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

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

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