Halawa is a graded trail built back in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Once you get onto the trail you can see for yourself just how much labor was involved in cutting this very well laid out path to the Ko'olau summit.
We started out by meeting at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply's Xeriscape garden on Iwaena Street in Halawa Valley around 6am. Based on my reading I knew we had to get to a stream gauging station behind the garden but a security guard shooed us away from the gardens. She did however give us a tip that we could follow a chain link fence on the Ewa side of the garden driveway.
Into the 6 foot cane grass we plunged. There's nothing like starting your day in sharp, scratchy, itch, and wet cane grass. Eventually we arrived at a bunch of large rocks and scampered around them trying to find the trail. Eventually, wet and angry, we arrived at the stream gauging station where we crossed Halawa Stream. There are a couple of ribbons here to help you find your way but even without them the path is pretty obvious.
We eventually reached a section in a ravine where we lost the trail and after back tracking a few times just bushwhacked our way up to the power line road that would take us to the trail. Once on the road things were easy. We arrived at the trail head and after photographing the geodetic markers set off down the Halawa Trail.
At first glance I'd have sworn I was on the Aiea Loop Trail accross the valley. A wide graded path contoured through an introduced forest with a very gentle incline. As we progressed the introduced forest gave way to a more and more native forest filled with ohia, koa, ili'ahi, uluhe, and others. For the most part the trail was clear although a few larger fallen trees meant a scramble over or under them a couple times.
|Beautiful trail construction|
|Large ili'ahi tree|
Snaking our way up the ridge we were occasionally treated to a view of H-3 but wasn't until we were almost abeam the tunnels that we switched to the Halawa Valley side of the ridge. Shortly thereafter, there's a section that was taken out in a landslide some years ago.
I was a little surprised by the number of pig tracks along the trail. I guess they appreciate the hard work of the CCC builders too! This must be the pua'a version of H-3. Luckily they seem to root around off trail so their destructive behavior hasn't damaged the trail too much over the years.
On the way up I got a great view of an area I've been curious about on my commute to work where someone had been clearing a section of the upper valley. I paused to take a couple shots of it. I was told by local botanical celebrities Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr that this is:
"A HDOT project to clear all nonnative competing vegetation from a 4 acre Wilt Resistant Koa forest that grew from a former H-3 construction staging area.
Recently planted 1100 koa seedlings and 200 hibiscus arnottianus. All were collected from Halawa Valley. The work was done by Hui Ku Maoli Ola. Future work is planned to plant more native species collected from Halawa."
One of my shots was picked up by Green Magazine Hawaii and is supposed to be included in the Sept/Oct issue which is kind of cool.
|H-3 Tunnels Halawa side|
|Looking back at the contouring final section of the trail|
|Halawa Ridge Trail Terminus|
|C-17 at Kaneohe MCAS|
We decided to take a different route out headed towards the Bridge One trail. After locating it I was irritated to find it was chocked with more guinea grass that made following it down the steep cliffs much more unpleasant. There are a couple rope sections to help out in the steeper parts but I think the termite poo shower route was actually more pleasant! Emerging out on the Halawa Valley Access Road, we crossed under H-3, the Halawa Stream, and were back at the Xeriscape gardens. Tired, itchy from the guinea grass, and irritated we elected to go through the garden which would save us both more grass misery and a lot of time. The security guard was nowhere to be found on the way out!
Overall I'd say Halawa is long but easy. It also opens the door to a lot of Ko'olau Summit territory like the Haiku Hidden Stairs and can be combined with other trails like Aiea and Moanalua. More photos from this trail and others I've done can be viewed at Flickr. Aloha and mahalo for reading.