The 4 Great Ualakaa Trail Hiking Options

The Ualakaa Trail is a 2.3-mile circular route found close to Honolulu, Hawaii. It typically takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to accomplish the Ualakaa Trail, which is thought of as being simple. Since running, hiking, and birdwatching are all fairly popular activities here, you can stumble across other individuals while exploring. The route is lovely to explore at any time of the year and is open all year. Dogs are permitted, but they must be leashed.

Want more ideas to round-out your hiking trips to the Hawaiian Islands?
A lot of great ideas are in these posts!

The 4 Great Ualakaa Trail Hiking Options

About the Ualakaa Trail

In Pu’u the Ualakaa Trail is a brief loop that  runs through a dense forest canopy. A four-way intersection with the Makiki Valley, Moleka, and Maunalaha Trails is located at the trail’s uphill finish. At this intersection, there is a map of the system’s trails. A good family trail for all but the very young.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.3 mi
Elevation gain: 498 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife


There are days when you can fill your pack with water, stretch out, and prepare your body and mind for the hard work of a long hike through the mountains. Sometimes you just want to go for a short walk in the woods. For the second group, the Ualaka Trail is an easy way to get to magical forest adventures and beautiful views.

The Ualakaa Trail should be pretty easy for most people, whether they take the out-and-back route or the main loop. It’s not too hot most of the time because there’s a lot of shade and you’re up a bit. Cook Pines are the big pine trees you see early on. They are named for Captain James Cook.

The White-Rumped Shama is a bird that birdwatchers should look for. It is black on top and light brown on the bottom, and it has a long black and white tail. The Shama sings many lovely songs and often sounds like other birds. The Shama is from Malaysia, but it has become common in new forests like this one.

After the first intersection, the path goes through a double row of tall Cook pines, which may have been planted to block the wind when they were young. The trees are in the shape of a column, and instead of true needles, they have leaves that look like scales and are about 1/4 inch long.

Pines are native to New Caledonia (also called the “Isle of Pines”), which is in the South Pacific between Fiji and Australia. They are named after Captain James Cook.

Hiking Tips For the Ualakaa Trail

In the style of a choose-your-own-adventure, the path forks many times. You can choose a path that crosses Round Top Drive, or you can go left and see the strange symmetry of Norfolk pines planted to stop erosion.

Route 1: When you get to the end of the Ualakaa Trail, it will connect to the Maunalaha Trail and the Makiki Valley Loop Trail or Makiki Valley Trail. You now have some choices, and at this intersection you can find a map of the trail system.

First, you can just turn around and go back the way you came. This way, the Ualakaa Trail isn’t a loop but rather an out-and-back. If you have young children, this might be the best choice.

Route 2: If you go left, you’ll be on the Maunalaha Trail, which will connect to the Kanealole Trail,  it will take you in a clockwise loop until you reach the Makiki Valley Loop Trail or Makiki Valley Trail, and then bring you right back to where you started if you went left on the Maunalaha Trail.

You could also do this extra loop in the opposite direction by turning right at the intersection and going counterclockwise. This will make your hike much longer.

Route 3: The most common way to do the Ualakaa Trail loop is to turn right onto the Makiki Valley Loop Trail or Makiki Valley Trail and then turn right again on that trail, which is like making a U-turn but on a different trail.

As you walk, the Moleka Trail will split off and join the path you’re on. It will then meet Round Top Drive. When that happens, turn right and walk down the street (watch out for cars) for a short distance until you see a sign for the Ualaka’a Trail on your left.

Directions to Trailhead:

Proceed uphill on Round Top Drive. At a hairpin turn, look for Pu‘u ‘Ualaka‘a State Wayside on the left. Drive into the State Park looking for the Ualakaa trail trailhead sign at the end of the first curve of the road. Continue up the road to the parking area, then walk back down the road to the trailhead.


We wanted a shorter trail, so we just did the loop of the Ualakaa Trail, which was nice and shady. Some parts of the trail had loose soil and a lot of roots, so be careful where you step. There is a short detour in the middle of the loop that leads to a great view of Diamond Head.

Park your car at the very end of the road. This hike was great! Green and lush, with good shade. I took my dog, and he had a great time. I went on a Friday at 9 a.m. and only saw two people hiking alone the whole time. To finish, it took about an hour. We will do this one again for sure.

