Waahila Ridge State Recreation Area
Feeling a bit of nostalgia, we decided to visit one of our favorite Honolulu hiking trails. The fresh scent of pines filled the car as we pulled into the Waahila Ridge State Recreation Area. It was like stepping back into time. As a UH grad student I taught an ecology lab which culminated in a bit of field research at the bottom of the ridge. The course was spoken of in hushed tones among undergrads. They had to hike a mile or two and collect data on plants. Some of the students were a bit fragile and had a hard time with it.
I was hoping my 4 and 6-year old would have an easier time with this hike than my, okay I’ll say it, wimpy, undergrads. It didn’t look promising though. Mila snored loudly from the back seat and Micah was more interested in a boy circling the trash cans with a metal detector. We more or less dragged two cranky kids to the trailhead.
There, the towering pines screamed as the wind gusted over the ridgeline. That got their attention. After carefully navigating a network of slippery roots, we emerged to views of Palolo and Manoa valleys and the peak of Mt. Olympus in the distance. The hike undulates through a forest of (delicious) strawberry guava. The kids happily snacked along the way, stopping here and there to scramble over boulders. We hiked for a couple of miles before a beehive along the narrow trail stopped our journey. The kids absolutely refused to pass it which was sad because the trail just began to open up into native ‘uluhe and ohia forest. If you have better luck you can continue on until you hit an “end of trail” sign. From there, an unofficial, trickier trail leads to the summit of Mt. Olympus. I wouldn’t recommend that destination as a kid friendly though.
Looking for more hikes in Honolulu?
Head to the back of adjacent Manoa Valley to explore a network of hiking trails including this easy waterfall hike. If you’re not such a fan of hiking, the Waahila Ridge Park is a peaceful place to spend some time.