Mokulēia Loop

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.

My Google Earth file: here

My Garmin file: None


Water?  Only at Dillingham.

Toilets?   Only at Dillingham.

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.

Weather / Trail warnings / Permits (not required) – permit is an issue only if you turned at Peacock Flats Campground and head to the Mokulēia Trail down the ridge.

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here.  State Park Info: here and here and here.   Color Map: here

DeLong DeLoop

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.

Reminds me of running in CA

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.  When in doubt, head up

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.

Go ahead -- bust an ankle

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.

The famous rock, for which DeLong DeLoop is named

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

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.

Rewards in the area: Driving Tantalus.

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.

Weather / Trail warnings (here) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here (great blog, BTW) and here. State Park Info: here and here