Explore hiking the Judd Trail Oahu to Jackass Ginger Pool this 1.0-mile loop trail near Honolulu. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 28 min to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking and walking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The Judd trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Length: 1.0 mi
Elevation gain: 170 ft
Route type: Loop
Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Forest, River, Views, Waterfall, Wildlife
Want more ideas to round-out your hiking trips to the Hawaiian Islands?
A lot of great ideas are in these posts!
- 2 Ways Of Hiking To Makaleha Falls via Makaleha Trailhead
- 3 Great Reasons to Hike the Kuilau Ridge Trail
- The Wiliwilinui Hiking Trail: 3 Important Reasons To Visit
- The 4 Great Ualakaa Trail Hiking Options
Hike The Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool Near Honolulu
check out our video
Your trip starts on the side of the Old Pali Road in Nuuanu, about 150 yards up from the last residential cross street, called Poli Hawi Place. After a few more houses, Nuuanu Pali Dr. turns into a thick, jungle-like road.
Keep an eye out for a clear opening on the right side with a couple of concrete barriers and trail and warning signs. The signs are there because people break into cars in the area. Like at other Oahu attractions, don’t leave valuables or anything else out in the open in your parked car.
Once you’ve parked and are ready to start your hike, just step off the road and follow the signs to the Judd trail. Your adventure will then begin. Right from the start, this Judd trail Oahu goes slightly downhill and to the right. As soon as you step off the path, you should hear the sound of running water.
In the area, there is a beautiful 6-foot waterfall that falls over a group of boulder rocks into a small pond. It has a few water shoots on the sides that make it an interesting thing to see.
As soon as you start walking on the Judd trail, you will see this waterfall off to the left. Just listen for the sound of water falling and follow it. Even though this isn’t Jackass Ginger Falls, it’s still nice to stop and look at it.
The water flows down and next to the Judd trail Oahu for about 200 feet, until you reach a place in the stream where you can cross it. Here, you’ll have to walk carefully across some rocks that stick out of the water. This part is about 20 yards long and will require some balancing and navigating.
When the water is calm, it’s not hard to cross, but you should know your limits before trying. Also, pay attention to the flash flood sign. Do not try to cross the stream after it has rained a lot and turned into a fast-moving river. It can sometimes be very dangerous.
Just below the parking area is where the Judd Trail Oahu begins, and it goes across the stream. When crossing the stream, be careful because the rocks are unstable and slippery. Once you cross the stream, the Judd Trail makes a loop, so you can go either way. The Judd Trail goes through a forest that is mostly made up of bamboo, ironwood, and eucalyptus trees. About halfway through the loop, this trail meets up with Nuuanu Trail.
The Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool have natural water slides, rope swings, a bamboo forest, and a wooded wonderland. It’s one of my favorite short hikes and adventure trips on the island of Oahu. The whole loop is only 1 mile long, but it has a lot of different things to see, like streams and pine forests, so families and young children can explore without having to go on a long hike.
This trail goes in a circle for a mile, and every turn brings something new. You can expect to see a bamboo forest, tall pine trees, a swinging rope, and rocky water slides that lead to a big swimming hole. Some parts of the Judd trail have been used a lot, but there are still plenty of roots, branches, and rocks to keep you on your toes.
The Judd Trail keeps following the Nuuanu stream until it leads you to Jackass Ginger Pool, a place to swim that is right next to the backyards of some very lucky people. This is a great place to have fun in a small rock pool without a lot of people. Kids love places like this where there are animals everywhere and lots of places to explore. We jumped off the rope swing and into the cold water.
Since the Judd Trail is a loop, you can go in either direction and come back to this point. The right side will get you to the Jackass Ginger Pool quickly, but I suggest taking the Judd trail that goes straight up the hill on the left side. So, you can first enjoy the beauty of the Judd Trail and then reward yourself at the end of your hike with an exciting waterfall and pool.
Please note that the Judd Trail is part of the Honolulu-Mauka Trail Network, which is made up of 18 trails that connect to each other. The Makiki Arboretum Trail can be used to get to the system as part of a longer hike. The Judd trailhead is 5.65 miles from the Makiki Arboretum Trail. This is the shortest way to get there. Click Here for a Map and Information on the HONOLULU MAUKA TRAIL SYSTEM.
Hiking can be risky, and not everyone should go on every trail. Keep in mind your own level of fitness and skill, and always take the right precautions when going off-road. Pay attention to “do not enter” signs and other warnings. On Wednesdays and Sundays, there are hunters with dogs that hunt for pigs, so hikers with dogs should avoid those days.
History of the Judd Trail
The loop trail slowly grew out of the paths that the first Hawaiians and Civilian Conservation Corps crews used to plant trees. In 1954, the Territory hired unemployed people to completely rebuild the Judd loop.
Visit the beautiful Jackass Ginger pool on the way back. Its first name may have been Kahuailanawai, which means “calm water,” because the stream flows over rapids and into a deep, calm swimming hole. In the early 1900s, young people in the area changed the name of the pool to reflect a nearby donkey and the yellow ginger that grew near it.
SPECIAL NOTICE: This trail is the site of a special hunt to control the limit of pigs. On Wednesdays and Sundays, they hunt with a hunting dog from sunrise to sunset. On these days, hunters might be on or near this hiking trail. During a hunt, hunting dogs may not be on a leash. During the control hunt season, hikers with pet dogs might want to use other trails to avoid running into hunting dogs. Hikers must always keep their dogs on a leash and clean up after them while on this trail.
Do not use any trail or access road that is not named and colored, or that is not shown on these maps. The marked areas are taken care of so that people can use them for recreation. Other trails or roads that branch off from public features may be on private property and are not managed for public recreation. Access depends on the permission of the landowner next door. If you use it without permission, you will be trespassing and could put yourself at risk.
Hiking Tips For The Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool Near Honolulu
★ Stay on the trail.
★ Check the weather, concentrating on rainfall.
★ Watch the time. Get through with your hike before dusk.
★ Read all posted signs
★ Pack out at least what you pack in.
★ Hunting may be in progress on or near this hiking trail. Hunting dogs may be off-leash while engaged in the hunt. Hikers must keep their dogs leashed at all times and remove dog waste while on this trail.
★ Bring lots of mosquito repellent to avoid bug bites. Remember to reapply after you swim in the pool.
★ Parking along the road will be limited. Park in the residential area and walk to the trailhead to avoid car break-ins.
★ Wear water-friendly shoes that allow you to cross a stream and slippery rocks.
★ Nu‘uanu Stream will be stronger after heavy rain, so plan accordingly.
★ To avoid leptospirosis, be careful not to swallow the pond water, put your head underwater or swim with cuts.
Directions To The Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool
Go around the barriers along Nu`uanu Pali Dr. and walk across a flat clearing formerly used as a parking lot
Descend to Nu`uanu Stream through ironwood trees on the signed Judd Trail.
Cross the stream immediately upon reaching it. (Do not take the trail heading downstream along the near bank.)
On the far bank reach a signed junction in a bamboo grove. Continue straight on the wide trail heading away from the stream. (The trail on the right along the stream is the return leg of the Judd loop.)
Swing right and contour into and out of several small gullies through eucalyptus and Cook pines. Ignore side trails heading upslope or down to the stream.
Enter the Charles S. Judd Memorial Grove of Cook pines.
As the Judd trail descends, bear left into a shallow gully and cross it.
Almost immediately reach a signed junction. Continue straight downhill on the Judd trail. (To the left is the Nu`uanu Trail, which climbs out of the valley to Pauoa Flats.)
Descend the ridge in a series of gentle switchbacks. Ignore a side trail on the left.
After emerging from the Cook pines, swing right and cross two gullies with tangled hau groves.
Contour well above Nu`uanu Stream along the edge of the pine grove.
Pass a small rusted stake on the left, and almost immediately reach an obscure junction.
Continue straight on the Judd Trail. (To the left a makeshift trail descends to Jackass Ginger (Kahuailanawai) pool.)
Contour above the stream briefly and then descend to walk alongside it.
Pass a large banyan tree on the far bank and go through a bamboo grove.
Reach the initial junction and stream crossing.
Turn left, recross Nu`uanu Stream, and climb the far bank to the main road.
Hike The Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool Review
What a wonderful place! We were enjoying the countryside as we drove around and decided to stop just because. You can get to a great little waterfall surrounded by big Banyan trees with a short hike. Very simple. Even though I’m not in the best shape, I was able to hike the long route we took. Put on your hiking shoes because some parts of the trail are muddy. Real pretty hike.
At the pond, there were people who lived there, and we saw them come from a different direction. Oh, sure, you can walk to the road in 30 seconds. So, when we left, we took the easy way out. People from the area were jumping off the rock and sliding down it. On the steep parts of the way back up, there were ropes to help.
We did the hike mostly to get to the rock slide, so if you don’t want to walk for a long time, you can take a shorter route. The path is across the street from the flashing light, just in case a local isn’t around to show you the way. The Jackass Ginger Pool is more of a place to swim than it is a waterfall. I saw a couple of local boys use rope swings to jump over these 10-foot falls and into the deep pool below. It barely counts as a waterfall, but when it comes to waterfalling on the island of O’ahu, you can’t pick and choose.
We had kids between the ages of 8 and 11 on the trail today. Even though it was very wet and muddy, the kids were able to get around easily, and the scenery was beautiful. I really think you should wear shoes that can get wet because you have to cross a creek at the beginning of the trail, and if the ground is even a little bit wet, you will get muddy as you walk (and bring extra shoes to change into before you drive home). The sweet reward for the easy walk through the forest was the swimming hole at the end. We jumped off a few cliffs and used a natural rock slide to get into the pool. Everybody had a great time!
The Judd Trail is named after Dr. Gerrit P. Judd, a US missionary, trusted advisor, and financial manager for Hawaiian kings, including King Kamehameha III.
Nearby Trails to Hike
Manoa Cliff Trail
Discover this 4.0-mile out-and-back trail near Honolulu, Oahu. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 2 h 31 min to complete. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Length: 4.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,309 ft
Route type: Out & back
Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Scramble
Good trail with great views, connected to a large network of others, but be aware of the road closures which prevent you from accessing all connected trails via round top and tantalus. Easy enough for small kids, but very skinny in places with severely steep sides (hence the cliffs) , so maybe others are a better choice if you have little ones.
Pu’u Ohia (Mount Tantalus)
Explore this 0.9-mile out-and-back trail near Honolulu, Oahu. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 37 min to complete. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.
Length: 0.9 mi
Elevation gain: 351 ft
Route type: Out & back
Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife
Beautiful trail. Up hill most of the way. Plenty of steps to help. Muddy and just a little slippery. Expect small fly swarms eating the fallen fruit. Hike beyond the antenna towers for a beautiful view at the peak. The bamboo forests are amazing. Great spot!! Good parking at base of hike. Very few people on the trail. The bamboo forest was so pretty.
Get to know this 5.0-mile loop trail near Honolulu, Oahu. Generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 3 h 2 min to complete. This is a popular trail for birding and hiking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. You’ll need to leave pups at home — dogs aren’t allowed on this trail.
Length: 5.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,528 ft
Route type: Loop
Hiking, Bird watching, Forest, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, No dogs
Very long and uphill a lot. You will need to be in shape or you will end up turning pack around before you reach the end. I would not take small dogs or children on hike. Very dangerous when wet
The lower loop was very mellow and an easy to medium, but the upper loop was what made it hard. The trail is very easy to identify with the exception of one point past the second lookout bench. That being said, the trail in the upper loop has a lot of overgrowth that will cut you up if you do not have long pants. The views are beautiful and totally worth it, but don’t get after this unless you are prepared to be patient with the bushwhacking.
Hike The Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool Things to Do
1. Lyon Arboretum
Must visit place if you are into plants and trees, book your visit online in advance though. It’s free, but limited people in at a time. Everyone should sign in in the visitors center. We were lucky to book last spot for 1-3pm, and were allowed to enter at 11am. Hike is nice, a lot of side trails, great collection of plants. We were lucky to see the waterfall in the end being active. Spooky abandoned seismographic station in a trail. Very interesting! Feeling like a well maintained jungle. Please be kind and donate in the visitor center, if you are able to.
2. Haunted Morgan’s Corner
Everyone that grew up on O‘ahu has heard at least one story about Morgan’s Corner. The story involves a young couple, a large, old tree, and a tapping sound on the roof of the car.
