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.
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.