Time: 2-3 HOURS
Distance: 2.8 MILES
Elevation Gain: 500 FEET
Foot Traffic: MODERATE
Challenges: Muddy, Some steep and slippery Descents
Sights: Waimano Valley, The Falls, Ko'olau Range, Waianae Range
What to Bring: Snack, Water, Swimsuit
Located in the center of Oahu near Pearl City, this gem has a lot to offer for such a short hike. It begins along the Manana Ridge Trail where you walk along a shaded path with some periodic lookouts of Manana Valley and Waimano Valley. The hike the heads downhill where you will tackle a steep and muddy descent to the floor of Waimano Valley. All that slipping and sliding will be worth it because at the end you will arrive at Waimano Falls, a multi-level waterfall with enough water for swimming and even cliff jumping.
It had been a rough Veteran's Day Weekend. My roomate's (and by extension my) dog had gotten in two fights with other dogs, it had been raining nonstop, and my house was robbed and my Canon camera stolen. On top of all of that I hadn't been hiking in 3 weeks! Something had to change. On Sunday afternoon some light entered the weekend (literally) as the sun began to peak through the clouds. I decided to take advantage of all that rain and knock out a little waterfall hike. I'd seen this one on Unreal Hawaii a while back and decided this was the one to try.
Here's the hike. It's simple, you hike along Manana Ridge and then descend into Waimano Valley to reach the falls. This hike should not be confused with Waimano Ridge which is actually one ridge over to the right. That's a pretty cool hike with similar views and also some tunnels you can explore.
The trailhead is located at the end of Komo Mai Drive beyond this gate. You are free to park along the road, just don't park beyond the no parking signs at the end of the cul-de-sac.
We start along the Manana Trail.
Nothing to the first part. Just a walk along a partially shaded dirt trail.
There are a few good lookout points. Let's climb up this hill for a better perspective.
Here's a shot looking East towards Waimano Valley. That adjacent ridge is Waimano Ridge, where those irrigation tunnels are located.
And here's a shot looking west. Those cloud covered peaks are part of the Waianae Range, one of the two mountain ranges on Oahu. The other is the Ko'olau Range, which we are currently hiking.
Onward! There were a few large puddles along the trail, which is a good sign. My last waterfall hike was to Kalauao Falls off the Aiea Loop Trail. Despite some significant rainfall the flow was pretty much nonexistent during that hike. Let's hope today is better...
After 20-25 minutes you will reach this sign. Follow it to the right.
Immediately after, you will run into this sign. Clearly we are heading right to the waterfallI. I actually didn't know you could reach the Ko'olau Range from this trail. Quite the long hike (10+ miles) but I might have to come back and do that some day.
The trail is a nice gradual downhill until this point, known as Cardiac Hill. If it's muddy it may be a bit slippery going down.
But I can tell you going up is much more of a struggle. I was definitely getting my cardio in on the return trip.
After a couple rocky descents that may require a little bit of balance and coordination, you will reach a point where the trail T's. I was lucky to run in to a few people that told me to go LEFT here. Apparently, right will lead you to the falls, but the trail is much more difficult and less direct.
You will break out of the trees for a short moment. I could hear a whirring in the distance. Was that the wind or could it be the falls?
We will find out soon enough. It's the final descent.
And there she is! Waimano Falls! This is the base level of the three tiered fall. This part has a pool deep enough for some wading. Let's go up to see the real flow. To get on top of the waterfall, there's a path that leads up the left side.
And now a shot from the top. I loved listening to the water crashing into the pool below.
But I guess it's time to be social. Back down at level one is where the rope swing is located. People climb on that and drop off in to the water. Others just cliff jump. It's not too high, maybe 10-15 feet.
And of course the money shot. It really was a difficult weekend for me, I won't lie. But when you come to places like this, all those problems simply wash away.
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Also Check Out:
- Unreal Hawaii's Post about this hike