Friday, June 6, 2008

Bring the Bug Spray

Maunawili Falls Trail

Stream crossings, lots of steps, and a deep-pool waterfall await on this three(ish)-mile trail on Oahu's windward coast. Bring the bug spray since this can be a wet one.

We started our day at Lanikai Juice in Kailua. An acai bowl with extra granola would be needed to get me through this hike. We're still not sure how long the hike is, could be three miles round trip, could be five. Who knows! Luckily, the trail is really close to Kailua, so it didn't take us very long to get there.

There is no designated parking for trail users. We parked in the Maunawili subdivision on Kelewina Street. Make sure you remove all valuables from your car as break-ins are a common occurrence on Oahu (don't believe me, just look at all of the broken glass on the ground.)

The hike starts with a paved access road that leads you to the trail head. Follow the signs and head out. From this point on you'll be walking on a dirt path that can be overgrown with tree roots in spots and covered with leaves in others (yeah, I'm a klutz... I tripped several times!). Be careful, the path can become very slick and muddy at the slightest rain.

You'll pass strawberry guava trees (Kreg wanted to eat the guavas but some pretty little birds beat him to it - this hike started his obsession with strawberry guava), banana trees, bamboo, loads of torch ginger, heliconia, lobster claw, and ti plants. I was drooling over the gingers and lobster claws, they were so cool ... just growing in the middle of nowhere!

Ready to get wet? Cause I did. Well, if you can boulder hop those feet may stay dry! The three stream crossings are not bad at all. The water is shallow (unless there's been a heavy rain) and there are many spots to hop across. Some of the rocks can be slippery (I realized this first hand and went tumbling into the stream). So, if you don't feel like jumping from rock to rock just wade across (this became my technique, since I was wet already). After one of the stream crossings is a really cool embedded rock pathway, it's a welcome relief to the roots-ridden dirt path.

Eventually, the trail starts to gain some altitude. You'll climb up some rustic steps, and some more rustic steps, and yes, even more rustic steps! At the top, you'll be awarded with great views of the Ko'olaus Mountains and realize how out of shape you are. We were huffing and puffing! Breathe in the views (ie, catch your breath) and get ready to hit the falls.

Keep following the markers and start descending the steps to the gulch. It's a lot of steps ... take some time at the falls to recharge, cause you'll be climbing back up all of those stairs you've just walked down!

The falls are beautiful, tucked away in a canopy of trees with dappled light shimmering on the pool. Now is the time to bust out the bug spray. The mosquitoes love the falls (and my blood!) too. We were lucky to have the falls to ourselves, well I guess we kinda shared them with the mosquitoes!

A lot of people jump off the cliffs into the deep pool, just check out some of the videos on youtube. We didn't. It's a long way down (and I don't really like heights), plus there are all of these warning signs about stream water having Leptospirosis. So use your own judgement.

Ok, remember all of those steps you climbed down to get to the falls ... well, it's time to visit them again. This time going up! Whew! Those steps are not normal steps, they're like twice the height of regular stairs. Killer.

You'll reach the top again, but from here on out, it's all downhill! It's a good idea to start this one early morning (like before 8 a.m.) for a couple of reasons. 1, it gets hot at the top and 2, it gets crowded. As we were hiking out, we passed several groups heading to the falls.

Overall, I really liked this hike. I tried to stay dry by being cautious ... forget that! It's way more fun bounding over the rocks, running through the stream and getting muddy. Enjoy.

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