The couple had parked under the tree late one night and when deciding to go home, the car would not start. The boy decided to go and get help, leaving the girl alone inside the car. She waited a long time. It was windy and the long branches of the tree could be heard scraping against the car’s roof. Eventually, the girl fell asleep to be awakened in the morning by policemen surrounding the vehicle. They asked her to get out and walked her away from the car, telling her to not look back. She told them what had happened, but curiosity made her turn towards the car… she saw her boyfriend hanging upside down from the branches of the tree. His torso was sliced open and his fingertips were scraping the roof of the car as his body swayed in the wind. It was not the tree that she had heard scratching the roof of the car that night.
3. Queen Emma Summer Palace
Great cultural heritage & history museum site. Very well kept. The grounds keeper is quite friendly and has great local insight! Has a quaint little giftshop. Make sure that you are watching for the entry sign or you may drive past it!
Queen Emma’s Summer Palace was a great follow up to the other pieces of history around Oahu. We did the self guided tour. Kind of wished we did the Docent led tour. I feel like you get a little more info. I enjoyed the extra insight into the monarchy of Hawaii. Especially in all the efforts Queen Emma made to better her island for her people. Highly recommend. Would happily support Daughters of Hawaii and their efforts to preserve important landmarks in the history of Hawaii.
Food and Diner Locations Near the Judd Trail & Jackass Ginger Pool
1. Helena’s Hawaiian Food
1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817
In 1946, Helen Chock opened the doors to Helena’s Hawaiian Food, a humble eatery on North King St. in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Over the past 64 years Helena’s Hawaiian Food has been serving the local community quality Hawaiian cuisine. In 2000, the James Beard Foundation awarded Helena’s Hawaiian Food the Regional Classic Award. Helena’s is one of a handful of restaurants in Hawaii to receive this distinctive award. After nearly 55 years, the restaurant was relocated to its current location on 1240 N. School Street.
Helena’s remains the simple and unpretentious eatery it was over 6 decades ago. The restaurant is now run by Helen’s grandson, Craig Katsuyoshi.
It’s been over 10 years since I came here. The place looks a bit more spacious and cleaner. The lines are just as long as I remembered it. It was a good thing that we got there right before opening. We ordered a good amount of food to share for our early lunch. The kalbi ribs were amazing as well as the chicken long rice. The soup had a good flavor as well as the pulled pork. Overall, this is a good place that you should check out.
2. Liliha Drive Inn
1408 Liliha St #101, Honolulu, HI 96817
At Liliha Drive Inn we offer meals of excellent quality and invite you to try our delicious food. The key to our success is simple: providing quality consistent food that taste great every single time. We pride ourselves on serving our customers delicious genuine dishes like: Barbeque, Hawaiian. Eat delicious food. Grab a drink. But most of all, relax! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support.
Great spot for Hawaiian breakfast and lunch plates. So far we’ve only tried the Garlic and Mochiko chicken and both were great. The max salad is also on point here. I’m definitely looking forward to try a few other dishes. They have a parking lot next to the restaurant which makes it easy to stop in and get some good eats.
The Best Food in Hawaii! Highly recommended The NY Steak and Jumbo Garlic Shrimp combo is out of this world or the Catchu Chicken. The size of the combo, the taste and the Price should keep this Restaurant open for Centuries! I like the friendly, quick service and very reasonable prices.
3. 3 Star Gourmet II Restaurant
743 Waiakamilo Rd, Honolulu, HI 96817
Passion. That’s how it started. Passionate about being able to serve others delicious food and building fond memories. A family-owned restaurant by Art & Virgie De Guzman, started in July of 2009, in the heart of Downtown Honolulu. Currently, 14 years in the business, we offer a wide variety of foods and services. At 3 Star, we offer delicious local plate lunches, banquet-style buffet, lechon, bentos and much more! As a small business, we would love to serve YOU.
This place is one of those hole in the wall restaurants where the food is impossibly good. It’s actually unbelievable how tasty their dishes are. Parking is easy as well, on the side of the restaurant and not on the street like most places.
Fast and Friendly Services. Food Portions are big. Firecracker Chicken is very tasty and it is not as spicy hot like some other ones I’ve tasted
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