Waimano Valley

Waimano Valley is a 2-mile meander along a stream and back up along the ridgeline.

Waimano Valley is a 2-mile meander along a stream and back up along the ridgeline.

The Waimano Valley hike is a good one for families with kids of all ages, provided you note my cautions and hike modifications (remoteness, difficult footing). For youngsters with uncertain footing (age 2-3 or slightly older new hikers), I recommend an out-and-back approach (option 1). For older kids (4-5+) you can do the whole route as described in the hiking books (option 2).

Option 1: If you go out along the lower trail (you’ll see a sign at the beginning of the trail marking upper vs lower) you hike about 1/2 a mile down a grade to a stream and then follow the trickling stream for maybe 1/2 a mile. (I killed our GPS so I don’t have exact measurements.) The kids could play in the stream, throw rocks, have a snack, and then head back up the way you came in. This would give maybe 1-1.5 mi total length and about 300′ elevation gain on the way back.

Option 2: Do the whole loop (out on lower trail, back on upper trail) if you have trustworthy kids. The hike is easy but the narrow trail along the return leg can be dicey if your kids are running out ahead and not under voice control. This section has about 1/2 mile of narrow trail with a very steep drop-off to one side. Your hiker probably wouldn’t die if (s)he went over the edge, but it would be a harrowing experience for all. This section also has some really interesting short tunnels to the left (hill side) of the trail. I would be curious to go through one if I had a headlamp next time, but I am not sure if they are used by hunters or pigs, or both! To be safe, one parent should ideally be available for each hiker age 5 and under. That said, our almost-6-year-old did it just fine and made good choices, but not all kids are as cautious. As for difficulty, our 2.5 year old did the whole hike on his own two feet with just hand-holding along this tricky section. The hike took us 2 hours including 5 min stream watching and 15 min snack stop.

The trailhead is in a relatively remote area above Pearl City and is not well traveled so it may not be well maintained or easy to follow at all times. However, there is a guard shack with a guard on duty 24/7 so this is one place your vehicle is unlikely to be broken into!

Other cautions: The roots and rocks will be slippery especially in wet winter months. Always be aware of the weather and the risk of flash floods, but you’re not crossing the stream so the risk seems minimal to me. You could always check with your local fire/police buddies to be sure.

Treachery Some – along the upper leg of the trail where the drop-off is steep and the trail is narrow. Need a dedicated parent for kids age 5 and under.
Shade Lots – 98%!
Snack spot By the big mango tree at the top of the loop – some rocks to sit on and a good halfway point. No treachery there.
Exertion Some – two miles with about 300′ elevation change. You will definitely know you went for a walk but it should be doable for even the youngest with perhaps a little help every now and then.

Trailhead Go to the end (mauka direction of course!) of Waimano Home Road. Look for the guard shack at the end. Park in the dirt lot to the left of the shack. The trailhead is directly ahead, just to the left of the chainlink fence. Take Stuart Ball’s reference on the trail to make sure you can find your way. The trail is clear if you have the guide handy, but there are a couple off-shoots probably used by hunters that could potentially confuse you.

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