Poamoho Hele Loa Road - (On-line Permit)
Trail in ‘Ewa Forest Reserve (Poamoho Sec.)
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The Poamoho Trail has been closed due to a large landslide event. The trail will remain closed and access permits will remain suspended until a hazard mitigation team has assessed the damage and potential hazards on-trail.
Closed from March 15, 2021 to TBA
Length (one way): 3.5 mi / 5.63 km - Elevation Change: 800 ft / 243.84 m
(Permit Required) Poamoho Trail is a ridge trek to the Ko'olau summit though mostly native forest.
For additional information refer to the “Route Description” section below.
Rules & Regulations
Hunting is allowed year around by permit. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and state/federal holidays are the only days open for hunting. Annual hunting access permits must be picked up in person at the Oahu Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The Poamoho Hele Loa Access road is the way to the Poamoho Ridge Trail.
Poamoho Ridge Trail is a spectacular ridge hike which traverses along a ridge through mostly native forest up to the Koʻolau Summit. The trail is quite narrow in sections and may not be suitable for novice hikers. The trail offers a wide variety of native plants - some of them quite rare. From the summit, Poamoho Trail rewards hikers with awesome views of Kahana and Punaluʻu Valleys and the north-eastern shores of Oahu. Poamoho Trail is also a good trail for bird watching.
Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books.
If driving, Poamoho Hele Loa Road is the access road to and from the Poamoho Ridge trail. You will need a permit to access through the gates on this road with your vehicle (see "Links" section below to apply for an access permit). Gate combinations are provided with permits. Once through the gate follow the yellow post through two more gates(unlocked). The Poamoho Hele Loa access road is about 6 mi. The road first goes through old pineapple fields and cow pasture. Then after about four miles the vegetation transitions into native Uluhe fern with Koa and Ohia trees emerging throughout the landscape. A map and directions will be provided with approved access permits.
Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books.
From Kamehameha Hwy turn right on Pa`ala`a Uka Pūpūkea Rd. toward Helemano Military Reservation. Just before a paved parking lot and the reservation entrance station, turn right on a dirt road, known as Poamoho Hele Loa. Immediately reach a locked yellow gate (see "Links" section below to apply for a access permit). Register at the hunter/hiker check-in mailbox on the right just past the gate. After proceeding through the gate, keep the fence on the right and circle around the reservation housing area on the one-lane road. At the back of the reservation, bear right to reach a second locked gate. Reach a third locked gate. Climb gradually through abandoned agricultural fields. The road jogs right and then left past a covered storage area. Pass a grassy parking area on the right. Descend briefly and then switchback twice to gain altitude gradually. Ignore less traveled roads coming in on the right. Pass a public hunting area sign. Reach a small, eroded parking area at the road end. At the far end of the parking area, proceed along the wide, graded Poamoho Trail on foot. Thread through a wooden barrier to thwart bikers. Descend gradually along the right side of a ridge. Cross over to the left side. To the right a short side trail leads to a bench with an overlook of the Wai`anae Range. Switch to the right side again. Contour for a long stretch through strawberry guava and native koa and `ohi`a trees. Cross two small gullies on a plank bridge and pass another bench and an automated weather station on the left. As the ridge narrows, the trail follows the crest briefly and then switches to the left side of the ridge just past an end of maintained trail sign. Cross over to the right side briefly and then resume contouring on the left side. Cross a small gully on another plank bridge. Work up a side gulch above a small tributary of Helemano Stream. After passing a grassy campsite on the right, descend briefly to the stream and ford it. Turn left downstream and resume the gradual climb. Cross over to the right side of a ridge and then traverse a more open windswept area. Bear right to cross a grassy strip with another small weather station. On the left and above are the remains of an enclosure to protect native snails. Reach a junction with the Ko`olau Summit Trail by two warning signs and a stone memorial to Geraldine Cline. The Poamoho cabin is located about a half mile along the summit trail to the right. Keep the memorial on the left and ascend a small, grassy hump to reach the Ko`olau summit.
