Hawaii October 03, 2016
This Just Might Be The Most Beautiful Hike In All Of Hawaii
The Hawaiian Islands are undoubtedly home to some of the best hiking in the country – and maybe even the world. And while we love our hikes through Waimea Canyon, along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, and to breathtaking Maui waterfalls, there is one little known trail that is perhaps one of the state’s most beautiful hikes. Nestled into the Ko’olau Mountain Range on the island of Oahu is the trail to Maunawili Falls, a stunning 3-mile trek that climbs more than 1,200 feet above sea level, and rewards hikers with a picturesque spring-fed pool at the end of a strenuous trail through the mountains.
With three different access points, Maunawili Falls is one of Oahu’s lesser known waterfall hikes, though its natural beauty is unsurpassed, and unlike the more popular Manoa Falls or Lulumahu Falls, it requires a solid 2 to 3 hours of hiking time - not including any time you spend hanging out in the pool’s crystalline waters.
Maunawili translates to “twisted mountain” in Hawaiian, and we can certainly see why - the trail follows the stream, which twists and turns along the terrain.
About halfway through the hike - after a particularly arduous climb, the forest will split, and you will be rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views of the Ko’olau Mountains, and even Kailua in the distance. From here, take the left fork in the trail that leads down a series of stairs built into the mountain that will take you to the falls - which you will hear long before the falls come into your view.
The trail is lined with ohia, lobelia, koa, mountain apple, rose apple, papaya, banana, ginger, and mamake trees and vegetation, and you will be surrounded by magnificent greenery throughout the entire trail.
While the waterfall is short - measuring in at only 25 feet - it is wildy picturesque, and gives hikers the opportunity to climb the falls and jump into the pool below. I personally love hanging out in this charming little pool, but it should be noted that - like with many waterfalls in Hawaii - leptospirosis is common, and you should avoid contact with the water in any open wounds, as well as your eyes and mouth.
While there are stairs built into the mountainside to assist in your climb, this area receives a great deal of rain, and is often extremely muddy. Many consider this a family-friendly hike, but do keep in mind that the trail is long, muddy, and extremely steep at points. You will also be required to traverse the stream a handful of times, so be wary of the dangers associated with rising waters and the possibility of flash floods.
As always, do research before you go, and pack a bag with plenty of water, snacks, a camera and cell phone, a swimsuit, towels, and an emergency kit.
Now surely, naming the most beautiful hike in Hawaii is an extremely subjective task, and we would love to hear about your favorite Hawaii trails on our
Only In Hawaii Facebook page. Don’t forget to check out these other contenders, too – Kauai’s Kalalau Trail, Maui’s Pipiwai Trail, and Oahu’s Koko Head Stairs.