Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hiking the Kalaheo Hillside

Adventure was the theme of this hike.  I always see the Kalaheo hillside and the famous rock at the top (which the graduating class of Kalaheo High School paints).  But I have never before ventured up there to see what kind of views it had to offer.  The truth is, the views are very nice and what's more, I along with my two brothers discovered a secret up there.  Read more to figure out what kind of secret we found.

 The hike starts off in the corner of the Kalaheo High School parking lot.  You will see a pink strip of plastic indicating where you should enter the fence and from there you will find the trail.  This hike has lots of dry vegetation and can scrape and poke your skin.  Your movement would be a lot more comfortable if you wore jeans and maybe a long sleeve shirt of some sort, but of course you would be less comfortable from the heat.  The short trees can be quite dangerous as they slightly branch out toward the top and may poke you in the face.  So remember to protect your face.

The climb is very dry if there is no rain of course.  The vegetation is dry and the rocks are a little loose.  This along with the trees that irritatingly poke you are the only things that make this hike difficult.  Other than that you will get to the top rather quickly.  Make sure you get a firm footing as you go up as the loose rocks may come out from under you.

If you hike other areas of Kailua like the Pillbox Hike or Olomana, you will notice that there are these rock formations.  I have to ask a geologist why the rock forms like this, I find it very interesting.  Usually it is around the ridges of the mountains.  I am pretty sure it isn't man made, but I couldn't be 100% sure.  Anyone know why?
After you get to the actual rock you will get a very good view of Olomana mountain as you can see on the right hand side of the picture.  You will also see Kailua town (on the left), the dyke that separates Kailua town from Kawainui Marsh, and of course Kawainui Marsh.  Did you know that 4000 years ago the marsh was once an inland sea?  That's how some say Kailua got it's name.  Kailua literally means two seas.  One sea being Kailua bay and the other being where the present Kawainui Marsh is. 

Once you get to the top of the rock area, you will get a very nice view of Kailua Town and the ocean.  Be careful not to venture too close to the rocks edge, it possible you can fall off as the winds are pretty strong up there.  In the picture you can see two of my brothers taking a rest after just getting to the top of the rock. 

My brother Kurt pointed out Kainalu elementary school which you can see in the picture.  When I went there as a kid I didn't realize just how close to the beach it actually is.  Kainalu Elementary School is located at the end of an area in Kailua called coconut grove.  The name is obviously due to the amount of coconut trees growing in the area.  Look how many there are in this picture... tons.

The area is so dry and proof of that can be seen in the type of vegetation you will find.  We found several cactus.  What a nice view of Kawainui Marsh this cactus has.  Sometimes I wonder if I would ever use a cactus as a water source if I ran out of water, which I did that day because my brothers didn't bring water and drank all mine.  I probably would if it were life and death.  You?

This is a close up view of the rock.  The colors of Kalaheo High School are blue and orange.  I don't know what this rock was supposed to represent.  Looked like just splattered paint on the rock.  The tradition of painting the rock on the Kalaheo Hillside was going on for a while.  I don't know if this is actually allowed... probably not.  But as far as I remember it has always been done every year, and I don't see that tradition ending anytime soon.

The rock is not located at the top of the hill.  You will have to climb a little more to get to the top.  After you get to the top you can go right or left, as there is a trail that follows the ridge line of the hillside.  I would suggest going to the right (heading towards Aikahi).  Me and my brother Kory went to the left and had to trail blaze eventually.  If you do go to the left watch out for barbed wire.  It tends to be sorta hidden in the vegetation.  In the background is a view of Kaneohe Bay. 

SURPRISE!  We didn't even know it existed.  You will get to this location if you decide to turn a right after you get to the top of the hill above the rock.  This is a full blown elaborate bike park.  It looks like a bunch of people took shovels, hammers, wood, and nails and built the thing with their bare hands.  It was the coolest thing running through the trails of the bike park with my brothers.  Some of the ramps though seemed quite scary.  I wouldn't mind bringing a mountain bike out here and trying some of the trails though. 

View kalaheo hillside hike in a larger map

Notice how whoever built the bike park did a good job of making these makeshift bridges.  We all walked across and it seemed to be sturdy.

The Kalaheo Hillside Hike Experience

This hike was really fun as it offered outstanding views of Kailua and Kaneohe and had the bike park surprise.  Next time I come I think I'll bring a bike on down and try some of the trails.  You will notice that people really put a lot of effort into making this park. I hope you'll get a chance to experience the Kalaheo Hillside for yourself.

Hawaiian Language Glossary

Kawainui:  Big water
Kainalu:  Ocean wave


  1. Where do you get all of the info on these trails from?? Thanks for sharing! I want to do more hiking esp. since I have a goal to do 10 unique trails for my 101 in 1001. hehehehe I'll have to try this one too. The story about your brother drinking all your water is hilarious! It's cool that you drank the cactus water though ...very interesting. LOL

  2. Haha! Mary I didn't actually drink the cactus water... I was thinking about it though. Actually every time I look at a mountain or hill, I always assume there is a trail on it. After that I will usually look on google maps. Usually if you look close enough at a mountain or hill, you will see trails. The rest is easy... or hard depending on the hike.


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