I have a folder titled “Hikes” on my phone, specifically for screenshots of websites, pictures, and blog posts about hikes on Oahu. This way, when I wake up on a clear-sky Sunday morning itching to do something active, I can scroll through the folder and pick something. Simple but effective. Today, I suggested a waterfall hike to the kids, and only Lorelei took me up on the offer. To be honest, it is easier with only 1-2 kids on a new hike, since I am unclear about the trail myself. We set off for Likeke Falls trail, about 40 minutes away and close to Pali Highway.
Anyone who knows me is aware of my lack of navigational skills. Even with the glory of modern technology and GPS, I still find myself lost frequently; I actually enjoy this because I find the best places and people this way! I could not find good directions to the trail entrance, but Google Maps gave me a simple route. Wrong – it took me very literally to where the falls are located, underneath the highway overpass and not only inaccessible but with no place to even park and view them. We were driving along Pali Highway when I suddenly heard, “Arrived.” Um, no. There are no good places to make a U-turn or to change directions, so I drove until I hit the next stoplight. I saw a sign for the Nu’uanu Pali trail, so I decided to follow the road until I saw something, anything, for us to do. Less than a mile down this road, I saw a lot of people with towels, muddy shoes, and a clear trail sign. BINGO. I found us some roadside parking a little further up the hill, and off we went.
Where did we find? Judd Trail – ironically on my to-do list and uncrowded for a Sunday. This is a loop trail located in outer Honolulu. At just over 1 mile and at less than 300 feet in elevation, this is more of a nature walk than a hike. And it is truly a nature walk – trees, rocks, streams, small waterfalls, and lots of mud. Today it was the deep, sticky, suck-your-shoes-off-your-feet type of mud. Lorelei really enjoyed watching me squirm as I pulled my shoes out of mud. You enter the trail and make a small descent to a stream and waterfall. From here, you cross the stream (rocks are easily within stepping distance, but you can also walk right through the water). After this, the trail divides: you can take either path to start your loop, but Lorelei chose the path to the right because it is marked for the waterfall.
Within 10-15 minutes, we were at a large pool, rocky stream, and small waterfall. It was so beautiful! This place looked familiar to me, but I could not figure out why. I asked a girl there what this place was, and she reluctantly told me (I did have my child there) that this was the Jackass Ginger pool. I had been researching this! How great that we happened upon here. We lost our shoes and clothes and were grateful to sink into the cold water. There were people swimming, jumping off and sliding down nature-made water slides on rocks, and sunbathing. I wish we had our water shoes, as the rocks are slippery, and the pool itself is deep as you step further into the middle. We spent nearly an hour here eating our snacks, cooling off, climbing up and down the rocks, and watching fish.
Finally, I made Lorelei put her shoes on the finish the trail. We went up the loop and instead of completing it back down, we continued climbing. Like I said, this was not the hike I had intended or researched for today; I thought this was a part of the same trail. We climbed gently into the trees, hopping over logs and avoiding the mud where we could. We continued deeper and deeper into the forest. I told Lorelei that hikes like these make me feel like I am a million miles away from home. It is quiet, green, and isolated. She responded that it seemed we were lost. That child is nothing if not brutally honest.
Were we lost? Technically, no. We were on a clear trail, but this was not our original path. After returning home, I researched and saw that we started the Nu’uanu trail. Oops. I can say that coming from the Judd trail, this is an easy hike – no major inclines, just mud. Lorelei finally was tired after about 20 minutes of trees, mud, and nothing new in sight, so we turned around and returned. All in all, we hiked almost 5 km and were covered in mud at the end.
I think this may be one of my favorite hikes so far. Why? I even admitted that it was not very challenging. This hike is a kid’s dream: mud, rocks, water, swimming, trees, and plenty of things to see and explore. It is challenging only because of your chance of falling through mud. You have to climb under trees and over fallen logs, push yourself up rocks and through streams, and you finish very dirty. Beyond this, it was a fun outing with plenty to see and do. As Lorelei said, “I want to come back!”
Thank you to AllTrails.com for all your trail advice, tips, and directions. This is my #1 website for finding and learned about hikes in Oahu, but they cover hikes everywhere. Check them out – signing up is free!