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

Poamoho Hele Loa and the Poamoho Ridge Trail

Summary: Poamoho Ridge Trail is a 3.5 or so mile ascent up the ridge to the top of the Koʻolau Range, after a 6.5 mile trip up the Poamoho Hele Loa Road.  The trip requires a special permit from the State, as the route crosses land belonging to the Dole Plantation, the US Military, and the State itself.  The road itself is very well suited for running, and two-thirds of the ridge trail can easily be run as well; the last portion of the ridge trail is unmaintained, and is better suited for walking / hiking, but it still well worth it.  With the permit requirement (and limit to five permits per weekend day), this is not just a wonderful route, it’s also one that is quiet and a place to go with a small group knowing you won’t see many (if any) others.  From the trail-head, the route is about 18 miles round trip and rises from 1100 feet elevation to 2600 feet.

Background (me and this trail):  I first started toying with the idea of running this route when I first started to spend some time on the Na Ala Hele website, which is about the State trail system.  It’s listed as a state hiking trail, but a few things caught my attention.  Like the need for a permit.  That it goes through the forest.  That it’s only periodically maintained.  That the Poamoho Hele Loa is 4×4 only.  I knew that those were just sirens calling to me, but that to others, they’d be a turn off — you have to plan ahead to go run this?  You can’t just get up and go on a whim?  Just running the ridge trail would be a 10km run (or maybe hike), but running the whole thing would be about 20 miles — who does that?  Well, I do, I thought.  I knew I should not run the route alone (few others on it, isolated, ridges with cliffs, unmaintained, etc), but I wasn’t sure I could talk others into doing this with me.  I hope this post is ammunition for others to talk their friends into doing this with them.

The Good:  This 20 mile run has three parts:  road, 2 miles of lower trail, and 1 mile of upper trail.  The road is great running.  It’s a good ascent, with the road taking you up about half the elevation of the ridge, and it’s well maintained, making it easy to run.  It’s not good, it’s great.  No one is going to try and run any real length of Maunawili while three-across; you can do that here.  The ridge trail is 3 miles long, and the first two aren’t good, they’re great, too — nice and wide, solid shoulders, great views, plenty of trees providing shade.  Even running on a day of sprinkles after a night of rail, we didn’t have slippage issues during those first 2+ miles of the lower trail.  And yes, it is as isolated as I had expected, and hoped; we saw one set of hunters just once (there were two sets out), and one group of hikers (they drove up the road to hike the last part), but other than that, we had the mountain and trail to ourselves.  And probably the nicest surprise was, as a military member, parking at the gym on the Helemano Military Reservation, and having a great gym at which to clean up after the run.  And one last thing — the permit.  It’s free, and can be done by mail or fax — which is awesome.

The Bad:  Cows loose on the trail.  I have cow and bull issues, I know, but there were some (4) that were out and about, and giving us the stink-eye.  We paused and waited, and they moved on.  Also bad for running is the last mile or so of the trail; it’s not suitable for running, for the most part.  After 9 miles to get there, though, it’s totally worth it to hoof it up that last mile, both to get to the top and to take in the views.   Oh, and you’re going to get dirty.  There’s no two ways about that – running or hiking.  For me, that’s fine — par for the course, really — but if you’re not expecting it, you’ll be surprised.

The Ugly:  If the sun is out in full force, this’d be a cooker of a run.  On a cloudy day, we all drained our camelbaks; I can only imagine what it’d be like on a hot, sunny day.

Type of route:  Dirt road and trail
Good to run in the rain? Yes, if you’re already comfortable with that.

Length:  about 18.5 from trailhead to the top and back; it’s 20, from the gym.

Options for the route:  Nope.

Elevation change on the run:  1100 feet to 2600 feet.  Mostly gradual, not too many steep areas.
Water used:  The full 3 liters.

Where to start:  When you get your permit, they’ll tell you that.
Where to park:   You can park near the trail head, or near the gym (like we did).  Or, you can drive the road and just run the trail.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Wait and see.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope
Toilets? Nope
Medical care? Nope.  Cell phone coverage all the way up, though.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Nope
A place to change afterwards? We did, at the gym.

