Trail in Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve
THE MANOA FALLS TRAIL AND THE AIHUALAMA TRAIL WILL CONTINUE TO BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Hazard Rock Mitigation Fence and Trail Improvement Projects Update: It was the trail program’s intention to keep the trails open on weekends during the projects. However, as heavy rainfall continues to create extremely muddy and slippery conditions. Trail staff has determined that the Manoa Falls and Aihualama trails are currently unsafe for hiking and will, therefore remain closed until further notice. We ask for your patience as the contractor and Na Ala Hele staff work diligently to finish the two projects and reopen the trail. Keep checking this website for updates.
Closed from Mar 10, 2020 to TBA
Length (one way): 1.3 mi / 2.09 km - Elevation Change: 1,200 ft / 365.76 m
‘Aihualama Trail is a switchback trek mostly made up of bamboo forests up through the Manoa valley.
For additional information refer to the "Route description" below.
Rules & Regulation
Aihualama Trail traverses through bamboo forests on a series of switchbacks, skirting the upper west side of Manoa Valley. Hikers may use Aihualama Trail to access other trails in the Honolulu Mauka Trail System, including Pauoa Flats Trail. Aihualama Trail offers great views of Honolulu, Diamond Head Crater, and Manoa Valley.
Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books.
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
First try clicking on the "Get Directions" Icon at the top of the 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 you are driving, there are two (2) ways to get to this trail:
1. Via the Manoa Cliff Trail: From Round Top Drive, hike in on Manoa Cliff Trail to the Pauoa Flats junction (there is a system trail map here). Proceed on Pauoa Flats Trail past the Nu`uanu trail head (which is on the left). The next trail (on the right) is Aihualama.
2. Via Manoa Falls Trail: Follow Manoa Road into the back of Manoa Valley. Manoa Road ends at Paradise Park. Continue up the road, through the parking lot, towards the entrance of Lyon Arboretum. At the sharp left bend in the road to Lyon, proceed straight ahead. This is the Manoa Falls parking area and trail head. Hike 0.8 miles on Manoa Falls Trail. Approximately 150 feet from the base of the Falls, there is a marked trail that proceeds left. This is Aihualama Trail.
Please note that Aihualama 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 Aihualama trailhead is 3.85 miles.
- Nature Study
- Open views
- Walking path
Terrain and Trail Environment
Mountainous, thick forest canopy, switchbacks, Bamboo, views
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.
- Dog on leash
Amenities & Facilities
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.
- No Alcohol
- No Bicycles
- No Commercial
- No Horse
- No Littering
- No Open Fires
- No Plant Sand Dirt Rock Removal
- No Rock Climbing
- No Skateboards
- No Smoking
- No Swimming
- Dangerous cliff
- Dangerous footing
- Falling rocks
- Hunting area
- Narrow trail
- Slippery rocks
- Sudden drop-off
- Uneven surface
Plants & Birds
Along the way look and listen for the white-rumped shama. It is black on top with a chestnut-colored breast and a long black-and- white tail. The shama has a variety of beautiful songs and often mimics other birds. A native of Malaysia, the shama has become widespread in introduced forests such as this one.
Lining the middle switchbacks of the `Aihualama Trail are ki (ti) plants. They have shiny leaves, 1-- 2 feet long that are arranged spirally in a cluster at the tip of a slender stem. Early Polynesian voyagers introduced ti to Hawai`i. They used the leaves for house thatch, skirts, sandals, and raincoats. Food to be cooked in the imu (underground oven) was first wrapped in ti leaves. A popular sport with the commoners was ho`ohe`e ki or ti-leaf sledding. The sap from ti plants stained canoes and surfboards.
The `Aihualama area has a long and colorful past. The first scene of the grisly Hawaiian legend of Kahalaopuna takes place along `Aihualama Stream. In 1895, royalist rebels fleeing government forces used an old Hawaiian trail along the stream as an escape route after a skirmish at the back of Manoa Valley. The royalists had tried to overthrow the recently founded Republic of Hawai`i and return Queen Lili`uokalani to the throne.
In 1919, the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) established a small station, later known as Lyon Arboretum, in the `Aihualama area to carry out reforestation projects. For easier access to the mauka (inland) section, HSPA crews built a trail that switchbacked up the steep slope to Pauoa Flats. In 1978, volunteers under the direction of the Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter, restored the deteriorated arboretum switchbacks and built a new contour route connecting them with the Manoa Falls Trail.