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

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.

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

Wai`anae Kai

Summary: Wai`anae is home to the Wai`anae Kai Forest Preserve, that stretches from near Poka`i Bay all the way up to Mount Kaʻala, the islands highest point.  While a number of trails will take hikers up to Mount Ka’ala, leg-strong runners can make a good dent in running Wai`anae Kai – a history and ancient trail that heads up to a saddle just below Mount Ka’ala.

The Good:  You will be alone on this trip.  Unlike other trails down near Honolulu or even over near Kailua,   few seem to venture up these trails.  It’s not that they’re bad trails, they’re just off the beaten path.  All the better, I say.  If you head out there in the morning, you’ll likely get some shade from the mountains themselves.  Being leeward, the odds of getting soaked are much lower, too.  Oh, and the views.  My goodness — the views.  Splendid views — you’ll want to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views.  Lastly, the trails are well marked; painted bottle caps (Gatorade, from the looks of them) adorn the route, color coded to keep the various routes straight.

The Bad:  Bring your thighs.  From the parking area, it’s up.  Parking is at about 600 feet of elevation, and the power lines in the saddle are at about 2800 feet of elevation.  2200 feet of ascent, in about 2.25 miles.  If you’ve got legs, you can probably run the first 2 miles, and hike / hot air balloon up the last quarter mile.  How steep?  The paved road at the bottom has markings from what appears to be tracked vehicles — you know, the types of tracks yo see on tanks, snow cats, etc.  Crazy steep.  But it does have splendid views — you’ll likely need to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views and to keep your thigh muscles from actually exiting the skin.  I don’t really see this as a bad thing, but it merits mentioning — yes, it’s a hunting area.  So, yes, you may encounter hunters and dogs (though in all my encounters around the island, I’ve never had an issue with hunters or dogs).

The Ugly:  Cattle.  Granted, I have cattle issues already, but they are sometimes out there in small numbers.  Yes, bulls, too.  No water, no restrooms, no rangers wandering about.  It’ll be just you and a steep run.

Type of route:  Steep trail.  It starts paved, becomes a dirt road for just a little bit, and then becomes trail.
Good to run in the rain? Wow.  I’m going to say no.  You’d likely slip and slide all over the place.

Length:  4.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route: For running?  Maybe start at Poka`i Bay and run up instead of driving up.  Running higher up on the ridgeline just isn’t possible, though there is great hiking to be had there.

Elevation change on the run:  From 600 feet to 2800 feet .
Water used: 2 liters going up, almost none coming down.

Where to start:  At the end of Wai`anae Valley Road.
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards: Waianae Valley Rd, Waianae, Honolulu, HI 96792

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Yes, actually.  Here.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  Poka`i Bay, of course.  Stop in for a dip, maybe something to drink.  It’s a great beach for just sitting.

You’d run this route when….  you’re training for the TransRockies Run.  When your thighs need a good reminded of who’s the boss.  When just running 4.5 miles is enough.

My rating:  7.  It’s good, but it’s a lot.

Music:  Stuff from the late 70’s.  Black Sabbath.  Iron Maiden.  When I ran into the bulls, I had Johnny Rotten piping into my ears, and that was followed by some classic Rolling Stones.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here State Park Info: None — it’s forest land, not state park.

Manana Trail

Summary: The Manana Trail is a state / country trail in the Pearl Ridge area, that heads mauka (towards the mountains) up the Koʻolau Range.  While it’s close to six miles to hike all the way to the ridge, the lower first few miles of the trail make for some great running.  It offers easy access, great views, rolling ascent and wide, safe paths.

The Good:  The first three miles of this trail is good.   It’s a nice, rolling climb from about 1000 feet of elevation, up to about 1600 feet of elevation.  Nice wide trails, the route is well marked and easy to follow.  It mixes lots of shade with open areas of panoramic views.  And on a nice and sunny day, this is a beautiful place to go run.  Mid way up, there’s even a camping area — a nice place to stop for a sit, though there’s no water or anything other than the clearing.

