Distance: 1 MILE
Elevation Gain: 300 FEET
Foot Traffic: LOW
Challenges: Muddy and steep to second lookout
Sights: K-Bay, Chinaman's Hat, Ko'olau Range
What to Bring: Water
This lesser known trail off a residential street in Kaneohe offers what some hikes on Oahu cannot, total peace and serenity. There is something very pleasant about this walk in the woods that leads to a beautiful lookout of K-Bay. It is one of those gems of Oahu that may not look like much on paper, but it is amazing nonetheless.
I had experienced another rough hump day at work and was in need of a rejuvenating hike, but wasn't feeling anything too strenuous. I remembered this little hike I had done back when I lived in Kaneohe almost a year ago. After relearning the name was the Friendship Gardens Trail, I knew this would be the perfect nature pick me up I was looking for.
Here is a very rough sketch of what the trail looks like on Google Earth. It is a partial loop, partial out and back hike. There's actually a map at the start of the trail with directions. If you feel like you are lost, just make sure you keep heading up!
The trailhead starts off a street called Kokohai Place. Driving up this road is a bit tricky because it is narrow and steep with a few blind turns. Just be careful and don't speed. Also, there is very little parking at the trailhead for this hike. There is actually a notice informing you that cars with their wheels on the road could be ticketed. Check out the Friendship Gardens Website's Getting There tab for more information.
The trailhead is easy to find. It's those random stairs leading into the forest...
And right away you will get some signs pointing you in the right direction. I actually don't know where the stairs to the left lead, but considering this hike is practically in someone's backyard, it's best to follow the rules.
There's actually an information station (is that what you calll them?) for this hike. Despite this hike being so short and secluded, it is incredibly well maintained. There's even an official website for it.
There's a lot of awesome vegetation and even some signs explaining what a lot of these beautiful flowers and plants are. I'm not a herbology buff (that's the right term right?), but I do enjoy looking at pretty flowers.
The trail is very simple. Several switchbacks along a well maintained and forested trail.
There are a few forks however. This is the main one that makes this a loop hike. You just need to keep your eye out for this on the way down so you can get back to the street. I was forced to go left at this fork due to some guys cutting some branches. I recommend going right if you can. It will be easier to spot the second fork that leads to the lookout.
Something about sunbursts through the trees gets me every time.
There's even some breaks in the trees that give you a little peak of Kaneohe Bay (K-Bay). Don't worry, it will get better.
There's even some bamboo on this hike to add its beauty. The bamboo isn't quite as large and impressive as the Pipiwai Trail hike on Maui, but I still get excited every time I see it. If you went right at the initial fork and make this a loop hike, this is something you will get to see on your descent.
The second fork in the road. This one will be very easy to spot if you went right at that first fork. If you didn't, you will just have to pay a bit more attention. This fork is what will take you to the lookout point of K-Bay.
One last fork. Going left will lead you to the main lookout of this trail. Going right will also lead you to another lookout... but with considerable more effort to get there. We will go left first.
Aloha K-Bay! I see this beautiful place every day I drive home from work and it amazes me every time. The different colors of the water, the many islands, and the magnificent Ko'olau Mountain Range all in view is incredible. I doubt it will ever get old.
There's even some great views of the Marine Corps Base. If you have the ability to get on that base you should do it. There's some amazing beaches and an incredible golf course.
But I wasn't quite ready to call it quits. I wanted to check out the other lookout.
Remember how I said it is considerably harder to get to this other lookout? Yes that is a rope. It is pretty steep and can be slick here. Also the view is good, but it's not much better than where we just were. Sometimes, however, my need to "conquer" each hike gets the better of me.
But still the views are amazing. I love being able to see all the places I've been in the Ko'olaus as well as all the places I plan to go.
This lookout also made for a perfect spot for some nature yoga practice. You can hate on yoga if you want, but I love it. It's a workout, puts you in a great mental state, and most important to me, keeps you flexible. I think yoga is huge for hikers, especially anyone who does hikes/climbs that require them to contort their bodies in awkward ways. I am convinced yoga has kept me injury free during my hikes.
The most important pose in yoga, savasana! I wasn't quite in the right position, but I think it's the idea that counts. After a peaceful and pleasant hike like this, I felt rejuvenated and energized, ready to tackle whatever the rest of the work week had in store for me.
Check out my short video of this pleasant little hike!
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Also Check Out:
- The Friendship Gardens Website that include the trail's history as well as how it is maintained