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
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.