The Bad:  There are a few stretches of the trail that are narrow, with a drop off on both sides.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – it’s probably just not for everyone.  Also, parking is at the end of a residential street — I always feel guilty, parking in front of someone’s house when I head out running (though I do try and police up the trash in the area, and leave it better than I found it).  Did I mention dog poop?  Yep — some of them, unfortunately. Did I mention pig hunting? I don’t see it as a problem — I’ve never had a bad experience with hunters on the trails. But it is a hunting area.

The Ugly:  Have you noticed that I’ve been talking about the first three miles of this trail?  Well, after the three mile  mark is stops being running and turns into hiking.  Or mountain climbing.  If you’re wanting a run longer than 6 miles round trip, this isn’t it.  If you want to run to the top, this isn’t the trail for you.

Type of route: Trail run
Good to run in the rain? Yes, for the first 3 miles.  After that, no.

Length: 6 to 12 miles; I recommend just the 6.

Options for the route:  Yes — one.  There’s a split off, to go down to the Waimano Pool.  Take caution, though — it’s a steep hike down, and a mean hike back up.  If it’s raining, or been raining, it’ll be slick.  More info, here.

Elevation change on the run: Three miles will be about 600 feet of elevation gain.
Water used: A solid two liters.

Where to start:  At the end of Komo Mai Drive
Where to park:  Same.  be sure not to block the circle at the end — emergency vehicle access, so you’ll get a ticket / towed.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Komo Mai Drive, Pearl City, HI 96782 (here)

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? No
Toilets? No
Medical care? No
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes (via).  Mid way up, at the camp site.
A place to change afterwards? No.  Which is a bit awkward — doing a deck change outside someone’s house is, well, awkward.

Rewards in the area:Try Miki’s (1001 Lehua Avenue, Pearl City, HI 96782-3334) for some grinds.

You’d run this route when….it’s a sunny, sunny day with some clouds that are mauka.

My rating:  8.  I look forward to running this one a few more times.

Music:  It needs to be something older, like the Squeeze (try this).

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

More reading: here and here and here (great website).  Flickr: hereMore photos: here State Park Info: here

North Shore (Shark’s Cove to RFF Opana)

Summary:  I have been in love with the North Shore since I was a kid.  Growing up on a Boogie Board in the 70’s and 80’s, it was hard not to hear the tales of Sunset and Waimea and to become enamored by the sales of sand and surf and the beautiful sea.  Since returning to the island, I’d been trying to work out a decent run to do across the North Shore, something more than just the 3 miles of bike path but something that would been me off of the thin and dangerous roads out past Turtle Bay.  Shark’s Cove to RFF Opana seems to fill that need nicely — a good length (11 miles round trip), with plenty of bike path (6 of the 11) and sidewalk running, with great views of the beaches and plenty of places to divert to see the sand and sea.  Over the 11 miles, the elevations changes very little, while the route is a mix of shade and exposed roads and paths.

The Good: This route is flat.  Gloriously flat.  The bike path sections also have a lot of shade, low volume of bike traffic, and slow bike traffic (the serious riders keep to the street, it seems, while the beach cruisers stick to the bike path).  The many beaches along the way feature decent enough bathrooms and the occasional water fountain, making this an easier run to do without a camelbak.  The bathrooms come in handy for cleaning up after the run, though I favor a dip into the cove more.  There are also some good eats in the area for afterward.  This run would be amazing if the bike path were longer, but hey, it is what it is.

The Bad: It gets a wee bit warm mid day and into the early afternoon; this is definitely a run to do in the morning.  If vehicle traffic is abnormally high, some stretches of this route won’t be much fun to run, as there’s not a lot of spare room on the side.  There can be some traffic in and around the entrance to the Kahuku Motocross  Park, but the riders always seem to do a great job leaving plenty of room for folks to go by.

The Ugly: None.  For me, the worst is looking off to the hills, knowing I can’t run there.  Out past Turtle Bay, the road really has no spare room for runners, though I know people do run it.

Type of route: Paved.  Some is bike trail, some is something like a sidewalk (though not really), and for some stretches, it’s running along the edge of the road.
Good to run in the rain? Yep.

