Pu'u Ohia Trail
Trail in Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve
Length (one way): 0.75 mi / 1.21 km - Elevation Change: 500 ft / 152.4 m
Pu'u Ohia trail is a hybrid trek through bamboo forests that leads into a forest reserve area.
For additional information refer to the "Route description" section below.
Rules & Regulation
- No Bicycles
- No Hunting
- Dangerous Cliff
- Dangerous Footing
Simple Trail Tips
- Stay on the trail.
- Check the weather
- Watch the time
- Avoid undue risk
- Read all posted signs
- Respect other trail users
- Pack out at least what you pack in.
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.
In early 1926 Territorial Forestry constructed the Pu`u `Ohi`a Trail to make the Tantalus area more accessible for hikers and tree planting crews. The Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt the trail in 1935 as part of a project to upgrade the Kalawahine and Manoa Cliff Trails.
In 2005, Mashuri Waite and Brandon Stone of the Botanical Society decided to reduce the number of introduced plants along the mauka (inland) slope of Tantalus to highlight and encourage the original native vegetation. With the approval of Na Ala Hele, the two men and others began weeding a fenced area near the end of the Pu`u `Ohi`a and Manoa Cliff Trails. Over the years their twice a month “linear gardening” has turned the restoration area into a showcase for native plants.
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 Environment
Mountainous, thick forest
Plants & Birds
In the restoration area look for native `ohi`a and koa trees and hapu`u tree ferns. Koa has sickle-shaped foliage and pale yellow flower clusters. Early Hawaiians made surfboards and outrigger canoe hulls out of the beautiful red brown wood. Today it is made into fine furniture. `Ohi`a has oval leaves and clusters of delicate red flowers. Early Hawaiians used the flowers in lei (garlands) and the wood in outrigger canoes. The hard, durable wood was also carved into god images for heiau (religious sites). Beneath the `ohi`a are hapu`u tree ferns with delicate sweeping fronds. Their trunks consist of roots tightly woven around a small central stem. The brown fiber covering the young fronds of hapu`u is called pulu.
Other native trees in the restoration area are the native hibiscus, koki`o ke`oke`o and the mamaki. The hibiscus has dark green, oval leaves and large white flowers with pink to red stamens. The showy flowers frequently fall right on the trail. Mamaki has leathery, light green leaves with toothed margins and prominent veins. Along the stems are the white, fleshy fruits. Early Hawaiians used the bark and sap in making kapa (bark cloth). They also steeped the leaves to prepare a tea as a tonic.
If driving, head up Tantalus Drive until you reach the very top of the Drive (past Nahuina and Kalawahine Trailheads). Pu‘u Ohia Trail will be on your left (mauka) side. Park in the parking area across the street from the trailhead on the makai (ocean) side of Tantalus Drive.
Please note that the Pu'u Ohia 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 Pu'u Ohia trailhead is 2.7 miles.
The Pu`u `Ohi`a Trail starts across from the small parking area along Tantalus Dr.
Climb steadily up the side of Pu`u `Ohi`a (Tantalus) on two switchbacks.
Break out into the open briefly for a view of Le`ahi (Diamond Head) and downtown Honolulu.
Switchback one more time and then ascend gradually through a corridor of bamboo. Ignore side trails on the right.
Reach a signed 4-way intersection. Turn right and down on a paved road. (On the left another paved road leads up to the summit of Pu`u `Ohi`a and down to Tantalus Dr. and the start of the Kalawahine Trail.)
The road descends briefly and climbs steadily through a bamboo grove to reach a telecommunications installation.
Go around to the left of the installation and pick up a trail. Behind the installation is a spectacular view of Nu`uanu Pali framed by the peaks of Lanihuli and Konahuanui.
Descend gradually through more bamboo.
Enter a native forest restoration area through a gate in a fence.
Descend gradually through native rain forest with views of the Ko`olau Range.
Reach the end of the Pu`u `Oh`ia Trail at a signed junction with the Manoa Cliff Trail. (To the left the cliff trail leads to Pauoa Flats and an overlook of Nu`uanu Valley. To the right the cliff trail leads to Round Top Dr.)
ginger. At approximately 0.5 miles, the trail comes to the top of Mt. Tantalus, where there is a Hawaiian Telephone service road. Proceed mauka (right) on this road until you reach the end. The trail begins again behind the left side of the light green building. Continue down through the bamboo forest until the trail ends at an intersection with Manoa Cliff Trail.
Do not use any trail or access road that is not delineated by name and color and that may also be displayed on these maps. The marked features are managed for public recreational use. Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk.