Hiking the Likeke Trail | June 2019
Back when we moved to Oahu, we heard about the Hawaii Trail & Mountain Club — a hiking club that organizes hikes every weekend around the island. We would occasionally look into what they were doing, but their hikes never worked out with Curtis’ schedule or our interests. Instead, we’ve just been knocking out every trail we find even remotely interesting on our own.
However, we’re now getting to the point where we’re hearing about interesting hikes, but we aren’t able to do them because of restricted access or because there just isn’t enough information about them for us to safely find our way. Last weekend while we were debating repeating an old hike or trying out a new one, Curtis happened to look up the HTMC’s schedule and noticed that they were doing a hike the next day on a trail that we were interested in but questioned whether we could do it legally on our own. The trail was listed as intermediate, so we decided it was the perfect time to check the group out.
We prepared that morning more than we have for most hikes we’ve done in the past few months, packing plenty of water and snacks. We worried about the fact that we didn’t have real hiking boots — we still haven’t replaced our completely worn-out ones from our Mauna Loa backpacking adventure. Would the professional hiking club members judge us for wearing sneakers? We were also nervous about how many people might show up. “How many is too many people to hike with?” Curtis asked me.
“Seven.” I replied.
“Ok, well if there’s more than 10 maybe we’ll just skip,” he said.
We arrived at the meeting place — Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, and learned right away that this group was much more popular than we had been expecting. There were definitely more than my ideal group number of 7. Cars kept pulling in, but we decided that since we had come this far and were so prepared, we should just stick it out. At least now we could maybe blend into the crowd and not stand out as the new weird hikers in sneakers. We signed the visitor’s sheet and paid the the suggested donation. An older man came and greeted us and asked if we were new. We said yes, though we weren’t new to hiking in Hawaii. He told us that this was actually double what the normal group size was, since this was an easier and less known about hike there was a much bigger turn out.
The organizer for this hike was Stuart Ball, the author of the book “The Hiker’s Guide to Oahu,” which we have used throughout our entire time here. He gave a short welcome and described the trail we would be hiking, and soon we were on our way. At first we just followed the large group, somewhere in the middle, but slowly made our way closer to the front. We passed by “No Trespassing” signs, thankful to have a group to let us in on an exclusive Oahu trail (or maybe they didn’t have permission, but hey, the cops can’t get us all, right?). When we came to a fence blocking the trail, the defacto leader at the front started off to the left to find a way around, but Curtis remembered that we were supposed to go right and thus found himself as the leader of the group. He quickly surrendered this title though to not be held responsible for any other possible wrong turns.
As we wandered into the woods, the group became more dispersed and we even found ourselves hiking on our own for a good portion of the trail. It definitely wasn’t as crowded as it had first seemed. We were glad we didn’t follow our first instinct to run and hide!
The part that interested us most about this trail was how it connected two familiar places that we’ve visited before. It made a 5 mile loop going from Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, under the H3, followed a contour of the Ko’olau Mountains, and eventually lead to Likeke Falls. We then took the familiar path on the old-old Pali Highway to the golf course, then followed the road to the back entrance to the botanical garden and road-walked through the entire gardens. Overall not that hard at all, just some narrow parts along the contour trail and areas where it could be slick and muddy after it rains. The biggest concern might actually be walking the roads with no shade in the heat of the day. I thought back to our 10 mile hike on the Maunawili Trail, and I thought it was cool that we could basically hike from the botanical garden to the Old Pali highway and all the way to Waimanalo.
We took our time walking through the botanical gardens on the road and spent a little extra time wandering around before heading back home. We’ll definitely keep the HTMC in mind when planning future hikes. If you’re ever interested in hiking with a group while on Oahu, check out their website here.