UPDATE - The Backpackers Guide to Hawai`i

Ko`olau Summit (Pupukea to La`ie)



A permit is required from the U.S. Army. See the Ko`olau Summit trip update for the address.


Trailhead Directions

Distance: (downtown Honolulu to Pupukea trailhead)- 36 mi
Driving Time: 1 hr

At Punchbowl St. get on Lunalilo Fwy (H-1) heading `ewa (west).
Near Middle St. keep left on Rte 78 west (exit 19B, Moanalua Rd.) to `Aiea.
By Aloha Stadium bear right to rejoin H-1 to Pearl City.
Take H-2 freeway (exit 8A) to Wahiawa.
As the freeway ends, continue on Rte 99 north (Wilikina Dr.) bypassing Wahiawa.
Pass Schofield Barracks on the left.
The road narrows to two lanes, dips and then forks. Take the right fork to Hale`iwa (Kamananui Rd, but still Rte 99 north).
At the road end turn left on Kamehameha Hwy.
Pass Dole Plantation on the right.
Before entering Hale`iwa, reach an intersection. Keep right on Joseph P. Leong Hwy, better known as Hale`iwa Bypass (Rte 83). (To the left Kamehameha Hwy continues into Hale`iwa town.)
The bypass becomes Kamehameha Hwy (still Rte 83).
Go around Waimea Bay, passing Waimea Falls Park on the right.
At the first major intersection after the bay turn right on Pupukea Rd. by Foodland Supermarket.
Switchback once up a small pali (cliff).
Drive to the end of the paved road at Camp Pupukea (elev. 960 ft). Park off the road near the entrance to the Boy Scout camp. Leave plenty of room for vehicles exiting the camp and the farm across the street.


Day One - Pupukea to La`ie

Length: 7.4 mi
Elev. Gain: 1,300 ft

Proceed along the dirt road past the Boy Scout camp.
Go around a locked gate and enter Kahuku Range, an Army training area.
On the right pass an abandoned cattle loading ramp in a stand of ironwoods.
Reach a junction. Keep left on the main road. (The dirt road to the right through the locked McCormack Gate is Pa`ala`a Uka Pupukea Rd.)
Shortly afterward reach a signed junction at the edge of a grove of paperbark trees. Continue straight on the dirt road. (To the left the Kaunala Trail contours below the ridge.)
Climb along the up-and-down ridge through mostly introduced forest. Look for an occasional kukui or native koa tree downslope.
Pass a covered picnic table on the left.
Reach another junction by some Cook pines. Continue straight on the main road. (The road to the left is the return portion of the Kaunala loop.)
Just after that junction walk around to the left of a locked gate and descend briefly.
Resume the gradual climb along the ridge, now lined with white-barked albizia and ironwood trees.
The road descends gradually and then curves left.
As the road begins to climb again, reach a junction with another dirt road in a grove of albizia trees. Turn right on the side road, which is the Ko`olau Summit Trail.
The dirt road soon deteriorates and then narrows to a trail by the last albizia tree.
Climb gradually along the right side of the ridge below its top. On the hillside to the right are some native loulu palms.
Cross the ridgeline and contour along the windward (left) side of the ridge. Along the trail are native `ohi`a trees and naupaka kuahiwi shrubs.
Reach signed Black Junction. Turn right to continue on the Summit Trail. (The side trail to the left leads to a lovely windward lookout.)
Keep left in a paperbark grove.
Switch to the leeward (right) side of the ridge. In the distance are the Wai`anae Range and Ka`ena Point.
Walk through an open section with views to windward and leeward.
Switch to the left side of the ridge through strawberry guava trees.
On the left pass an intermittent stream in a dense stand of rose apple.
Swing right and then left through a flat, grassy, wet area.
Ascend steadily on the right side of the ridge around a large hill.
Reach a junction on the leeward side of the hill. Turn left and up on a rough side trail. (To the right the Ko`olau Summit Trail contours around the hill.)
Climb steeply up the side of the hill through native vegetation. Look for hapu`u tree ferns and kopiko trees.
Reach the top of the hill at a small lookout with a benchmark (elev. 1,860 ft).
Follow the crest of the hill.
Reach an obscure junction marked by several ki (ti) plants. Continue straight to regain the Summit Trail. (To the left the overgrown Kahuku Trail leads down to Kahuku town.)
Descend through strawberry guava and keep left in a small open area.
Reach the junction with the Summit Trail. Turn left on it. (To the right the Summit Trail heads back to Pupukea.
Stay on the windward side of the wide ridge through a tunnel of guava.
Cross over to the leeward side through scratchy uluhe ferns and Clidemia shrubs.
Switch to the windward side and then return to the leeward side.
Again, switch briefly to the windward side and then back to leeward through guava.
Cross over to a more open forest on the windward side.
After a short leeward stretch switch to the windward side and break out into the open. There are views of the coast from La`ie to Kahuku.
Pass a stand of loulu palms on the left and go through a grove of Australian tea shrubs.
Switch to the leeward side briefly and then return to the windward side.
Pass another Australian tea grove.
Cross over to the leeward side to bypass two humps in the ridge.
Walk along the open, windy summit past scattered loulu palms.
Resume contouring on the leeward side through guava and uluhe.
After a short windward section, switch to the leeward side on a very rough trail.
Cross over to the windward side for a long stretch.
Pass a small open area and another loulu palm grove.
Switch to the leeward side. A drainage of Kamananui Stream ends on the right.
After crossing over to the windward side, wind in and out of several gullies. A long side ridge gradually comes in on the left.
Just before an Australian tea grove, reach a junction. Continue straight on the Summit Trail. (To the left the Malaekahana Trail leads down the side ridge to La`ie town.)
Switch to the leeward side of the ridge. To the right are views of Ka`ena Point and the north shore.
Cross over to the windward side and pass some more palms.
Just past a grassy spot ringed with Australian tea, climb steeply, but briefly.
Almost immediately reach a junction (elev. 2,240 ft) (map point E). The Summit Trail continues straight along the main ridge. (To the left the La`ie Trail descends a side ridge to La`ie town.


Last Update: 06/02/00

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