Length: 11.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route:Yep, with some risk.  The best would be to keep right on going, and to run to La’ie Point State Wayside.  That’d make it about 13 miles one way — and a perfect place for family or friends to come get you before spending the day at the PCC or the beach.

Elevation change on the run:Less than a hundred feet.
Water used: None, though if I’d had some with me, I’d likely have used a liter at most.

Where to start: Shark’s Cove, just past Waimea Bay
Where to park: Here
Point your car’s GPS towards: 21.645300,-158.063600, or Kamehameha Hwy at Kapuhi Street.  If you get to Foodland, you’ve gone too far.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes.  Water fountains at public beaches along the way/
Toilets? Yes, near the start / finish of the run
Medical care? Nothing specific.  Bring your cell phone to call 911, though there are plenty of people around.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Plenty, at the beaches along the way.
A place to change afterwards? Yes, public restrooms.

Rewards in the areaTed’s(Map)

You’d run this route when….you want to relax and put in some miles without getting smoked.  With so little elevation change, this is a great cruising run.

My rating: 7.  The sun can be mean, and the whole running-on-the-edge-of-the-road thing isn’t so cool.  I did not give it extra geek points for going to the entrance to RFF Opana, though the thought did cross my mind.

Music:  Jimi Hendrix.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here.  Yes, I am a nerd.   Flickr: here and here (I like this one). More photos: here and hereYouTube: here and hereEddie Would Go, here.

Old Pali Highway

Summary: The Pali Lookout rests on the only easily traversable point along the Koʻolau Range between Honolulu and the Windward side of the island, which gave it an important role in the history and development of the island.  What started as a chancy journey became a jeopardous path, and eventually a flat-out scary road.  As Oahu grew, the road became Highway 61, which still closely followed the original route down the windward side of the Koʻolau Range.  With the last major upgrades to the highway, around 1960, the old, original route was abandoned in favor of a tunnels and a new and faster descent, leaving the Old Pali Highway intact and as a great and underutilized place to run.

The Good:   Running the Old Pali Highway can be broken down into three parts.  The upper section leads from the lookout, down to where the route crosses under (yes, under) the new Highway 61.  Though it isn’t very wide, the road surface is still in very good shape.  And the mass amounts of foliage that crowd the road do just that — crowd it, but don’t block it.  Once you pass under Highway 61, there’s the Old Pali Highway, and what I think of as the new-Old Pali Highway — the easily discernible difference is in the road surface and material (and thus the road condition — the older road has held up much better).  Either way, the lower half is mostly covered with a nice canopy, providing shade for much of the run.  And it certainly is pretty — running the old road is definitely a trip through history, and a wonderful chance to away from people (I’ve only ever encountered people on the upper portion) and through some very pretty foliage.  Lastly, the grade is good; for as steep as the Koʻolau Range is, running up this won’t kill you.

The Bad:  The new-Old Pali Highway section is in meh condition.  I think that is in part due to more modern (and less durable) construction, but also in part to the large sections that are covered in moss.  I’d not want to run that part in a heavy rain; it probably gets a bit slick.

The UglyThey’ve started to charge $3 to park at the Pali Lookout.  For a place with no restrooms and no water, that seems a bit much.

Type of route: Mostly old road.  There’s one stretch, under the new Pali Highway, that is dirt.
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: ~5 miles

Options for the route:  Three or more.  One is to run the new Old Pali Highway; it’s a short leg that adds just a little bit to the overall run.  Another choice, after running down the new Old Pali Highway, is to keep going on Auloa Road and rejoin Pali Highway; from there, continue on to Kailua Beach State Park before turning around (this will make it closer to a 12 mile run).  The third option is to start at Ala Moana Mall and run up to the Pali Lookout, before running the old road.  Round trip, that’s be about 15 (I think).

Elevation change on the run:  I dunno (I’ve been running it without my GPS lately).
Water used: Usually around 60 ounces.

Where to start: Pali Lookout
Where to park: Pali Lookout
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Pali Lookout

My Google Earth file: (none yet)
My Garmin file: (none yet)

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Early morning, though, you’ll often find HPD in the parking lot, feeding the chickens.  Really — not making that up.
Picnic areas? Nope.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area: Nope.