Rewards in the area:  3 taco plate at Just Tacos in Mililani (map).  It was about $50 for the three of us to each have this, but man did it hit the spot.

You’d run this route when….  you love running on this island, and you have friends just are as crazy as you.  When you’ve already run most all of the other Na Ala Hele trails, and decide that, really, you need to try and run them all.  When you need a run that will push you a little farther than normal.

My rating:  10.  I would run this again today.

Music:  None.  Won’t need it, probably won’t want it.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (required)

More reading: here and here and here Flickr: here More photos: here and here Videos: here and here Na Ala Hele site: 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

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

Old Pali Highway

Summary: The Pali Lookout rests on the only easily traversable point along the Koʻolau Range between Honolulu and the Windward side of the island, which gave it an important role in the history and development of the island.  What started as a chancy journey became a jeopardous path, and eventually a flat-out scary road.  As Oahu grew, the road became Highway 61, which still closely followed the original route down the windward side of the Koʻolau Range.  With the last major upgrades to the highway, around 1960, the old, original route was abandoned in favor of a tunnels and a new and faster descent, leaving the Old Pali Highway intact and as a great and underutilized place to run.

The Good:   Running the Old Pali Highway can be broken down into three parts.  The upper section leads from the lookout, down to where the route crosses under (yes, under) the new Highway 61.  Though it isn’t very wide, the road surface is still in very good shape.  And the mass amounts of foliage that crowd the road do just that — crowd it, but don’t block it.  Once you pass under Highway 61, there’s the Old Pali Highway, and what I think of as the new-Old Pali Highway — the easily discernible difference is in the road surface and material (and thus the road condition — the older road has held up much better).  Either way, the lower half is mostly covered with a nice canopy, providing shade for much of the run.  And it certainly is pretty — running the old road is definitely a trip through history, and a wonderful chance to away from people (I’ve only ever encountered people on the upper portion) and through some very pretty foliage.  Lastly, the grade is good; for as steep as the Koʻolau Range is, running up this won’t kill you.

The Bad:  The new-Old Pali Highway section is in meh condition.  I think that is in part due to more modern (and less durable) construction, but also in part to the large sections that are covered in moss.  I’d not want to run that part in a heavy rain; it probably gets a bit slick.

The UglyThey’ve started to charge $3 to park at the Pali Lookout.  For a place with no restrooms and no water, that seems a bit much.

Type of route: Mostly old road.  There’s one stretch, under the new Pali Highway, that is dirt.
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: ~5 miles

Options for the route:  Three or more.  One is to run the new Old Pali Highway; it’s a short leg that adds just a little bit to the overall run.  Another choice, after running down the new Old Pali Highway, is to keep going on Auloa Road and rejoin Pali Highway; from there, continue on to Kailua Beach State Park before turning around (this will make it closer to a 12 mile run).  The third option is to start at Ala Moana Mall and run up to the Pali Lookout, before running the old road.  Round trip, that’s be about 15 (I think).

Elevation change on the run:  I dunno (I’ve been running it without my GPS lately).
Water used: Usually around 60 ounces.

Where to start: Pali Lookout
Where to park: Pali Lookout
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Pali Lookout

My Google Earth file: (none yet)
My Garmin file: (none yet)

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Early morning, though, you’ll often find HPD in the parking lot, feeding the chickens.  Really — not making that up.
Picnic areas? Nope.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area: Nope.

You’d run this route when….you’ve had enough miles for the week, but not enough hills.  When your ankle is on the mend from too much trail running, but you don’t want to be stuck on sidewals.

My rating:  7

Music:   Guns N Roses.   And loud.

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

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

Kamananui Valley Road

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 parkMoanalua 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


My Google Earth file
: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
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

MusicSocial DYou can run all your life, but not go anywhere.

Weather / Trail warnings (here) / Permits (only required for camping & hunting)

More readinghere and here.  Info on the recent plane crash, here and here.    Flickr: here and here.   More photos: here State Park Info: here and here.

That brown spot is where the plane recently crashed.

Odd facts:

  1. H3 was suppose to go through this valley; the estate fought the proposal, citing the need to preserve the valley as a sanctuary;
  2. 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.
  3. 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.