Pauoa Flats Trail

Trail in Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve


  • Directions

    Geolocation is not allowed
  • Distance

    0.72 miles

Contact Information



Length (one way): 0.75 mi / 1.21 km - Elevation Change: 500 ft / 152.4 m

General Summary:

Pauoa Flats trail is a lush canopy trek connecting to several other trails and itself ending at a summit in the Ko'olau mountain area

For additional information refer to the "Route description" section below.

Allowed Activities
Rules & Regulation
No Biking
Dogs On Leash
Allowed Access

Additional Information


  • Pedestrian


  • Dangerous Footing


  • No Bicycles
  • No Hunting

Plants & Birds

Near the trail map look for kopiko, a native member of the coffee family. It has leathery, oblong leaves with a light green midrib. Turn the leaf over to see a row of tiny holes (piko [navel]) on either side of the midrib. The kopiko produces clusters of little white flowers and fleshy, orange fruits. At the overlook are several native `ohi`a `ahihi trees found only on O`ahu. They have narrow, pointed leaves with red stems and midribs. Their delicate red flowers grow in clusters and are similar to those of the more common `ohi`a. Queen Lili`uokalani mentioned the `ahihi lehua (blossom) in her haunting love song, Aloha `Oe.

Dog Owners

Hunting may be in progress on or near this hiking trail. Hunting dogs may be off-leash while engaged in the hunt. Hikers must keep their dogs leashed at all times and remove dog waste while on this trail.

Mountain Bikers

Always yield to hikers. Do not slide around corners or slide down the trail. Careless mountain biking damages the trail and causes erosion. If accidents are reported or damage to the trail is extreme, the trail may be closed to mountain bikers. This trail is not an easy mountain bike trail.

Terrain and Trail Environments

Mountainous. Thick forest canopy.


The Pauoa Flats Trail gradually developed from routes used by early Hawaiians. In 1910 the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club reconstructed the flats trail as part of the Castle-Olympus Trail from Punchbowl around the back of Manoa Valley to Olympus (Awawaloa). Planting crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps undoubtedly used the trail during the early 1930s.

Route Description

Pauoa Flats Trail traverses through ginger, swamp mahogany and eucalyptus. It contours Pauoa Flats and connects with Aihualama, Nu‘uanu, Kalawahine and Manoa Cliff Trails. Pauoa Flats Trail ends at the Ko‘olau summit, which offers a great overlook of Nu‘uanu Valley.

Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books

Simple Trail Tips

  1. Stay on the trail. 
  2. Check the weather 
  3. Watch the time 
  4. Avoid undue risk 
  5. Read all posted signs 
  6. Respect other trail users 
  7. Pack out at least what you pack in.


If driving, there are three (3) ways to get to the Pauoa Flats Trail: 1. Go mauka on Tantalus Drive past Nahuina Trailhead to Kalawahine Trail. The Trailhead will be adjacent to a private road heading up a hill. Hike Kalawahine Trail 1.5 miles from Tantalus Drive until it ends at Pauoa Flats Trail. 2. Take Pu‘u Ohia Trail to the Manoa Cliff Trail and go left. Continue mauka on Manoa Cliff Trail until you reach the Pauoa Flats Trail intersection on the right. There is a system trail map at this intersection. 3. Hike Manoa Cliff Trail from Round Top Drive. The first intersection will be with Pu‘u Ohia Trail on the left. The second intersection on the right is the Pauoa Flats Trail. There is a trail map here.

Please note that the Pauoa Flats Trail (in yellow) is part of the Honolulu-Mauka Trail Network, comprising of 18 interconnected trails (in turquoise). The system may be accessed via the Makiki Arboretum Trail (dark blue) as part of an extended hike. The shortest route from the Makiki Arboretum Trail to the Pauoa Flats Trail is 3.65 miles.

Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books

The Pauoa Flats Trail starts behind a posted trail map at a signed junction with the Manoa Cliff Trail. Descend mauka (inland) down the flank of Tantalus (Pu`u `Ohi`a). (To the left the cliff trail leads to the Kalawahine Trail and Tantalus Dr. To the right the cliff trail leads to Round Top Dr.) Reach a signed junction in the flats. Continue straight on the flats trail. (To the left the Kalawahine Trail heads for Tantalus Dr.) Almost immediately reach another signed junction. Continue straight again on the flats trail. (To the left the Nu`uanu Trail heads down into Nu`uanu Valley and connects with the Judd Trail.) In a bamboo grove reach a third signed junction. Continue straight on the flats trail. (To the right the `Aihualama Trail leads down to Manoa Falls.) Walk through dark cinnamon trees on a muddy trail. Reach the end of the Pauoa Flats Trail at windy overlook of Nu`uanu Valley.