Mud, rain, wrong turns, and an engagement: Lulumahu Falls

Lorelei woke up on Tuesday just itching to go hiking.  From the kid I have to often pull out of bed, this is a rare occurrence.  I let the oldest babysit and took her to Pali Highway to find the trail entrance for Lulumahu Falls.  Again, another on my list and a good weekday hike.  I had read that the weekends can be crowded, and I wanted us to have plenty of time and space for this muddy, largely unmarked trail.

As you drive from Honolulu towards Kailua and Kaneohe, you see the entrance for Nu’uanu Drive and an unpaved parking area to the right.  This is the easiest entrance to the trail.  It looks like nothing; you have to look for the small sign for the watershed and hunting area and a small clearing in the bamboo.  The path is narrow but clear through the trees.  We felt like we were running from velociraptors as we pushed our way through!  You exit into a large clearing with a spectacular view of the mountains, but this is only the beginning.  Follow the gravel path to the next forest and trail.

Once you see the wall of graffiti, you climb the stairs and enter a thick forest.  There is an empty, fenced drainage area that looks almost like an underground animal cage.  I joked that the dinosaurs had escaped.  *We reference Jurassic Park a lot while hiking because that is what the area looks like.  Did you know that they have filmed parts of the movies here, as recently as last month for Jurassic World 2?*

The path is clear until you cross a small water fall – now the path is replaced with rocks, moss, mud, and trees.  There are small hints of a path made by previous hikers, but there are parts that divide into 2 or more trails.  Which one do you take?  We were clueless.  We even asked some hikers behind us, but no luck.  I tried to use logic.  The falls are at 977 feet up, so climbing up seems smart.  If we stay close to the stream, we should reach the waterfall.  If I can hear and/or see other hikers, we can follow them or ask directions.  We took a few wrong turns, slid in plenty of mud, climbed up and over trees, and learned to be okay with gripping moss (that was mostly for me).  We crossed back and forth over the stream, lunged over rocks and logs, splashed around in the cold water, and enjoyed the mist of the on-and-off rain.  Lorelei alternated between elated and skittish as she hopped rocks; I tried not be horribly squeamish with every squish of mud on my feet, legs, and hands.

We finally made it to the waterfall, and it did not disappoint.  It is even higher in elevation, so high that I could not see the top.  The water is cold but pleasant after the hike up.  We were getting down to swimsuits and noticed that a couple were taking pictures in front of the waterfall.  Suddenly, the man was down on one knee with a ring – he proposed!  The woman was elated and completely shocked, and the few of us there clapped and cheered.  What an awesome thing to witness!  We stayed for about 30 minutes, splashing around and reading a book, and then made our way back down.  In total, this was 4 miles and took us about 80 minutes.  We did stop frequently to backtrack and slowly climb, so I think the entire hike could be done quicker.  Regardless, we ended up back at our car with mud all over us, tons of pictures, and plans to come back.

I know I have mentioned that I am not an outdoor enthusiast or an avid hiker.  I am finding that I enjoy it more and more, for so many reasons.  I love that I can convince at least 1 child to come with me and to share the experience.  I love that it challenges me to go outside of my comfort zone.  It gives me a great workout without really feeling like one, as I usually spend more time focusing on the surroundings than on my exhaustion.  Finally, I meet the nicest people while hiking.  Everyone tries to help one another out with difficult inclines, directions, and support.  They encourage one another, take pictures for each other, and share stories.  It is great to see people of all ages, genders, body types, and backgrounds enjoying the trail together.


Lorelei is really on a hiking kick, so I plan to take advantage of it while it lasts. If you have any suggestions of hikes we have not done yet on Oahu, comment below!



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