TRAIL NAME: Aiea Loop Trail
LENGTH: 4.8-mile loop
WHERE: 99-1849 Aiea Heights Drive, Aiea
If you’re looking for a hike that’s not too strenuous (no rock-climbing, no ropes, no stairs) but immerses you in a lush forest with native trees and plants, consider the Aiea Loop Trail. This pleasant 4.8-mile hike runs along the west side of Hālawa Valley, with views of Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and the Ko‘olau Mountains. Since it’s a loop, you’ll never get bored as each view will be different. At the trailhead, there’s ample parking and there are restrooms at the Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area, a 384-acre park where the trailhead is located. If you want to toughen it up, the much harder, 4-mile Kalauao Trail is located off an S-shaped curve at a junction on the trail. This hike takes you to a popular waterfall with swimming holes. The hike back—it’s entirely uphill—is your cardio workout for the week!
Don’t expect sweeping views of summit like you’d get at the end of one of the popular Ko‘olau trails. What you will get, instead is a birds-eye view of the H-3 Freeway as it intersects the pristine Hālawa Valley. The lookout point where you can see the H-3 comes midway through the hike and can be spectacular.
This is a popular trail for runners (though Mountain Biking is not allowed) so even though they are asked to give hikers the right of way, be aware they may come blasting up behind you, or over the next ridge and can startle you. Watch the weather before planning your hike, as the trail can be quite muddy if it has rained recently and you’ll want to be prepared for that.
The Aiea Loop Trail itself is a relaxing walk through lush groves of lemon eucalyptus, Norfolk pine and native koa and ʻōhiʻa trees. Although it is considered an easy hike, it is long at nearly five miles with some gradual inclines and a stream crossing. Allow about three hours to complete the hike.
The hike is a nice walk but still a great workout and as a reward, The Alley Restaurant (and its lemon-crunch cake) is just down the road three miles away.