You’d run this route when….you’ve had enough miles for the week, but not enough hills.  When your ankle is on the mend from too much trail running, but you don’t want to be stuck on sidewals.

My rating:  7

Music:   Guns N Roses.   And loud.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

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

KoleKole Pass

Summary: Kolekole Pass is a well known running route, but one that today sees many fewer runners than it once did.  In this post-9/11 world, access to Schofield Barracks, Lualualei Naval Reservation, and this historic road is restricted.  While it has historically been best known as shortcut across the Wai’anae range, these days it is a nice, quiet, and steep place to run.

The Good:  There’s little traffic on this road.  In fact, at during some parts of the day, there’s no through traffic at all, with only military vehicles heading to and from various ranges.  And it’s a nice little climb; the grade is steep enough to strain the legs, but not so severe as to bring you to your knees.  Also, the road is well maintained, and the side grass is regularly cut and cared for; for an out-of-the-way little side road, it’s in remarkably good shape.  Lastly, the road up has both great shade and a wonderful breeze, keeping the temp down during the hardest of times.  Time it right, and you can duck right into the showers at Richardson pool to clean up, before swimming a few laps.

The Bad:  Run what you brung; there’s no water along the way, no fountains, and a single porta-potty (that is actually pretty clean and regularly serviced).  While there are cars that transit the road pass, there are also large military trucks and commercial trucks; all of them do drive slow and are very good about making way for runners (and soldiers on ruck marches, etc).

The Ugly:Well, it’s not really that ugly, but there’s really nothing on the side of the road.  There are sidewalks for a good part of the way up through the military sections of Schofield Barracks, but that ends with the last of the motor pools.  From there on out, you’re running on the edge of the road; it shouldn’t be an issue.

Type of route: Road
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: 9.5 miles, from the Inn, up Trimble to the pass, and back down Lymen Road and the cemetery.

Options for the route:I’d love to tell you that there’s still an option to run over the pass, down the other side and on to the ocean.  In the old days, the military use to have organized run to do just that.  I have not heard of it being done recently, or of plans to let anyone do it (though, if a guard would ever give me the chance, I’d surely do it).  Also, there’s a longer (11.5 mile) route that loops more to the northern point of the post, before looping around and back to Trimble.

Elevation change on the run:I’m not really sure (I’ve been running up there without my Garmin) .
Water used:   None.  That being said, I should add that I run in the morning, and I often run in the rain in the morning.  It would be easy to go through 2 liters running up the pass and back, if not three liters of water.

Where to start: The Inn at Schofield Barracks
Where to parkHere (library parking lot, across the street)
Point your car’s GPS towards:  The Inn.

My Google Maps link: here
My Garmin file: None

Facilities
Water? Not on the route
Toilets? One posta-potty along the way
Medical care? Oh, yes.  Get injured, and just about everyone stops to ask what’s wrong.  Army docs are plentiful, and all are quick to call for an ambulance.
Ranger / park folks? Nope, not in a traditional sense.  The closest thing is probably the Tropic Lightning Museum.
Picnic areas? Yes, at Bowen Field and also adjacent to both Richardson Pool and the Inn.
A place to change afterwards? Yes — Richardson pool (0600-0900 during the week, but weekends it opens at 1100).

Rewards in the area:  There’s a Baskin-Robbins over at the PX, but really, there’s no super-secret bonus for running up this route.

You’d run this route when….it’s raining and the run is coming up.  Or when you’re wanting a harder 10 mile run; this hill is a very good one.

My rating:  8.  I really like this one.  It’s not all that picturesque in some parts, but running across the post and up the hill is a great, great thing.

Music: Military cadence.  No matter what time you run this, no matter the day of the week that you run it, you’re going to pass soldiers coming or going from the pass.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here Flickr: here and hereMore photos: here.   State Park Info: none

Kailua Trail, aka Pillbox Hiking Trail (Kailua, HI)

Summary: At the South end of Kailua, on the Windward side of the island, is a single ridge that divides the town from the restricted space of Bellows Air Force Base.  It’s not a complicated run, or even a very long run, but it offers glorious views, nice hills, a decent enough path, and not a lot of traffic.  It’s in a beautiful area of the island, and is as beautiful a place to run at dawn as it is in a rain storm.