Ualakaa Trail

Nearby Trails to Hike

check out our video

Makki Valley Loop Trail

Find out about this 3.2-mile trail loop near Honolulu, Oahu and close to the Ualakaa trail. Most people think of it as a moderately difficult route, and it takes an average of 2 hours and 0 minutes to finish. This is a popular place to birdwatch, hike, and run, so you’ll probably run into other people while you’re exploring. The trail is beautiful and can be used at any time of year. We allow dogs, but they have to be on a leash.

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.2 mi
Elevation gain: 1,036 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

Review: If you want to run the whole thing, it will be hard, but it’s good for you. Mostly up and down the whole way. Some parts are rough, and some parts are wet. It’s safe, but watch your ankles, lol. I want to find something easier that I can run all the way without stopping as much. I’m in pretty good shape, but not good enough to run the race we wanted to.

I liked how relaxing the sounds of the birds and water were. The views weren’t great, but the nature here on the main loop is very pretty.

Manoa Cliff Trail

This out-and-back trail is 4.0 miles long and is close to the Ualakaa trail in Honolulu, Oahu. Most people think of it as a moderately difficult route, and it takes an average of 2 hours and 31 minutes to finish. This is a very popular place to birdwatch, hike, and run, so you’ll probably run into other people as you explore. The trail is beautiful and can be used all year long. We allow dogs, but they must be on a leash.

Difficulty: Moderate
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

Review: It was a great trail! A few muddy spots and a narrow path here and there, but otherwise very shaded and pretty, with a nice view of Honolulu and Diamondhead! But, if you want to make it a loop hike by walking the road from one trailhead to the other, you should know that the road is closed to both cars and people in the middle, so you have to do the whole out-and-back.

I hiked to the top of Tantalus as well. Amazing views of the ocean, bamboo forests, and valleys. It was a really nice hike, and there were so many different trails to take. To get to the trail head on Roundtop Drive, use Apple Maps. Google Maps takes you up Tantalus Drive, not to this trailhead.

Ualakaa Trail Nearby Things to Do

Hawaii Nature Center

Since its small beginnings in Makiki Valley in 1981, the Hawaii Nature Center has helped more than a million kids, teachers, families, and visitors. The organization continues to fulfill an important educational and conservation goal:

“To foster awareness, appreciation, and understanding of Hawaii’s environment and to encourage wise stewardship of the Hawaiian Islands by educating children in an interactive and immersive way.”

The result of the Nature Center’s programs in the field is a public that knows a lot about the environment and has a strong sense of place and an understanding of local natural and cultural history, environmental, and sustainability issues.

People of all ages take part in the Nature Center’s hands-on programs, seminars, hikes, and volunteer habitat restoration projects, which are all based on the curriculum. The programs teach people to appreciate, understand, and value stewardship for the rest of their lives and a great addition to the Ualakaa trail hike.

The Liljestrand House

Take a tour of the Liljestrand House at 3300 Tantalus Drive in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was designed by Vladimir Ossipoff for Betty and Howard Liljestrand, a doctor and nurse who bought the hillside site with a view of downtown Oahu in 1948. Wikipedia

The Liljestrand House is a great example of the work of architect Vladimir Ossipoff and of modern Hawaiian architecture from the middle of the 20th century. The Liljestrand Foundation’s goal is to keep the house in good shape and give that care a purpose by giving tours and using the house for charitable, cultural, and educational events.

Mr. Ossipoff’s designs are known for their seamless integration of building and site, elegant orchestration of circulation, smart management of views, and creative mix of modern and natural materials. This is another example of the pride in the history of Hawaii and a good place to stop after your Ualakaa trail hike.

Ualakaa Trail

Food and Diner Locations Near the Ualakaa Trail

Waioli Kitchen

2950 Manoa Rd, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96822-1778


I was looking for an acai bowl, and Waioli came up. I hadn’t heard of it before, but I was very interested, so I drove there. You’ll miss the driveway if you don’t know where you’re going. From the street, you can’t see this beautiful plantation house, but once you find it, you’re in for a treat!

I got the acai bowl, an almond croissant, and blueberry, lilikoi, and ginger scones to go. I also ordered a coffee press that makes enough coffee for two people. I hadn’t had real coffee since I got to the island, so this was a treat!

Sergs Mexican Kitchen

2740 E Manoa Rd, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96822-1818

Our family ate lunch here because we wanted Mexican food, and everything was great. This Mexican food might be the best we’ve ever had. The al pastor flautas, enchiladas, salsas, and Agua Fresca come HIGHLY recommended. Also, the staff was very friendly!

You May Want to Join Our Boondocking Group on Facebook For More Information

You May Want to Join Our Campfire Recipes Group on Facebook For More Information

Scroll to Top