To get the Makiki/Tantalus Trail from Waikiki, head up McCully Avenue, turn left onBeretania, right on Keeaumoku, then right on Wilder. At the first light, turn left onto Makiki Street. You’ll cross Nehoa Street, then go left on Makiki Heights Drive, which eventually winds into Tantalus Drive. You’ll soon enter the Makiki Recreation Area andpass Hawaii Nature Center on your right. Eventually a chain in the road will force you to park and walk.
The Makiki Valley Loop Trail is located at the Makiki Valley State Recreation Area, just 10 minutes from downtown Honolulu. It’s proximity to the dense urban center of Oahu makes it a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers. Its extensive network of trails ranges from beginner to expert and you will see a collage of hikers from every skill level and aspiration enjoying the lush valley and striking views.
The Makiki Valley Loop Trail is actually made up of three trails. Maunalaha Trail and Kanealole Trail both lead to the Makiki Valley Trail which traverses the ridge line above the historic valley. The 2.5 mile loop created by the combination of these trails makes for a fairly challenging family adventure that will leave you tired but satisfied!
To get to the trailhead enter Makiki Valley State Recreation Area and park in the parking lot to the left. Grab your gear and kids and head a little further up the road you drove in on until you reach the Hawaii Nature Center on your right. Just past the Nature Center there are restroom facilities, a few picnic tables and facilities to clean your shoes. Make any breaks you need and then head to the bridge just to the east of the restrooms and walk for about 5 minutes up the path, through the ruins of a coffee plantation and past the taro lots, until you reach an intersection with a brown and yellow sign that displays a map of your adventure to come. Take a quick look at the sign to familiarize yourself with the trail and then choose a direction. To the right, is the Maunalaha Trail. It is the steeper of the two and laden with roots. To the left, is the Kanealole Trail which has a more gentle grade but is covered with rocks. Both are approximately the same distance, 0.7 miles, and take you up the ridge to the Makiki Valley Trail.
At the completion of your uphill trek, signs greet you at the top of the ridge pointing out the intersecting trail. Head to the right if you came up the Kanealole Trail or slightly to the left and down the hill if you came up the Maunalaha Trail. You will be on the Makiki Valley Trail for approximately 1.1 miles until you reach the last of the three trails which will take you back to the trailhead near the Nature Center.
At the intersection of the Makiki Valley Trail and the Maunalaha Trail, you will see a sign for the Ualaka’a Trail. You can take this trail for approximately 0.5 miles for a unique view of Diamond Head. Be sure to stay to the left, towards Round Top Drive, at the intersection and shortly afterwards look to the southeast over the vegetation and you should see the great symbol of Oahu. Depending on the foliage, this may be a worthy side trip, but sometimes it can be overgrown and the view blocked.
The entire adventure should take about 2 1/2 hours depending on how much time you spend enjoying the greenery and views and letting the kids explore. This is not a stroller friendly hike. Rocks, roots, and lengthy uphill sections make it impractical. School age children who have the endurance should be able to handle the trail with help, but watch out for very steep drop offs on multiple sections of the trail. There are no fences or barriers and one misstep can be disastrous! Toddlers and below should be in a backpack or carrier. Bring plenty of water, a hat, your camera, and bug spray! Be sure to review basic hiking safety precautions and check the weather, parts of the trail can be muddy. This is a wonderful trail full of vegetation, history, and scenic vistas and a great trail for the family. A wonderful escape from the city disturbances, we recommend this for your adventurous family.
Visit www.jackandjilladventureshawaii.com for more information on family friendly activities throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
Awesome street to take pictures on but so hard to find! I even printed out this review and took it with me but for the life of us we could not find the actual trails! We just stayed in the car and drove until we can to a narrow brodge, we walked out of the car just past the bridge and took some great photos, but beware the misquitos are mean out here!
Take a drive to Tantalus and Round Top, an area high in the hills above Makiki thatoffers breathtaking views of the city and a few good hiking trails. This is a great area for exploring, as the trails receive regular maintenance. There are eleven different trails to take here, but use good judgment; not all of them are suited for young children.
To get to the Manoa Cliff Trailhead, and a great family hike, follow Round Top Drive until you pass Forest Ridge Way. Look for a large turnout that offers parking on both sides of the road. The Moleka Trail is easily navigable and begins on the right. It’s only 1⁄2 mile long, and the views are outstanding. The trail leads to a bamboo forest and continues on to a wide area with a panoramic view.
The trail to the left leads to Round Top Drive, where it splits into three sections. The Makiki Valley Trail slices across the valley to the right; Ualakaa Trail veers left, goes for about 1⁄2 mile, and joins with the Makiki Valley Trail to Puu Ualakaa State Park. The Makiki Branch Trail goes straight for 1⁄2 mile and ends at the bottom of the valley at the Division of Forestry Baseyard.
These trails are very safe and are well maintained by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife. One note of caution: This area is always muddy and mosquito-laden, so dress accordingly and bring some repellent along.
On foot, once you pass the chain, the road narrows and becomes Kanealole Trail. From here a variety of trails cross over and run parallel to Kanealole. You can bring a picnic and spend the whole day up here enjoying the view, or you can do a quick twenty-minute escape to nature, where it’s unbelievable that busy Waikiki is less than 10 miles away.
If your family includes young children who are unable to enjoy the hiking trails, by all means you should still drive to the top of Tantalus for a king-size view of the island.