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

Facilities

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

A Return to Running

Well, that was interesting.

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.

At Lost Lake, on Victory Base Complex

The end of the year

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.
  • I really have quit Nike.  Loved ya, but it just didn’t work out.  And no, I’m not considering getting back together.
  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 .
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.

Schofield-Waikane Trail

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

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

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.

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

Gunstock Half Marathon

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

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

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.

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

More reading: here. Photos: here

The Big Schofield Loop

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 startRichardson Pool.
Where to park: Same (Google Maps)
Point your car’s GPS towards: Burr Street at Cadet Sheridan Road, Schofield Barracks, HI 96786

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

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.

Music:  Whatever Jody is calling.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required — well, not really)

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here

Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail

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 towardshere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: 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.

Rewards in the area:  The truly stunning view.  That, and the Kona Brewing Company restaurant.

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.

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

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

Running the Ridges of Hau`ula

Summary:  Up the windward side, just south of the Polynesian Cultural Center and the mo’o of Lāʻie, is the town of Hau`ula.  It’s home to two great ridges with state trails, and they’re both well worth the drive.  The Papali Trail on the Ma`akua Ridge features great trail running, lots of ascent and descent, and great places to see the sun rise, while the  Hau`ula Loop Trail skirts across from the Kipapau Valley and have some great ironwood forest.  There’s lots of shade, and cool temperatures prevail in large part to the gentle breezes.

The Good:  The trails are empty;  Hau`ula is definitely off the beaten path, and few venture out that far up the windward coast just to go hiking.  The trails are both in good shape right now; the Na Ala Hele volunteer crew has been out on the Papali Trail recently and touched up some spots.  At less than 3 miles, each loop is a pretty decent length and when strung together, they make a nice ~7 mile run.  The elevation change makes these loops a challenge, but not some insane punishment session; the loop trailheads are at about 100 feet of elevation, and each loop crosses two ridges and peak somewhere around 750 feet of elevation.  Access to the state beach, just down the road from the access road, is an incredible plus; not only is it stunningly beautiful itself, it has clean bathrooms, good parking, nice outdoor showers (that were cool but not cold), and conveniently just down from a 7-11.

The Bad:  This is trail running, so, no, it’s not smooth.  I busted up an ankle pretty good on a rock on the Hau`ula Loop Trail, not long after I’d caught a toe on a loop of tree root that almost sent me over the edge and down into the ravine.  For a trail run, these are good, good trails — they’re just not the bike path on the North Shore.

The Ugly:  Nothing.  It’s a great running area, with great support nearby and awesome places to go to watch the sun come up.  Nothing ugly about it.

Type of route:  Trail.  Oh, and hills.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  Though the trails are cut into the side slope, they’re pretty wide — wide enough to make me comfortable enough to say go run them in the rain — just take someone with you.

Length: I did both loops and went up the gulch, to where the road is blocked.  All told, that and back out to the beach was 7 miles.

Options for the route: You could hop the fence and run the old & CLOSED gulch trail, but don’t do it.  They closed that trail in 1999, due to the flash flood danger, and it’s not been maintained since.  Cough cough.

Elevation change on the run: Beach to about 750 feet.  Twice
Water used: 2 liters.

Where to start: Hau‘ula Beach Park.  From there, it’s up Hau`ula Homestead Road and straight into the access road (just keep going straight, when Hau`ula Homestead Road bends left)
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Hau‘ula Beach Park, Hauula, HI 96717

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? At Hau‘ula Beach Park.
Toilets? At Hau‘ula Beach Park.
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes — at Hau‘ula Beach Park and up on Papali Trail.
A place to change afterwards? At Hau‘ula Beach Park.

Rewards in the area:  I’d recommend you pack some breakfast, and take your reward at sunrise.

You’d run this route when….  you want some strength training.  When you have enough time to drive out there.  When you want to run longer, but need a way to cut it shorter just in case.

My rating:  8.  It’d score higher with me if there were options for going longer.

Music: I told my iPod that I thought Keali`i Reichel would be most appropriate to play.  It said no, and gave me a lot of Green Day.  I still think Keali`i Reichel would have been better.

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

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

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

Kailua Beach Park to Nuuanu Pali State Wayside

Summary: For as long as I have been running up and down from Nuuanu Pali State Wayside, aka the Pali lookout, I’ve had my eye on a run from the beach in Kailua to the Nuuanu Pali and back.  From my best guesstimation, I figured it’d be about 13 miles to do it.  Starting at the Kailua Beach Park in Kailua seemed like a perfect fit; I’d used it as a base of operations for a number of runs up to the pillboxes, and to the area around Kailua and Bellows Air Station.  The run from there up to Nuuanu Pali is a mix of nice, flat road running, with a moderate climb up the old road to the lookout itself.  One key appeal of this route is the shade, while the other is in running roads — old and new.  All told, it worked out to be just about 13 miles on the nose, and it’s as good a run in the rain as it is on a sunny day.

The Good:  Right distance, right difficulty.  I’ll be honest — 13-15 miles is where I’m happiest.  And really, I’m not a gazelle, so a good climb works just fine for me, too.  I think I was no more than 20 minutes off my normal time for a half marathon, a lot of which was due to the shade and the road.  The roads are a real plus — the old Pali Highway is a great escape for running, a chance to run an abandoned road that is still in very good shape (and that features some great scenery).  And the park in Kailua is a great place to start and finish — plenty of parking, plenty of water, nice showers, clean bathrooms, and nice changing rooms.

The Bad:  I don’t know if there’s such a thing as rush hour in Kailua, but if there is, running along Auloa Road might be tricky — no sidewalk, and the shoulder drops off quickly.  But we are talking about Maunawili, after all — if three cars pass, I think that’d be the rush.  There’s the one stretch on the old Pali Highway, where the trail goes under the new highway and careful footing is required; I can’t see it being fatal to anyone, though.  Also, there’s no water along the way, nothing at Nuuanu Pali that I’ve ever found.  So, you’ll need to bring whatever you may need (and with all the shade along the way, 2 liters should be enough for most days).

The Ugly:  None, that I know of.  Nice route, nice climb, nice quiet.

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

Length: 13.1 roundtrip

Options for the route:  Yep – the Waimanalo trail instead of along the roads.  makes the run about 22 miles total, instead of the 13.1 miles.

Elevation change on the run: ~1100 feet up to Nuuanu Pali.
Water used: 2.5 liters.

Where to start:  Kailua Beach Park
Where to park:  Kailua Beach Park
Point your car’s GPS towards526 Kawailoa Road at Alala Road, Kailua, Hawaii 96734

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the start / finish point
Toilets? Yes, at the start / finish point
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes, at the start / finish point
A place to change afterward? Yes

Rewards in the area:  Step into the ocean.  That works for me every time.  If that’s not enough, swing my Moke’s Bread and Breakfast for some grinds; me, I’ll stick to the dip.

You’d run this route when….  you’re in the mood for a nice climb.  Or you’re nursing an ankle and want to stay off the trails.  Or there’s a full moon out, and not a cloud in the sky.

My rating:  8

MusicMash-Up Your Bootz, Volume 36.  That, and their Best of 2009 set.

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

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here and here and here.   More photos: here and here and herePark Info: here and here See also: here