Time: 1-2 HOURS
Distance: 2 MILES
Elevation Gain: 500 FEET
Foot Traffic: LOW
Challenges: Possibly muddy and slippery, Uneven footing
Sights: Honolulu, Ko'olau Range, GUAVA!!
What to Bring: Shoes you can get muddy
A short and easy hike located near Manoa, the Pu'u Pia trail will give you a nice taste of the wilderness--both figuratively and literally. The majority of the trail is shaded as you walk amongst the massive and lush Koa trees. While there is a chance you will have to contend with some mud, the trail is fairly simple as you gradually ascend to an open lookout point of Honolulu and the Ko'olau Range. Just before reaching the trail's terminus, you will pass by some aromatic guava plants, (hopefully) fresh and ready to eat. A refreshing little snack for a refreshing little stroll in nature.
Pu'u Pia had not been on the agenda when I decided to hike this summer Sunday. My original plan was to hike Manoa Middle Ridge, a challenging ridge hike to the Ko'olau Summit Trail. However, having been to this place so many times, and not taking the short trail up to Pu'u Pia, just didn't do the trail justice. Given that it had been awhile since I'd done a hike on Oahu, I felt motivated to take the quick detour to Pu'u Pia before taking on Manoa Middle.
This trail is a simple. It's a big loop through the trees that puts you at the top of Pu'u Pia.
If you've never hiked in this area before, the entrance to the trail feels a bit odd. The access is on a private road at the edge of a hair pin turn on Alani Drive. Unlike some other Hawaii hikes, this one is perfectly legal. Parking for the trail can be found on the street along Alani Drive.
After walking on that road for a few minutes you will hit the actual trail. And we're off!
Minutes into the hike you will come across a fork. In case you already forgot, we are hiking to Pu'u Pia. Kolowalu is a more demanding ridge hike that could take you all the way up to Mount Olympus on the KST. Kolowalu actually saw a lot of trail damage from one of Oahu's recent rainstorms, but it is still hikeable.
Other than maybe the paved Makapu'u or the completely flat Kaena Point, Pu'u Pia is about as easy as an Oahu hike can get. But that doesn't mean it won't have a few tricks. This trail can get very muddy and slippery if it's been raining.
The fact that this hike isn't too challenging is what makes it appealing in a different way. There's no rush. Just casually walk and get lost among the trees.
This spot is actually an important split off point to other hikes in the area. Just to the right of the trail is an opening in the trees with a steep downhill path with ropes. If you were to take this, it could lead you to Waiakeakua Falls or my follow on adventure--Manoa Middle Ridge.
But continuing straight will allow us to reach the terminus of Pu'u Pia. It won't take long before you break out of the trees and start to see some of the surrounding views.
Soon you will arrive at this flat open space that gives you an excellent view of the Ko'olau Ridgeline. I'll be making my way up there a little bit later...
But first, Pu'u Pia. Heading towards the summit, you will pass through a series of guava trees. Guava is a common sight along Hawaii trails, but this is the largest series of trees I've ever seen. The sweet and beautiful fragrance is so alluring.
But these beauties do have a dark side. They are actually an invasive species on the island, so minimizing their spread is important to protecting Hawaii's more endangered plants. The good news is you can help! When you eat the guava, don't spit out the seeds, but swallow them. It may seem weird at first, but those seeds have some health benefits, and after eating a few guava, I guarantee you will learn to enjoy them. It's a Win-Win!
And there's no better place to enjoy that sweet sweet guava then at the Pu'u Pia summit. You will get a nice, partial view of downtown Honolulu and the vast Pacific Ocean. Views and a treat, hard to beat.
While it is not the most challenging, Pu'u Pia will still give you that short and sweet taste of nature if you give it a chance. And sometimes, that's all you need.
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Also Check Out:
- Exploration Hawaii's post about Pu'u Pia