Summary: Running the Kamananui Valley Road through Moanalua Valley is a nice, shady run through relative quiet. Having been closed to the public for so long as part of the Samuel M. Damon Estate, its recent recent transition to public land makes this a great and still underutilized trail for a morning run. There are a number of trails in the valley (see below), but running the road itself offers a chance to zone out and enjoy the beauty of this valley. Add to that the length of the run, and the great infrastructure at the park at the entrance, and this is a great place for a run.
The Good: It’s quiet. Though the entrance to the valley, the lower part, is residential, sound does not penetrate up into the park area. The high walls on both sides keep out both sounds and direct sunlight (for much of the day, anyway); it’s not just quiet, it’s cool. The road is wide, and well worn; getting lost would take either talent or work. Early on, there are a few old bridges along the way; eye candy for the kids, I suppose; I’m OK running over them, but I sure wouldn’t try to drive over them. If you have an eagle eye, there are some petroglyphs (see this) worth checking out, and scattered here and there are remnants of the old estate.
The Bad: It’s an old unpaved road. Really, if you’re not paying attention, I suppose you could twist an ankle or something. And there is hunting in the area; try not to look, sound or smell like wild pig. If you’re one of those runners who wants to strip down and run naked through the woods, this is not the place for you; if the ghosts don’t get you, the packs of Korean Aunties will. Want to hear another horrible thing? There are numbered signs along the way — and no corresponding guide sheet (they are from long ago). I can tell you that #3 marks the path to one of the old homes, if that helps anyone’s OCD issues.
The Ugly: Nothing. The worst of this whole thing is that there are only 15 parking spaces at the park at the trail head, and between a few hikers, a few dog walkers, and the packs of Korean Aunties that are out in force before 9 AM every day, it can be tough getting a place to park. Oh, boo hoo. But really, if that’s the worst of it all, this place is pretty damn good.
Type of route: unpaved road
Good to run in the rain? Oh, hell no. This place would be a death trap if a flash flood, um, flashed. Those signs at the entrance, about the dangers from flash floods, are clearly there for a reason.
Length: Running the road is 7.5 miles, round trip. That’s just the road, nothing else.
Options for the route: Yes. You could split off at around the 2.5 mile mark, and head up the Kulana’ahane Trail. I have not done this, but looking at the map, and at Google Earth, and that it goes up to the top of the Ha`ikū Stairs, I’m betting that it is 1) not ideal for running; 2) probably a hell of a steep hike; and 3) you would very likely be at risk of falling or something along the way. At the wide bend, there’s a trail that heads off to the right (East) and up; rumor is that it goes up to Trippler.
Elevation change on the run: Around 600 feet. It does not feel like it.
Water used: Out and back, about 1.5 liters. Without the direct sunlight, and the cooler temperatures of this time of year (winter), this would have been a great run to do sans camelbak.
Where to start: Moanalua Valley Park
Where to park: Moanalua Valley Park (21°22’26.45″N 157°52’50.03″W)
Point your car’s GPS towards: 1880 Ala Aolani St, Honolulu, HI 96819
Water? Yes, at Moanalua Valley Park.
Toilets? Yes, at Moanalua Valley Park.
Medical care? No.
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes, at Moanalua Valley Park. Two picnic tables, and a kiddie play set. And lots of grass.
A place to change afterwards? Yes, at Moanalua Valley Park. It means changing in the stall of the public restroom, but this place is low use and well maintained. Trust me — it’s not Candlestick Park at the end of the double-header (and wow, I just showed my age).
Rewards in the area: Wow, no, not really. For me, it was sitting in the shade of the giant trees and cooling down. At 9 AM, the sun was just then trying to peak over the ridgeline, and the breeze was still blowing and keeping things cool. But no, there’s no shaved ice place down the street, no Hooters, not even a guy selling Tijuana-style hot dogs from a cart.
You’d run this route when…. you want to run and totally zone out. Or, when you want some hill, but not too much — like maybe after a hell hill run the day before. Or, when you’re looking to do around 10km, but also need to do some other par-course-like exercises.
My rating: 9
Music: Social D. You can run all your life, but not go anywhere.
- H3 was suppose to go through this valley; the estate fought the proposal, citing the need to preserve the valley as a sanctuary;
- The US Army helped to buy the land, in the effort to transfer it from private to public lands. Why? Well, I’ll let you read it, here.
- The Damon Estate? Old money. Seriously old money. Damon was a member of the Committee of Safety that overthrew Queen Lili’uokalani. The estate had ties into First Hawaiian Bank from way back, and lots and lots of real estate. “The missionaries came to do good, and in the end, they did very well.” The estate dissolved in 2004, when Samuel Damon’s last grandchild passed away.