The Good:  Good, good running.  Steep at times, but the trail along the ridgeline is just fantastic.  Low, low traffic — mostly hikers, and mostly folks just going up to the pillboxes.  The trail is very run-able, with only limited sections that mandate slowing to a near-stop.  On the right parts, it is ideal ridge-running — good trail, up high, right along the spine, with great views and few people, but plenty wide so make death unlikely.  With the trail head located so close to the Kailua Beach Park, there’s great support for the post-run — showers, drinking fountains, mostly-safe bathrooms, etc.  And did I mention the scenery?  Holy smokes — beautiful.

The Bad:  Once you get past the pillboxes, well, the quality of the trail drops.  Really, it’s just a matter of not really being able to see the trail as much as you’d want or need.  Yes, this is running country, just not a sprinting trail.  And once the sun comes up, if the clouds are gone, you will heat up.

The Ugly:  There are a few places where you can fall to your death.  No, they don’t sneak up on you or anything — but they are there.  Also, the path down the western descent is poorly marked; it gets the least use, I suppose, so it’s not likely to get better any time soon.

Type of route:  Trail.  Hiking trail, but trail.
Good to run in the rain? Um, if it’s a light rain, sure.  Large parts of the trail, though, route the water off the ridge when it’s a heavy rain, so you’d be on slick rocks in water.  I ran here in a heavy but short rain, and that was OK — just slick and muddy coming down.

Length: 2.2 miles from the Kailua Beach Park, to the far point overlooking the ocean.

Options for the route:  Yes.  Two of them, actually.  Option one is to drop down to the west side, and emerge onto Kamahele Street, on the far side of the (closed) road along the golf course.  From there, it’s a run back up the hill (blah) or a run around the canal and back to the beach (easy run, nice neighborhoods).  Option 2 is to keep heading down along the ridge, and head for the water tower.  From there, it’s a street run back as well.  Option 2 is the most poorly-maintained part of the trails — hands down.  Option 3, I suppose, would be to drop down to Bellows Air Force Base, and get arrested for trespassing.  Not something I’d suggest, though.

Elevation change on the run:  From beach up to about 650 feet at its highest point.
Water used:  Just going out and back is a 1 liter run.  Plan on 2 liters.

Where to start: Here.  Just past the Mid Pacific Country Club, on Kaelepulu Drive.
Where to parkKailua Beach Park.
Point your car’s GPS towards:   Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, Hawaii, 96734.

My Google Earth filehere
My Garmin filehere

Facilities
Water? Yes– at the Kailua Beach Park.  Good fountains, clean water from the tap, and showers — cold, but wonderful.
Toilets? Yes — at the Kailua Beach Park.
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? Have not seen any — at the park, or on the trail.
Picnic areas? Yes– at the Kailua Beach Park.  That, or eat on top of the bunkers.
A place to change afterwards? Great changing areas — at the Kailua Beach Park.

Rewards in the area:  A swim to Flat Island.  What — you wanted more?

You’d run this route when…. you’ve had your fill recently of speed drills, or tempo work, or other serious training efforts.  This is a great run to do with just you and your iPod and some water.  It’s enjoyable — a fun, fun run.

My rating: 7

MusicParty Ben‘s Sixx Mixx #6, with Go Home Productions.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here.    Flickr: here and here and here.   More photos: here and here.    State Park Info: here

Upper Waimano Trail

The Waimano Trail is one of the Na Ala Hele trails maintained by the city / county of Honolulu.  There is an upper and a lower Waimano Trail; the lower is on the floor of a valley, and heds in the direction of a waterfall, and the upper trail mostly stays up on the ridges and heads farther up towards the Ko`olau ridgeline.  The lower trail does link back to and connect with the upper trail, forming a loop and allowing access in the direction of the Ko`olau ridgeline.

