This past Saturday was the last day on my Hawaii business trip and I was able to carve out some time on Saturday morning for a ride. The destination was the Maunawili Trail on the windward side (east) of the island. I got an early enough start that I had to casually get ready at the trailhead while waiting for daylight to join me at the rally point.
The Maunawili trail is a 10 mile singletrack that countours along the foothills above the Maunawili Valley and near the striking cliff bases of the Ko’olau Mountains. All of the descriptions of this trail I had found recommended it as a point-to-point from the north end near the Pali Lookout and going south down to the community of Waimanalo. There was only about 1,000 feet of elevation between the high and low points so that even accounting for some undulations in the trail it should not be too bad as an out-and-back. The sun did not make a majestic entrance when I started out from Waimanalo. It was quite cloudy when I set off on the double track climb that would take me up to the start of the trail proper.
The doubletrack was not horrible, but the singletrack was downright awesome pretty much right from the get go. Sweet narrow goodness etched into steep hillsides was the theme most the time. While most of the trail tread is smooth, there were numerous rooty and rocky section to keep your technical skills on point.
The trail went in and out of numerous foothill fingers and while the cloudy morning was putting a damper on the full beauty of this place it was still impressive. The prominence of the cliffs often made me feel downright small.
The beauty of this trail really did a good job of hiding the danger of the steep hillside that was often less than a foot off the trail thread. If this was a barren desert trail, it would be easy to get wigged out about some of the exposure. Mother Nature added to the deception and danger of some of these spots with ferns that grow in from the high side of the trail. I preferred having my faced brushed by ferns over finding a weak spot on the downhill edge of the trail.
The flora on this trail was simply incredible. I only knew what a few of the types I saw where. Later on I found out that I had been cruising under cool stuff like mango trees, pink guava, a plethora of ferns, and a bunch of native plants that contained way too many vowels for me to pronounce.
As I started nearing the north end of the trail, there was more signs of use and well as trail maintenance. In some of the wet spots a few boardwalks had been installed to help the trail and habitat keep from getting thrashed. At this point one thing was for sure, this trail is uphill in both directions. It took me a lot longer than expected to cover the 10 miles and reach the north end of the trail at Pali highway. The plan was enjoy the trail in other direction, but I did not have enough time now as I had after lunch work commitments. With a great deal of reluctance, I played grown up and dropped off the mountain on the road and speedily made my way back to my car. The work went well, but I did have to burn some “lamp oil” to polish everything off. One thing is for certain, this will not be my last ride on this trail. I’m already looking forward to a sunny day return…someday.