Papali Ridge/Castle to Laie Trail

by kenji SAITO on May 5, 2013

Hiking Papali Ridge/Castle to Laie Trail

2:00am. What was I doing up so early on a Sunday morning? Boy’s Day? No, it was to join David and the crew of J, Tom, Ted, Yoshi, Randy, Troy, Chenay, Kinky and Gerwin to hike the last segment that David needed to complete the entire Koolau Mountains. We staged some cars at Laie and met at the Hauula 7-11 parking lot. Here we are, all nice and dry. That would change at the end of the day, or should I say night? Photo left to right: Tom, Yoshi, J (sitting), Troy, Ted, myself, David, Kinky, Randy and Gerwin. Photo by Chenay Borja.

Hauula sunrise

Hauula sunrise

After we recovered from mis-communication issues and re-grouped, we all struck out a little after 6:00am as the sun rose through scattered clouds.

Early hunters gets the pigs

Early hunters gets the pigs

As we made our way down Hauula Homestead Road, we noticed a bunch of hunters with their dogs that were already at the gates.

Ma'akua Ridge Trail

Ma’akua Ridge Trail

We let the dogs and hunters pass us by as they went straight to the Hauula Loop Trail and we turned left onto the Ma’akua Ridge Trail.

Sunrise stop

Sunrise stop

After crossing a dry stream bed and going up several switchbacks, we took a short break at one of the benches that were installed on the trail. From here, we took the right junction to get on the Papali Ridge Trail.

Rainbow

Rainbow

Checking out a rainbow to our right in the Ma’akua Valley, as we made our way up the trail. Usually, rainbows come after the rain. So it should be dry weather ahead. Wishful thinking.

Where is the trail?

Where is the trail?

A taste of things to come, as we went through knee-high ferns and vegetation.

Tree rest

Tree rest

One doesn’t necessarily always have to sit down to take a rest, you can be like Yoshi and lean against a tree.

Trail clearing needed

Trail clearing needed

The trail on Papali Ridge while slightly overgrown, is clearly marked and seems well-traveled.

Checking out ...

Checking out …

So far, Mother Nature was giving us a respite from the rains that frequently visit the area.

... the view

… the view

Looking out to Laie and beyond.

Rolling hills

Rolling hills

Crossing a saddle amongst the rolling hills of the Northern Koolaus.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Making our way up to a small hill with an outstanding view waiting for us.

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

Click here for the larger image.

Castle trail

Castle trail

We soon left the Papali Ridge and connected to the Castle Trail. Technically, access to Castle Trail from Punaluu Valley has been forbidden for quite some time. HTMC had legal access, but that was just recently revoked by the Bishop Estate due to over-exposure and liability concerns.

Castle Falls

Castle Falls

According to Randy, Castle Falls was the highlight of the HTMC hike when it was legally sanctioned. We all had a mere 30 seconds or so to view the falls before the clouds robbed us of the view. Then somebody turned on the sprinklers.

Lunch

Lunch

While waiting for the rest of the group to come back from looking at the falls, I noticed J taking his usual macro shots and tried my hand at it. Not as good.

Mud galore

Mud galore

 This section of the trail had shoe sucking mud. I hate mud.

KST!

KST!

We reached the Koolau Summit Trail at around noon, all cold and wet.

Lost

Lost

Even with GPS tracks, we got off the beaten path a couple of times. The Northern Koolau section is mostly broad with rolling hills and numerous spur ridges branching off. It’s very easy to get lost up here. Being socked in didn’t help either. What does help, is to have a bunch of seasoned hikers who will eventually figure out how to get back on the beaten path.

We're on the right fence

We’re on the right fence

The trail soon ran into a fenced off area, meant to keep out feral pigs and goats.

Koloa cabin

Koloa cabin

We hopped the fence to take a look at the Koloa cabin, which appears to still be under construction. It was still good enough to have a roof to keep out the rain as we took shelter inside.

It's not the Ritz

It’s not the Ritz

It felt so good to lie down on something solid and dry, even if it was only for a couple minutes. Photo by David Concepion.

Last call

Last call

A simple touch of civilization in the Koolau mountains.

That's the way!

That’s the way!

We followed the fence as it roller coastered up and down, until somebody realized we had overshot the junction to Laie. Go back! We then went back to the junction and followed the trail until it passed a heli-pad and a small meadow which we crossed.

Laie summit

Laie summit

Top of Laie summit at 6:30pm. Congrats to David for finally completing the entire Koolau’s. An accomplishment I hope to repeat one of these days. We still had five more miles to go, but it was all downhill. In the rain. Always a catch. Photo by Francis Joy.

Time to turn the lights on

Time to turn the lights on

Five of the mountain goats – J, Ted, Tom, Yoshi and Randy ran down most of the five mile trail. The rest of us just hiked it down, using headlamps for about the last two hours. We made it back to our cars around 9:30pm. This was a long day, an understatement at best. But what a hike!

GPS tracks

GPS tracks

The 15.6 mile hike took us 15 1/2 hours to complete. Cold, wet and tired. But glad to have completed my first hike on the Koolau Summit Trail.

Leave a Comment

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Troy May 11, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I remember this one.

Reply

kenji SAITO May 11, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Howzit Troy,
Yes, how could anybody forgot that loooong day! Haha. Nice hiking with you again this past weekend! See you around!

Reply

David May 8, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Where on the trail map is this cabin? I’ve been looking for it for ever on google maps… eventually doing internet searches for it led me to this page! Impressive hike BTW… in wet conditions… I gotta hand it to you guys.

Reply

kenji SAITO May 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm

Aloha David,
The Koloa Cabin is roughly in the middle of the KST crossover. Yes it was a cold and wet hike made only bearable with good company.
Mahalo

Reply

Ivs August 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Wassup again. And mahalo again for the gpx file. We will be looking for the Koloa cabin ourselves. I know this blog was from a few years ago, but did the cabin have a water catchment system at that time?

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