This is trail running.  There’s not a lick of cement anywhere along this; no sidewalks, no bike paths, nothing but dirt and the wilds.  In fact, it’s hiking country — it’s not even very good running terrain.  As a hiking trail, it’s probably fair to decent; as a running trail, well, it’s slightly above average.

It’s good, in that it’s shady and features cool temperatures.  It’s good in that some stretches of it are nice and wide with long views of the trail ahead.  It’s good in that it’s a nice climb that it’s a killer. But it suffers for all the roots and rocks and uneven footing. It suffers for the overgrowth that now (JAN 2010) hide the trail itself out past the 3.3 mile mark; the grass and plants are so thing and high, you can make out the general direction of where to go but can’t see the ground well enough to know what your footing will be (it’s described by the country as only being “periodically maintained”).  And it suffers for the thin, thin sections that make swift footed movement a challenge, and it suffers for its mud and slippery surfaces.

This is a route for a Saturday morning 10km run, when all you’ve been able to do is run streets during the week.  It’s a place to go when it’s cloudy without a threat of actual rain.  It’s a place to go when summer is starting to settle in and the temperatures are rising, and you want / need someplace cool to go for sanctuary.  It’s a good 10km running route, and it’s a route that will let you run some as you hike the 15 or 16 miles up to the peak (much less running after the initial 3.3 mile mark). It is not one to run in the rain.

The 10km route — out 3.3 miles and back, all on the Upper Waimano Trail route, I’d give a 7.  Not hard, not in too bad of shape, not too dangerous.  The route I initially did — out and back 6 miles — is a straight up 5;  sure, I do it again, but if there was something better or something else I had not tried, I’d just as soon go do that.

A word of caution.  Not only does this route pose risks from the running surface — you’re very likely to fall off the trail, or trip on something, or encounter aliens — it’s also adjacent to a hunting area.  Between the Waimano Trail and the Manana Trail across the valley is a seasonal hunting area; it’s well worth checking not only the weather forcast for rain / flash flood chances, but also to see if the hunt is on.  A sprained ankle sure ruins a run, but a bullet to the gut would probably be worse.

Oh, and bring whatever you need; there’s no support for this route.  No toilets, no faucets, no nothing.  If you’ve got the trots, this isn’t the run for you.  In 12 miles, I went through my 100 ounces of water.

Here’s the Garmin file (here) and here’s the Google Earth file (here).  Parking is on Waimano Home Road, in Pearl City.  The path is to the left of the gate; you can’t miss it.  There are few signs for the trail along the way, but there’s ample ribbon / tape marking the way.  The Upper / Lower Waimano Trail split happens pretty early on, and the loop itself is not more than a couple of miles total.

Here’s where the trail splits.  Note the chain link fence; the initial part of the Upper trail is run right along the fence and the road.  No, there’s no way to cheat and run the road instead.

There are some stretches of the trail, like this little piece early on in the route, that are downright scary.  This is all of a foot or two wide, with drop offs on both sides — cliff on the right, and water canal on the left.  If you’re sure footed, sure, you can just haul ass right on through this part; those rocks, though, get pretty slick with any moisture.

These two stretches are considered good parts of the trail.  Easy enough to see where you’re going to spot your foot, visibility far enough ahead to keep moving at a decent speed.  This is good running.

And this is bad running trail.  Shoot, this isn’t even good hiking trail.  Any time you need to cling to a rope or wire — and there are several places on this route like that — it’s kind of hard to maintain your running form.  High adventure, sure, but less than stellar running.

And this is the stuff that just plain sucks. Yeah, you can generally see the direction you’re headed, but there’s no way to move at any speed and see where to put down a foot.  It was in sections like this — several times — that I found myself facedown on the ground, hugging the trail, after putting my foot down over the edge and onto nothing.

But mostly it was like this:

Yes, that’s about one meter across, from the wall of the cliff on the right, to where it drops off again on the left.  There’s some trail to see, but not a lot.  It’s not smooth, but instead has lots of rocks and roots and stuff.  You can run, but not at full throttle, not if you want to ensure you don’t go flying off that cliff on the left (those thin trees won’t stop your plummet).

Ko`olau summit