- Nature Study
- Open Views
- Scenic Viewpoint
- Sensitive Area
Terrain & Trail Environment
Wet, mountainous. native forest, thick canopy, restricted by permit
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.
- Interpretive Signs
- No Commercial
- No Motorized Vehicles
- No Open Fires
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.
Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) detected on the Poamoho Trail
A fungal pathogen known as Rapid Ohia Death (Ceratocystis huliohia ) was identified just off the Poamoho Trail last week. The fungus attacks and can quickly kill Ohia trees (Metrosideros polymorpha). Therefore, to prevent the potential for further spreading of the fungus, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife request that trail and road visitors implement the following Decontamination Protocols & ROD mitigation:
- Clean gear, boots and clothes before and after entering forest reserves
- Boots should be washed of all soil and then the entire surface of the soles sprayed with 70% rubbing alcohol (a minimum of 70% concentration must be used for fungal disinfection to be effective) and allowed to sit for at least 15 seconds.
- Soiled clothes should be washed with detergent in hot water and dried in a dryer (temperatures in excess of 140 degrees Fahrenheit will kill any fungal spores that may be present)
- Hand tools/equipment – remove all visible dirt and any other contaminants and spray entire surface thoroughly with 70% rubbing alcohol and allow to sit for at least 15 seconds.
- Clean soil off vehicles with a power washer before and after entering forest reserves. Clean all dirt from the interior of vehicles with a vacuum, wash rubber floor mats with soap and water and then spray mats with 70% rubbing alcohol and allow to sit for 15 seconds.
- Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa (roots, trunks, branches, etc.) to prevent wounding.
- Report any dead ʻōhiʻa to the forestry manager with location data and a photo when possible.
Plants & Birds
On the trail watch for the native shrub naupaka kuahiwi. It has light green, pointed leaves and half-flowers. Initially the naupaka along the trail has toothed leaves and white flowers. Closer to the summit, a slightly different variety appears with smoother leaf margins and purple streaks in the flowers.
Throughout the hike listen for the Japanese bush warbler (uguisu), a bird often heard, but rarely seen. Its distinctive cry starts with a long whistle and then winds down in a series of notes. The bush warbler is olive brown on top with a white breast and a long tail. If the `ohi`a are in bloom, you may glimpse the native `apapane. It has a red breast and head, black wings and tail, and a slightly curved black bill. In flight the `apapane makes a whirring sound as it darts from tree to tree searching for insects and nectar.
On the upper section watch look for native mint herbs, na`ena`e shrubs, and manono trees. The viny mint has square stems and pointed, toothed leaves with red veins, but little aroma. The lovely white flowers are about an inch long with an extended lower lip. Na`ena`e has narrow, shallowly toothed leaves grouped near the branch tips. Its purple green flower heads are displayed in cone-shaped clusters. Manono has thick, glossy, oblong leaves with purple stems, small yellow green flowers shaped like anchors, and purple black fruits.
Along the small stream near the summit are native pu`ahanui (kanawao) shrubs and loulu palms. A relative of hydrangea, pu`ahanui has large, serrated, deeply creased leaves and clusters of delicate pink flowers. The shrub is a favorite habitat of the endangered Hawaiian land snail. Early Hawaiians used the plants for medicinal purposes. Loulu palms have rigid, fan-shaped fronds in a cluster at the top of a ringed trunk. Early Hawaiians used the fronds for thatch and plaited the blades of young fronds into fans and baskets.
After crossing the stream, watch for koli`i, an unusual native Trematolobelia. It has a single woody stem with triangular leaf scars. Its long, slender leaves are arranged in a rosette resembling a dry mop head. A circle of horizontal stalks from the rosette bears lovely scarlet tubular flowers in November. After flowering, the entire plant dies, leaving a ring of seed capsules.
In the early 1930s, an obscure route existed along the ridge separating Poamoho and Helemano Valleys. Informally known as the marsh trail, it was used occasionally by forestry workers, Army personnel, hunters, and hikers. During the spring and summer of 1934, the Wahiawa Camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps graded and widened the marsh route and renamed it the Poamoho Trail.
