Knowing we were planning a bunch of hikes, my mom recommended Kulanaahane after reading about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Reopening after many years, Kulanaahane stretches from Monalua Valley to the Koolau summit offering views of Kaneohe, Kailua and the H3. Nine miles roundtrip sounded pretty fun so Shasta and I headed out.
After taking the Moanalua Exit we turned right onto Ala Aolani, and drove all the back to Moanalua Valley Park. From there we walked through the chain link gate and along Damon Estate Road to the trailhead 2.5 miles away. With over an hour under our belt we still hadn’t seen the trail marker. I was just about ready to turn around when after what felt like eternity, one hour and fifteen minutes, we saw the Kulanaahane Trail state sign.
We immediately crossed a dry riverbed, the first of many to come, and were soon in some crazy hau trees. I thought of the men who cleared the hike and could just imagine what a b* it must of been! The noticeable ribbons marking the path made the trail easy to follow. It was also relatively flat, and luckily it hadn’t rained recently so the riverbeds were completely dry. Soon we were among ohia, ginger, and uluhe, a good sign that the Koolau summit was near. In less than an hour we were ascending a pretty steep, muddy, and deep trail. Fortunately, it was short so in no time we were looking at the beautiful windward side. Being close to the Koolau, Kbay, and H3 was stunning. It is definitely the reason why we hike. To the right was the Haiku Stair’s satellite. We could even see the makeshift guard station at the bottom.
As we ate lunch we wondered if it was possible to continue to Stairway. Knowing that was out of our league anyway, we carefully began our descent. The trail was slippery but we made it without falling. On the way out we passed some biologist still conducting research, one of whom happened to be a friend of a friend. We chatted for a bit discovering they were hoping to reintroduce the larvae of a native dragon fly but unfortunately discovered they would be eaten by the fish already living there. Pretty cool job!
After some running we were once again on that dreaded dirt road! I wasn’t about to waste another hour walking two and a half miles so we continued our run out. The hike took a total of 4 hours.
The actual Kulanaahane hike was pretty fun, but...that road! I despise hikes that include roads of any sort, let alone roads that take over an hour just to get to the trailhead so IF I ever do this trail again, it's going to take a lot of convincing.