Trail in Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve
Length (one way): 2.75 mi / 4.43 km - Elevation Change: 1,400 ft / 426.72 m
Kualana'ahane trail crosses a stream several times before becoming much toward the end of the trail.
For additional information refer to the "Route description" below.
Rules & Regulation
- Dog Hunting
- Dog on leash
- Wildlife view
The Kulana`ahane Trail was an old Hawaiian route once used by bird catchers, tree cutters, and plant collectors. The Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club gradually reopened the trail in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Contributing to the effort was Silver Piliwale, legendary hiker, ukulele player, poi pounder, and full-blooded Hawaiian.
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.
Downloadable resources are provided below
Terrain and Trail Environment
Mountainous, mixed forest, stream side, open ridge line, views
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.
Campers must find legal parking in the adjacent neighborhood. Please park responsibly and do not leave valuables in your vehicle. See below "Resources" section for camping permit application link.
Amenities & Facilities
- Nature study
- Open views
- Scenic viewpoint
- Sensitive area
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.
- Dangerous cliff
- Dangerous footing
- Flash flood
- Hunting area
- Slippery rocks
- Stream Crossing
- Sudden drop-off
- Uneven surface
Once you are at the park proceed up the dirt road to the chain link gate. The gate will have regulation and safety information signs on it. Please read the signs and proceed up the Kamananui Valley Road for 2 miles until you see the Kulana‘ahane trailhead sign on your left. The trail begins by crossing a stream. The trail will cross the stream 28 more times before the last 1/4 mile of trail. It is for this reason that it is NOT recommended to hike this trail in Heavy rains due to flash flooding. After the last stream crossing there is an Unmaintained Trail sign. At this point the trail is no longer maintained by our trail crew. Therefore, the trail becomes steep, narrow and slippery. It is recommended that at this point novice hikers stop and enjoy the small clear pools of the last crossing rather then continue to the end of the trail.
Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books.
First try to click on the “Get Directions” icon at the top of this page. If you are taking TheBus, click on the "Transit" icon at the top of the search bar. You may need to change the starting address to your current location. Clicking on TheBus link provided below will also take you to TheBus website.
If driving from Honolulu: Head west on Lunalilo Fwy I-H1. Near Middle Street, keep left on Route 78. Continue to "Moanalua Valley" Exit 19B. Once off the highway, turn right on Ala Aolani Street. Continue on Ala Aolani Street to the back of the Moanalua Valley. The Moanalua Valley Park is at the end of the road. Park in the park and continue up the little dirt road on food. Please note: The gate is locked and the park is closed at a certain hour. The time should be posted on the gate.
From Moanalua Valley Park proceed along Kamananui Valley Road, the one-lane dirt/gravel track at the back of the parking lot. Squeeze to the right of a locked gate. Cross Kamananui Stream seven times by bridge and ten times by ford. After the tenth ford reach a signed junction on the left across from a large koa tree. Turn left onto the Kulana`ahane Trail. (The road continues to the back of the valley.) Cross the right fork of Kamananui Stream immediately, climb the embankment and turn left again. Under a hau tangle skirt the foot of Keanaakamano, the middle ridge, which divides the valley into two drainages. Pass a stream gaging station on the left. The trail gradually ascends to the head of the valley while fording the left fork of Kamananui Stream twenty-three times. After the sixth crossing is small, but delightful pool on the left. Starting at the seventh ford is a series of dense hau groves. Turn sharp right under the hau to reach the eighth crossing and turn sharp right again just after the ninth crossing. After the eighteenth crossing is a short open stretch with native hapu`u tree ferns on the right and a lone native loulu palm on the left. Along the stream watch for wreckage from a plane crash farther up the valley. After the nineteenth ford, go over the foot of a small side ridge and around an old Hawaiian house site. Walk under another hau tangle around the twentieth crossing. After the twenty-first ford, cross an intermittent side stream. The stream splits in two. The trail generally hugs the main (left) channel on the island created by the two braids. By the twenty-third ford is a tiny pool and waterfall. At the twenty-fifth crossing, reach the signed end of the maintained Kulana`ahane Trail. Climb steeply up a spur ridge through uluhe ferns and `ohi`a `ahihi trees. Reach the Ko`olau summit at a saddle with an overlook of Ha`iku Valley.
Plants & Birds
The stream trail frequently tunnels through tangled hau trees with large, heart-shaped leaves. Their flowers are bright yellow with a dark red center, and resemble those of a hibiscus. Early Hawaiians used the wood for kites and canoe outriggers, the bark for sandals, and the sap as a laxative.
While walking along the stream, watch for the `elepaio, a small native bird. It is brown on top and white underneath with a black throat and a dark tail, usually cocked. The bird roams the forest understory catching insects on the fly or on vegetation. `Elepaio are territorial and very curious, which is why you can sometimes see them.
After the last hau tangle look for the Chinese ground or nun's orchid in winter. Its lovely flowers have tapered petals, which are white on the outside and reddish brown within. The lowest petal is a cream-colored tube with purple marking.
Toward the back of the valley 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.
On the climb to the saddle the trail is lined with 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.
- No Alcohol
- No Motorized Vehicles
- No Bicycles
- No Commercial
- No Littering
- No Open Fires
- No Plant Sand Dirt Rock Removal
- No Smoking