If you’re looking for an ultra chill hike that you can do with family/children/dogs and get views, this is the hike. Aiea Loop Trail will have you seemingly switching between biomes and seeing amazing ridge-like views of H3 and Honolulu without the popular rock scrambling.
Also, the trail begins at a park with designated parking and camping available at Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area. If you’re trying to make a day out of it or maybe have a picnic after, the park is made for that.
About the Trail
Location: Keaīwa Heiau State Recreation Area, along the western ridge of the Hālawa Valley.
Length: 5 miles total
Fear Factor: Minimal – there are areas where you can deviate to climb and get better views, but it’s not always necessary.
Starting the Hike
Although the hike is a loop, there are two places you can start the hike. The most common area is in the back of the park behind the camping grounds and picnic benches. It should be marked, so if you’re doubting the entrance, it’s probably the wrong trailhead.
You’ll notice almost immediately how well maintained the hike is. It’s like that the whole way! You’ll also notice (if you hadn’t already from driving into the park) that the environment is very… not tropical like the rest of Oahu. If you took a picture of the trail and labelled it as a hike in mainland’s Pacific Northwest, it would be believable.
Doing the Hike
The hike is through the pine forest 99% of the time and hosts a lot of native forest plants to the island. Oahu is not all tropical! It’s a nice change of pace from the rainforest vibe of many other hikes on the island.
Although Aiea Loop Trail is pretty straightforward, there is an area that can trip you up. If you see a junction in the trail, it’s probably the point where Kalauao Trail branches off Aiea Loop (which adds another 4 miles to your trek). If you didn’t plan for waterfalls, swimming, and uphill climbs… make sure you stay on Aiea Loop Trail.
What You’ll See
If you walk slowly and the park isn’t too packed, you’ll see wild boar. You may not necessarily want to see wild boar because they can be quite aggressive if you get too close, but it’s always cool to see them from afar. While hiking the trail, we saw them minding their own business ahead on the trail or in the forest on 2-3 occasions.
You’ll also see the island’s most populous and “dangerous” predator… cats. Tons of them.
You’re pretty high up on Aiea Loop Trail. You do get to an area where you have a good view of Honolulu and Diamond Head, and it’s always so cool to see how big diamond head looks from different vantage points on the island.
There is a point on the trail which used to showcase a war plane in the valley from WW2. Now, it’s very hard to see, but it’s still there. Maybe if you look close enough, you can spot it among the trees.
My favorite view on the entire trail is the view of the H3 before it enters the tunnel to Kailua! Check it out:
All in all, this hike is pretty cool, and you don’t need to exhaust yourself to get the breathtaking views.
Interested in Aiea Loop Trail? Would you recommend this hike? Any tips on making the hike even cooler? Comment below?