, ran past the cemetery, before making the left to return by the Nehelani Club to Richardson pool. At 15.85 miles, it’s about as long as I’ve been able to stretch running a loop on Schofield Barracks.
The Good: Schofield Barracks, rich in history and spectacularly beautiful, is a wonder place to run, and this route covers just about everything on the base except the main drag leading to the PX, Commissary, and headquarters for the 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning). It also includes a run up Kolekole pass, a staple for just about any runner on Schofield Barracks. Much of the route is on paved roads that are in good shape, especially the climb up Kolekole pass. There are a few stores on base and along the route, allowing for easy resupply of food or drink — a critical requirement given the length of the run, the elevation change and climb up Kolekole, and the role the sun can play when away from the canopy shape afforded on long stretches of this run.
The Bad: The sun can be brutal. While this is a fine run to do on a moon-lit night, it can be rough if not dangerous to try this when the tropic sun is beating down upon you. Long stretches, especially out towards Area X, can leave you drained of fluids and at risk for heat related injuries. Also, some stretches of the road are cracked, scarred with potholes or their repair, or offer little to no shoulder before dropping off to uneven ground; ankle and foot injuries can be a serious risk.
The Ugly: None. My own regret is that the base stopped — long ago, by the way — their annual run over KoleKole Pass, across the Navy base on the other side and on to the Pacific Ocean. That would be an awesome half marathon run, one that, in this post 9/11 world, I doubt we’ll see return.
Type of route: Paved road and some sidewalk. Good to run in the rain? Great to run in the rain.
Length: ~16 miles.
Options for the route: You can make it shorter. If you’re willing to abandon the loop aspect of this run, you could also run through the main area of post, adding some more miles.
Elevation change on the run: 900 feet, up to 1700 feet or so . Water used: About 5 liters. I could have / would have used more.
Where to start: Richardson Pool. Where to park: Same (Google Maps) Point your car’s GPS towards: Burr Street at Cadet Sheridan Road, Schofield Barracks, HI 96786
Facilities Water? Yep. All over the place. At the pool, at various facilities along the way (like the gym), and at the shoppettes. Toilets? Ditto. Medical care? The finest the Army has to offer. Ranger / park folks? Military Police (insert Park Ranger vs MP joke). Picnic areas? Hmmmm. Yes, at the pool. And at a few other parks around the area. Bowen Park is my favorite (here). A place to change afterwards? Richardson Pool.
Rewards in the area: The museum. It’s fat-free, too.
You’d run this route when? It’s dark out, and maybe rainy.
My rating: 7. It’d score better, but on a hot day, this run is brutal.
Summary: Poamoho Ridge Trail is a 3.5 or so mile ascent up the ridge to the top of the Koʻolau Range, after a 6.5 mile trip up the Poamoho Hele Loa Road. The trip requires a special permit from the State, as the route crosses land belonging to the Dole Plantation, the US Military, and the State itself. The road itself is very well suited for running, and two-thirds of the ridge trail can easily be run as well; the last portion of the ridge trail is unmaintained, and is better suited for walking / hiking, but it still well worth it. With the permit requirement (and limit to five permits per weekend day), this is not just a wonderful route, it’s also one that is quiet and a place to go with a small group knowing you won’t see many (if any) others. From the trail-head, the route is about 18 miles round trip and rises from 1100 feet elevation to 2600 feet.
Background (me and this trail): I first started toying with the idea of running this route when I first started to spend some time on the Na Ala Hele website, which is about the State trail system. It’s listed as a state hiking trail, but a few things caught my attention. Like the need for a permit. That it goes through the forest. That it’s only periodically maintained. That the Poamoho Hele Loa is 4×4 only. I knew that those were just sirens calling to me, but that to others, they’d be a turn off — you have to plan ahead to go run this? You can’t just get up and go on a whim? Just running the ridge trail would be a 10km run (or maybe hike), but running the whole thing would be about 20 miles — who does that? Well, I do, I thought. I knew I should not run the route alone (few others on it, isolated, ridges with cliffs, unmaintained, etc), but I wasn’t sure I could talk others into doing this with me. I hope this post is ammunition for others to talk their friends into doing this with them.
The Good: This 20 mile run has three parts: road, 2 miles of lower trail, and 1 mile of upper trail. The road is great running. It’s a good ascent, with the road taking you up about half the elevation of the ridge, and it’s well maintained, making it easy to run. It’s not good, it’s great. No one is going to try and run any real length of Maunawili while three-across; you can do that here. The ridge trail is 3 miles long, and the first two aren’t good, they’re great, too — nice and wide, solid shoulders, great views, plenty of trees providing shade. Even running on a day of sprinkles after a night of rail, we didn’t have slippage issues during those first 2+ miles of the lower trail. And yes, it is as isolated as I had expected, and hoped; we saw one set of hunters just once (there were two sets out), and one group of hikers (they drove up the road to hike the last part), but other than that, we had the mountain and trail to ourselves. And probably the nicest surprise was, as a military member, parking at the gym on the Helemano Military Reservation, and having a great gym at which to clean up after the run. And one last thing — the permit. It’s free, and can be done by mail or fax — which is awesome.
