The Maunawili Trail

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.

Aloha from the Aiea Loop

I love it when things just fall in place.   I had to “work” in Hawaii this week and was hoping squeak in a ride during the trip.   I had a early flight on Tuesday and found myself on the ground at lunch time.    There was no delay in getting my baggage and the rental car thing went really smooth.   I already knew where I was renting a bike during this visit so went by there picked up and decently equipped hardtail that was basically brand new.   It was right about this time that I realized that I forgot to bring my clipless pedals.    Cleated bike shoes and flats pedals don’t mix well so my next stop was to local bike shop where I picked up a set of SPD pedals on the cheap.     I was all set to squeak in that ride when the opportunity presented itself.   A look at my watch revealed that opportunity was now and the trailhead was just a few miles a way.  The sky was filled with ominous looking clouds but what the heck, the temps were nice and it was not raining right now so time to get some trail while I can.

I had done the Aiea Loopbefore which was good as I did not have much of a daylight buffer for exploring.    Having all much my gear stuffed into luggage it looked like a yard sale around my car I was pulling stuff out all over the place to get to everything.   Soon I was in the correct garb and ready to head out.    The last time I rode here was in 2004 and I remembered lots of roots.  Yeah lots of roots.   Back in 2004 this trail was my first exposure to roots galore and I remembered it being monumentally frustrating.    Since then I have had a lot more exposure to riding this type of stuff so the roots where down into the challenging category. 

For the first 1.6 miles of of this loop you are climbing some good and twisty singletrack.   I have been fighting off some chest and sinus congestion for the past week so the “redline” on the cardio side of the house was much lower than normal.  Get anywhere near that line for line would quickly turn into a wheezing, hacking mess.    This meant I really got to enjoy the climb as despite the overcast, the scenery was nice with lush vegetation all around.  


That lush vegetation however does hide some often precarious exposure that could net you a long tumble down a steep hillside should you blow a move or turn.

Once I reached the highpoint , the fun really got to going as a good chuck of the rest of the route was downhill.    The flowing singletrack typically bench cut in the side of the steep hillsides so there was little room for error along the trail.  I had gotten into flow of the trail and was zipping along quite nicely when the bike gave me a quick reminder that it was not one of trusty full suspension bikes.  I took a root drop that was a little bigger than it looked from up the trail and soon found myself riding a compressed fork nose wheelie for way too far before slamming the rear wheel back and nearly jolting myself off the bike.   After getting the bike to a stop, I starting laughing so hard that I sent myself in another round of congestion hacks and coughs.    Any near miss that you can laugh at is good in my book.     

It was not long before I was back at the trailhead where I cleaned up a bit and did the yard sale thing in reverse and headed out for the hotel.  What a great way to start a business trip.