#hikinginhawaii – Pu’u Ma’eli’eli Hike

I adore the east side of Oahu. It is so green there, due to plenty of rain; the beaches are gorgeous; it has all the conveniences of a modern area while still feeling rural. Kailua has expanded rapidly, and tourism is huge there. But if you drive a little north through and past Kaneohe, the area seems more calm.

There are tons of hikes on this side. These can be humid (again, rain) and often muddy, but I have yet to be disappointed by a single outing. This past Sunday, Addie and I tackled Pu’u Ma’eli’eli Trail, or Digging Hill as it is more commonly known.

A little Hawaiian history: there is a sign at the top with the name and a description of the hike. It was given its name based on legend. The wooden sign states that the gods Kane and Kanaloa raced up this hill. They had to dig their hands and feet into the hill, thus the trail is called Digging Hill.

It was originally three of us who ventured across the island. We had just started the scenic drive on H3 through the mountains when the husband received a phone call. Duty called on a Sunday morning, so we had to backtrack and drop him off in Honolulu to handle some things. You are never 100% off-duty in the military, and we are reminded of it from time to time.

So after a setback, Addie and I finally started the hike.

We spotted the Temple Valley area and found street parking to begin our hike. DO NOT PARK in the shopping area, unless you would potentially like to be towed. And be courteous when parking in the neighborhood. The homeowners realize that you must park there to reach the hike, but clean up your trash and be respectful. Common sense, but it must be stated.

walking on Hawaiian highway blue skies
Walking the highway back to our car. It is not a very big shoulder, and the cars do not slowly drive past. eek!

In my opinion, the only dangerous part of this hike is walking to the trailhead. One must walk on the highway shoulder for maybe 2 minutes. Cars are zooming by, and it is a little nerve-wracking with your child. The entrance is marked by a yellow post and a clearing into the trees.

Start your relatively easy 2 mile hike, with gentle ups and downs through just over 520 feet in elevation. Because of the weather conditions, there will likely be some slick or downright muddy areas. As I tell my kids often, slow and steady. There are plenty of tree roots for traction and low-hanging branches to help balance. Ropes are also in place in a few areas to assist hikers, a kindness we always appreciate.

I usually tell my kids we are “almost there” during 75% of a hike.

It’s the only way to keep them motivated. Little white lies are the basis of parenting and if you disagree with me, then you’re lying. Truth. I genuinely meant this when I was telling Addie though. I had completed this hike before and could swear that we were nearing the top. Yet once we reached a crest and the forest grew very dense, I realized that we still had some challenges ahead. Needless to say, she was not pleased.

But I PROMISE – if you can get through all the tree crouching under and the scrambling up rocks at the end, you will be rewarded. The view of Kaneohe Bay and the coastline are gorgeous. It was a beautiful day, and we could see clear to Chinaman’s Hat and the Ko’olau range. We sat atop a World War II bunker with snacks and water, snapped a few pictures, then started the climb down.

Here’s another unpopular opinion: the descent is worse than the ascent.

Climbing down kills my legs. I am much more nervous about falling when looking down a hill than up it. The mud makes it slick. But what comes up must go down, so we carefully made our way down the hill. Addie nearly lost a shoe in some sticky mud, and I was tempted to simply slide down a slick hill on my butt. Once at the bottom, we carefully walked back on the highway to our car to shed our muddy shoes and reward ourselves with a milkshake.

Life is about balance – hike for over an hour, get a milkshake. That seems reasonable.

This hike is very doable with kids, and we saw many on the trail. Kids may need help with some of the muddy areas or steeper climbs, but those are few and far between. It is short enough for nearly any skill level. It makes a great hike to take visitors as well!

Come back for more #hikinginhawaii – I like to go when I can. There are so many things to see here, and with a finite amount of time left, I hope to see many more.

panoramic view of Kaneohe Bay
Pano shot – gorgeous, right?
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