A Morning Hike to Maunawili Falls

I hiked Maunawili Falls Trail this morning with the Brothers Duke. Living on the Leeward Coast in Kapolei, I sometimes forget how varied the scenery is on Oahu. You can go from an almost desert landscape on the dry Leeward Coast to what seems like rainforests on the Windward Coast.

We left Kapolei at 8:00 AM and drove across the island on H-3 to the Kailua area. I always love the view of the Windward Coast as you come out of the tunnels on H-3 heading East. Google Maps seemed to have some problems with GPS in the area so we had to turn around a couple of times but found the trailhead (which is in a residential neighborhood) at about 9:00.

The Maunawili Falls Trail and Waterfall

The Maunawili Falls Trail is a 3 mile out and back trek and features a waterfall at the end of the trail and a swimming hole at the base of the falls below the Pali Cliffs.  Although the trail is rated by some websites as being “difficult” I would have guessed it t be “moderate”. We passed several families with children and they seemed to be doing fine. The trail has several markers pointing the way to the falls, but they don’t really seem necessary. What the trail does not have, is restrooms at either the trailhead or along the way so plan accordingly.

Many people, after making the trek like to jump from the waterfall into the pool below. Those with more agility and courage climb even higher to the side of the waterfall to jump further (try at your own risk). I did not make this jump but would guess it is approximately 60 feet to the water below. The swimming hole at the bottom of the falls is perhaps 30 to 40 feet in diameter and is deep enough that none of the people jumping from the side of the falls hit bottom.

Caution on the Trail

I don’t know how long it had been since the last rain in the area, but the trail was fairly muddy. My guess is that with the thick overhead foliage, the trail is probably wet and muddy most all the time. Keep this in mind, as you may want to take some bags to put your shoes in prior to getting back in the car and perhaps towels to dry your feet and legs.

Along with being muddy, the trail was also quite slippery in many areas, so if you go, be careful. There are many roots on top of the ground that are slippery when wet as well as rocks.  You will have to cross the river (stream) several times. While you can usually find rocks to step on to avoid walking through the water, there’s a good possibility you will slip and end up with your feet in the water anyway. I certainly did; more than once.

It was an enjoyable hike for a Saturday morning (we were back in Kapolei by Noon) and is one that I would recommend!

Larry-O