The Bad: Cows loose on the trail. I have cow and bull issues, I know, but there were some (4) that were out and about, and giving us the stink-eye. We paused and waited, and they moved on. Also bad for running is the last mile or so of the trail; it’s not suitable for running, for the most part. After 9 miles to get there, though, it’s totally worth it to hoof it up that last mile, both to get to the top and to take in the views. Oh, and you’re going to get dirty. There’s no two ways about that – running or hiking. For me, that’s fine — par for the course, really — but if you’re not expecting it, you’ll be surprised.
The Ugly: If the sun is out in full force, this’d be a cooker of a run. On a cloudy day, we all drained our camelbaks; I can only imagine what it’d be like on a hot, sunny day.
Type of route: Dirt road and trail Good to run in the rain? Yes, if you’re already comfortable with that.
Length: about 18.5 from trailhead to the top and back; it’s 20, from the gym.
Options for the route: Nope.
Elevation change on the run: 1100 feet to 2600 feet. Mostly gradual, not too many steep areas. Water used: The full 3 liters.
Where to start: When you get your permit, they’ll tell you that. Where to park: You can park near the trail head, or near the gym (like we did). Or, you can drive the road and just run the trail. Point your car’s GPS towards: Wait and see.
Facilities Water? Nope Toilets? Nope Medical care? Nope. Cell phone coverage all the way up, though. Ranger / park folks? Nope. Picnic areas? Nope A place to change afterwards? We did, at the gym.
Rewards in the area: 3 taco plate at Just Tacos in Mililani (map). It was about $50 for the three of us to each have this, but man did it hit the spot.
You’d run this route when…. you love running on this island, and you have friends just are as crazy as you. When you’ve already run most all of the other Na Ala Hele trails, and decide that, really, you need to try and run them all. When you need a run that will push you a little farther than normal.
My rating: 10. I would run this again today.
Music: None. Won’t need it, probably won’t want it.
Summary: The Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is a 2.25 mile trail that rises almost 1800 feet, before peaking on the spine of the Ko`olau Ridge. It’s a tough run, for it is steep, but it is very run-able and offers a great reward in the form of spectacular views. The locals say that you’re suppose to run to the top, come back down to the picnic table, and then run back to the top again.
The Good: The trail is in very good shape. Unlike a lot of other trails that go mauka on the Ko`olau Ridge, this one is wide and easily navigable all the way to the end. There are no ropes, there’s no forced hiking; you can run as hard and as long as your legs can handle. Being steep, there’s some erosion, but it’s been well addressed and should hold up well for a long time. And the views — wow, the views. Fantastic. From Diamond Head, all the way around to the Makapu`u Lighthouse and on to Kaneoha Bay, standing at the top of the trail lets you see everything from Honolulu to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in Hawaii Kai. And the foliage is awesome; like the website says,
The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o`hia-koa-lama forest.
The Bad: Are you OK with ascending about 1800 feet of elevation, in 2.25 miles? Because you’re going to do that. Are you happy only running on bike trails? This ascent features rocks and roots and stairs and all kinds of things that will make you question your footing, and question your sanity on the way down. Now, I happen to like that stuff, but hey, that’s me. And remember — this is an active hunting area, so be careful on the weekends.
The Ugly: Nothing.
Type of route: Trail Good to run in the rain? It’s be a tough one, especially the last little bit.
Length: 2.25 miles to the top.
Options for the route: Run to the top, come back down to the picnic area, then re-assault the top — that’s 10km once you get back to the car.
Elevation change on the run: 300 feet up to 2100 feet, and back down. Water used: I used 1.5 liters, but could have / would have used more.
Where to start: Kalaau Pl, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821S Where to park: Same. The very end of the street is marked no parking, and that seems to be enforced. Get there early, or your parking options won’t be close to the trail head. Point your car’s GPS towards: here.
Facilities Water? Nope. Toilets? Nope. Medical care? Nope. Ranger / park folks? Nope. Picnic areas? One. Mid way up, about 1.5 miles from the trail head and .7 miles from the top. A place to change afterwards? Nope.
You’d run this route when….it’s not actually raining Windward, and you want a nice view. When the skies are clear, and you think you can get up there for the sunrise. When you’re training for the DipSea. When old ladies call you out.
My rating: 9
Music: Some classic 80′s tunes. That is, assuming no one is close enough to you on the trails to actually hear what you’re listening to. If that’s the case, go with NWA.