Over the years, hiking the Poamoho Trail became increasingly difficult because of the rough, unimproved approach road and the liability requirements of the lessee, Dole Foods Hawai`i. In 2007, Na Ala Hele (NAH), the State trail program, finally secured public access to the trailhead after three years of negotiation with Dole. At a cost of $75,000 NAH improved and fenced a two-mile section of the dirt road through former pineapple fields. Now the Oahu Division of Forestry and Wildlife owns the land but permits are still required for vehicle access
(see "Links" section below to apply for an access permit)
Permit Requirements and Restrictions
Wrongful activity on the part of a permittee may result in a termination of access permit or permanent closure of the road and trail.On-line permit applications must be received no later than five (5) working days before the requested day.Walk-in, mail-in or fax permits must be received no later than ten (10) working days before the requested day.Access is for Fridays, Saturdays Sundays, Mondays and state/federal holidays only.
Twenty (20) permits is the limit that will be issued for each day.Five (5) people will be allowed to access under one permit in one vehicle (4x4 only).One four-wheel drive vehicle will be allowed per permit.
New permits will not be issued to the same person for thirty (30) days. This will not apply to hunters.
Access will be from Sunrise to Sunset - Camping is not allowed now. Permittee will be informed of the combination to gate by permit – or other methods over time as determined by Oahu NAH staff.Hiking or biking on the road will not need a permit
Pet dogs must be leashed at all times
No dirt bikes, motocross, ATVs are allowed on access road or trail.
Hunting is by special permit only - Hunting access permits must be
renewed annually in person at the Makiki branch.Hunting Dog Supervision - State law requires that your dogs be leashed along the hiking trail until you are well within the Hunting Area. You are responsible for your dogs always.
Shooting any firearm within the safety zone is prohibited and a violation of the law.
Tampering with or vandalizing the gates, locks, access fence and auxiliary posts is against the law and will result in penalties.Sharing combination with non-permittees will result in instant permit termination.
Gaining access to the Poamoho Hele Loa on days other than what is listed on the permit will result in instant permit termination and potential penalties.
The Poamoho Hele Loa is under camera surveillance.Poamoho Hele Loa Access Road Warnings:Access is only permitted for 4-wheel drive vehicles. Road conditions can be slippery and dangerous when wet, exercise caution. There is a potential of getting stuck. DOFAW provides no support for stuck vehicles.The speed limit is 15 miles per hour.
Erratic driving or excessive speed may result in permit termination.The Poamoho Hele Loa is narrow – be vigilant of oncoming traffic. The up-hill vehicle has the right-of-way. Pay attention to turnouts for two-way passing.
For safety purposes, no motorcycles or ATVs are allowed on the access road.The Poamoho Hele Loa and trail are safety zones – discharging firearms is strictly prohibited along the access road and trail.
See "Links" section below to apply for an access permit.
- Dog Hunting
- 4-wheel drive
- Blind Corner
- Dangerous Cliff
- Dangerous Footing
- Hunting Area
- Narrow Trail
- Stream Crossing
- Sudden Drop-off
- Uneven Surface
Permit required for vehicle access only! See "Links" section below to apply for a access permit.
Warning! The Poamoho Hele Loa Access Road is a dirt road with narrow and rough conditions. Hiking and biking are allowed on the road. Access is only permitted for 4-wheel drive vehicles. Road conditions can be slippery and dangerous when wet, exercise caution. There is a potential of getting stuck. DOFAW provides no support for stuck vehicles. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour. Erratic driving or excessive speed will result in instant termination of access permit. Take note of turnouts for two-way passing. No dirt bikes, motocross, ATVs, or horses are allowed on access road and trail. Road and trail are considered safety zones - No discharging of weapons allowed on or from the road and trail. Gates and road are monitored by surveillance cameras.
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 not be managed for any public recreational use.