Summary. I got up early Friday morning and headed north to the Ka’ena Point State Park. I’d been there before; the kids and I went bike riding there once before, and I’ve been on the cliffs above it when I visited the satellite tracking station in November 2008. I knew it would be a semi-flat area, with a pretty rough “road” for running, but that the scenery would be nice. I figured it would be a 6 mile / 10 km run. I started out from the house at 7 AM, and was running by 8. The sun was out, but the run out to the point was in the shade of the hills — which was awesome. I’d read several references to the area getting very hot during daylight hours, so I had set out at that hour to try and get the most out of the shade. The run itself was wildly uneventful, though the scenery was very beautiful — large surf is running through the North Shore this weekend, and it showed up some out this way, too.
The appeal of the area, and the desire to run here, was linked to three things. The first was its history. I had first heard of the area in reference to the old road, which has been closed for 20+ years now. The big plantations and factories that had set up shop (and ultimately overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy) had built the road around the point, along with a rail line, in the closing years of the 19th century in order to move their products from the fields to the processing sites and ports. There was nothing else out there — they carved out the road and rail lines, at the cost of a lot of manpower, just to open up a means to move their goods. And then the new State of Hawaii opted to not maintain it — which struck me as odd and interesting.
The second was the surf. Ka’ena Point can get giant in the winter, when the big swells roll in. For the longest time, the photo taken there of Greg Noll on a monster wave was the largest documented wave. But having lived here a while now, I know that only a sliver of the numbers go to this area to surf, as compared to other North Shore hot spots. Big surf is big surf, as I see it — it’d be neat to see some big waves.
And then there’s the satellite tracking station that hovers overhead, staring down on this empty point. I am kind of a fan of satellites, so the chance to run through the area and stare up at all the golf balls has an unusual appeal to me.
Ultimately, I made the 6 mile run in about an hours, stopping often to take photos and to take it all in.
The Good: It’s very quiet out this way. Really, this whole NW corner of the island, out past Waialau, is so very quiet. I large part of this, I assume, is due to the Waianae Mountains jutting out to the point; you don’t accidentally get to this corner of the island, and there’s nothing else in the area that would draw people to the area. Also, the big surf was nice. Sure, it doesn’t get as pretty out this way, as it does in places like Sunset and Pipeline, but it was still very pretty. Lastly, six miles is a pretty decent distance; probably best is that I drew no blood, sprained no ankles, and broke no bones. I’d call that a good day.
The Bad: Damn, it gets hot here. It’s not hell, but only because at 6 miles, it’s bearable. And the old road is pretty well torn up. You won’t find any actual smooth areas for running here. Actual running means looking about 6 feet in front of you, to figure out a path over and around all the bumps and pits and things, while also eyeballing where to put a foot, given all the stones of varying sizes. Some parts of the old road itself get pretty crappy, but its saving grace is that there are lots of other new paths carved out closer to the beach; when the going gets tough, just move closer to the water and things will get better.
The Ugly: Nothing actually ugly about this run. It’s pretty fair.
Type of route: Unpaved road that’s at least 100 years old and totally unmaintained. It’s as good a place to run as it is to take the 4×4 in the rain.
Good place to run in the rain? Definitely. I’d love to try and run this again in a raging storm. It’s so warn out there, so cut to the bone, that a cold rain while running across the ragged rocks would be a neat adventure. It’d be muddy as hell, though, and probably pretty slick,
Length(s): 6 miles Options for the route: Continue on around to the West side of the island (maybe 14 miles round trip, that way). Elevation change on the run: Maybe 70 feet, if that.
Water used: About 1 liter. It would have been more if I’d try to make the run in the afternoon, for sure.
Route starts: Here.
Where to park: Same.
Point your car’s GPS towards: Kaena Point State Park, Waialua, Hawaii 96791
Medical care? No
Ranger / park folks? No, but they do come through the area every day. Nice folks, too, always willing to make small talk about the park.
Picnic areas? No
A place to change afterwards? No
In other words, if you need it, bring it. If you bring it, take it back out with you afterward. There are dumpsters at the parking area, though.
You’d run this route when…. it’s a hot summer night, and you can’t sleep. Get up, grab your hear, and come make the run while the sun is just getting its act together. Or when your legs have not fully recovered from the last hill run.
My rating: 7
Music: I think I’m suppose to say something like Zeppelin II, or Cream. But really, Keali’i Reichel would be a good choice for running here. I’m not ready to go back and make the run barefoot and covered only in thatch, but it’s a calm and quiet place to run, dominated by hard mountainside and strong surf.
Ka’ena Point video (flash format)
Ka’ena Point video (avi format)
Ka’ena Point video (swf format)
Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)