Get a hiking/camping permit from the State Forestry Division in downtown Honolulu. Their office is in the Kalanimoku Building, Room 131, 1151 Punchbowl St. across from the State Capital; phone (808) 587-0166)......
State Forestry no longer allows overnight camping at the Mokule`ia picnic shelter. You can stay at Peacock Flat down the Mokule`ia Trail. Unfortunately, that campground has no water and is accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicle. Another option is to take this trip as a long day hike.
DAY ONE - Ka`ena Pt Satellite Tracking Station to Pahole Natural Area Reserve
From the lot walk across the side road and pick up the signed Kuaokala Trail. The trailhead is marked by a Smokey the Bear sign.
Contour around a hill topped by ironwood trees.
Reach a junction at the crest of Kuaokala Ridge (map point B). Turn left on a dirt road along the ridge. (To the left the road leads down to the main administration building.)
Stroll through ironwoods and introduced pines. There are good views of the leeward coast.
Pass a covered picnic table on the right.
Contour on the right side of the ridge below its top.
Descend briefly into a shallow, wooded ravine. Climb along side it.
At the end of the ravine turn left along the edge of the ridge (map point C).
At the road end cross an eroded area and bear right, following the main ridge.
Traverse a narrow bare section......
..... An abandoned Nike missile site comes into view across the gulch on the left.
As the road turns sharp left and down to go around the Nike site, turn right and up on a cleared dirt road (map point G).
Climb steadily along the forested rim.
Break out into the open for a short level stretch along a fence enclosing Makua Valley. You can look down a gulch into the Valley.
Resume steep climbing on the road......
..... Near the bench mark, turn sharp right on the Makua Rim Trail. (The road continues straight and then becomes a trail leading down to the Nike site.)
On the left pass a small water tank with roof catchment used by Forestry personnel. The valley enclosure fence comes in on the right. On a stile climb over a fence perpendicular to the main one.
Descend briefly to a narrow saddle in the ridge. There are views of both the leeward coast and the north shore.
Cross the main fence twice while contouring right, around a bump in the ridge.
Enter Pahole Natural Area Reserve. Native dry-land forest vegetation begins to predominate.
Bear left off the ridge line and ascend the side of a hill on 12 short switchbacks.
Climb steadily along the left side of the broad ridge paralleling the fence.
Keep right at a small eroded section.
As the ridge narrows, break out into the open for a short stretch.
Ascend gradually along the ridge, now wider. Again, keep to its left side.
On the left pass an enclosure of corrugated siding and barbed wire. Protected inside are rare Hawaiian land snails in a grove of native papala kepau trees.
Reach a stile in the fence. Turn left along the fence following the rim. Climb over the stile to a breathtaking overlook of Makua Valley (map point I). Across the valley are the imposing flanks of `Ohikilolo Ridge.
Climb, steeply at times, over four humps, each one higher than the last.
Traverse a relatively level section.
Cross a side fence, follow it briefly, and then switchback right to avoid a steep slope along the main ridge.
Descend two short, but steep, stretches.
At the bottom of the second, pass two Cook pines on the left.
Climb and then descend steeply to a notch and an unmarked junction. Turn left and down off the ridge. (The rim trail climbs steeply to an overlook of Makua Valley and then becomes overgrown and obscure.)
Descend to the benchless Mokule`ia picnic shelter (elev. 2,180 ft) (map point J). Nearby is a small water tank with roof catchment used by Forestry presonnel. The Mokule`ia Trail runs past the shelter. To the right it descends past a small stream to the forest reserve boundary. To the left the trail leads down to Peacock Flat campground and the Mokule`ia Access Rd.