Jul 3

The Pali lookout, Ko’olau range and Maunawili trail

Category: Hawaii

The Ko’olau mountain range is a spectacular knife-edged volcanic ridge that separates the northeast side of the island from the southeast. It is like a wind-block that protects Honolulu. Every guidebook will explain about the windward and leeward sides of islands, and how one side (the windward side) has more rain and the leeward side is dryer. It is certainly true, and very obvious when you see it for yourself. The Pali lookout is a small park lodged in a pass between the two sides. The wind howls through here in a legendary and impressive way. There is an abandoned highway that winds down to the northeast side and feeds into the Maunawili trail, which I walked until it intersected the Maunawili falls trail (maybe three miles one way from the Pali lookout). The abandoned highways is overgrown and a great place to see birds, once you get away from the wind. Unfortunately, the active Pali highway is nearby and makes a lot of noise for the first mile or so. As you go down the old road, there is some great volcanic geology visible on the wall of the cliff side.

Here is a view of the Kailua area from the abandoned road:

This is Kaneohe:

Here is a view westward along the Ko’olau range. There seems to be a perpetual cloud band at the ridge edge.

This bird is a red-billed leiothrix, another introduced animal. They are found mostly in the elevated wet forests.

A red-vented bulbul

There are a couple of spots along the Maunawili trail as you approach the falls trail that present awesome views, the kind that make you draw in breath.

The clouds near the summit edge are constantly changing, making for dramatic lighting.

Walking along the Maunawili trail, you will pass a number of stream beds and waterfalls. They are not always full or tumbling, but there is probably always enough to depend upon if you have a water filter. Looking eastward, you can see Makapu’u head, which I visited on this trip (there is an entry for it):

This view of rabbit island was lit by the setting sun beaming in at a steep angle underneath the Ko’olau summit clouds.


2 Comments so far

  1. barry healy February 18th, 2011 2:33 AM

    Hiked the trail with my daughter & brother. Pic’s bring back great memories. Hope to return & repeat hike with daughter, granddaughter & son in law.

  2. Jim (kimo) May 13th, 2012 5:50 PM

    I have pictures from the pali I took as slides in 1954when I was in the service. We hired a taxi for 4 hours and drove up the road that is now abanded. Where the road goes through the pass, we got out of the taxi and climed up as high as we dared and I have a beautiful view that does not appear in any of the pictures I see of yours,


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