There are not all that many good places to camp on Oahu if you don’t count beach parks and other places you reach by car, but the campsite I’m going to talk about in this article is wonderful, and you and your hiking buddies will almost certainly not have to share it with anyone else. There are no “no trespassing” signs posted at the trailhead, and the trail is clearly well-used, but on the other hand I can’t find it in any books, and there is a gate you walk around, so I’m assuming access is restricted. So, as with other “secret” trails I’ve written about, I won’t reveal the location here, but you can email me for more information. I will say that it’s just a twenty minute drive from Waikiki.
This easy trail starts with a walk on a dirt road surrounded by dry grasses. Towards the end of this section the grass sometimes gets very overgrown but it’s not hard to get through, and when I hiked it a short time ago the grass was not as overgrown as it has been on other occasions. After this part comes a gradual uphill climb through dryland vegetation, with a few spots where you have to duck to avoid overhanging branches. In a clearing you veer right and go into a pleasant little valley which marks the beginning of a more meandering, up and down segment in which the vegetation starts to get a little more tropical, and the way to go is not as clear. But in most cases where there are forks, the other route rejoins the main one pretty quickly.
Campsite with view – Photo by Dimitri Arapoff
The next segment is a bamboo forest that you enter into rather abruptly. This forest has a lot of character and is my favorite section of the trail. The bamboo is largely different from the green bamboo you see on the Manoa trail; thinner and browner. Towards the end of the forest there are some giant boulders near the trail. At the end of the forest you cross a stream that is likley to be either trickling or completely dry, and the last segment of the trail is a short walk mostly through lush green grass. The trail gets more confusing here in spots but stays close to the stream. Very soon the trail is sandwiched between the stream and a hill on the right, and you clamber up that hill. The route is not obvious but right away you reach a plateau covered with pine trees. Going back towards the ocean you come to a clearing with a great view of the valley, and here is where you can camp. There is a firepit to the right which obviously gets some fairly frequent use, but bring a camp stove because it’s illegal to make fires. The clearing can accomodate many tents comfortably and I’ve had a great time when I’ve camped here with friends. It takes about an hour to reach this spot if you have a full backpack, but only about forty-five minutes with a day pack.
Grassy section at the beginning – Photo by Chris Walker
If you want to camp here rather than just do a day hike, try to go in the winter after it has been raining heavily for a few days. That way the stream will at least have some puddles in it and provide you with water for cooking, drinking, and bathing. (If you drink the water, filter it or boil it or use iodine tablets to avoid geting leptospirosis.) It may even be flowing nicely, and a bubbling stream would be a very nice addition to your camping experience. I love that sound! The camping area is high up enough that flash floods are not a danger. Of course, as always, tell people where you are going and hike with others.
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