Pupukea to Laie

by kenji SAITO on May 25, 2013

Hiking Pupukea to Laie

Back for another grinder. I joined Ted and his crew of Steve, AJ, J, Tom, Laredo, LyZel, Sara, Heather, and Randy. We were piggybacking on Marvin’s first leg of his three day trek from Pupukea to Waiahole Uka. What a way to spend the Memorial Day weekend! We were doing the abbreviated version from Pupukea to Laie, which was far enough for me.

No hunters this time

No hunters this time

After staging some of our cars in Laie, we all met at the end of Pupukea Road. There are actually some very nice houses nestled in this area. We set off past the Boy Scout Camp and Sunset Ranch and headed off into the hills of Pupukea.

On the beaten path in Pupukea

On the beaten path in Pupukea

Eventually the dirt trail turned into a stretch of asphalt road known as Paalaa Uka Pupukea Road, which was originally built by the military.

Off the beaten path

Off the beaten path

After pounding the pavement for about 40 minutes, we finally came to the junction that would lead us into the bushes.

Which sign to follow?

Which sign to follow?

A short while later, we came across these well constructed signs that pointed to a summit lookout.

Pupukea summit

Pupukea summit

A wide open area fringed with heavy vegetation marked the summit lookout. Light rain showers resulted in a number of us digging into our backpacks for some rain gear.

Back on the trail

Back on the trail

We got back on the trail and thankfully, left the rain showers behind us.

Windmills

Windmills

Looking north to Kahuku and the wind farm populated by giant pinwheels.

"True" Pupukea Summit

“True” Pupukea Summit

Group photo. Back row left to right: Marvin, Steve, Ted, LyZel, Laredo, Sara and Randy. Front row left to right: myself, Tom, J, AJ and Heather.

View of Laie

View of Laie

Looking out towards Laie with the native Loulu Palm trees dotting the flanks of the Koolaus. It was around this point in the hike, that my foot got stuck in a tree root and my body went the other way. Now I had a nicely sprained ankle halfway through the hike. Nothing like an injury to build character. Or something like that.

Follow the sign

Follow the sign

The trail soon became a thicket of strawberry guava trees, ferns and heavy jungle vegetation.

Laie summit

Laie summit

As we neared the Laie summit, the heavy growth tapered off somewhat, but it was still a bear.

In the horseshoe

In the horseshoe

The wind was whipping up at the summit, Laredo is one tough bastid hiking sans shirt. I don’t see how he does it. Group photo. Back row standing left to right: Heather, J and Marvin. Front row sitting left to right: Ted, myself, Tom, Steve, Randy, LyZel, Laredo, Sara and AJ. Photo by Heather Mina. Marvin and our group soon parted ways as he continued on the KST and we went down the Laie trail.

Going down

Going down

As we descended down the Laie trail, we soon left behind the clouds and cold, biting wind. Nice change of pace from the last time. 

Clear views

Clear views

We could actually see the coastline and the ridges coming down. The last time we were on the trail, it was under the cover of darkness and rain.

Laie falls trail

Laie falls trail

The rest of the group made their way up to Laie Falls, while I choose to continue hobbling down the trail.

Laie Falls in all her glory

Laie Falls in all her glory

The group had a nice and refreshing swim in the pool below Laie Falls, makes me wish I had gone up the trail, sprained ankle and all. Photo by Tom Engle.

Laredo in all his glory

Laredo in all his glory

NSFW…LOL. Photo by Tom Engle.

Pine trees

Pine trees

The abundance of Pine trees marked the lower elevation of the trail, reminds me of the Wa’ahila trail.

Dirt bike trail

Dirt bike trail

For some reason, walking down this trail as it transistions from strawberry guava trees and uluhe ferns to pine trees and dirt bike trails, make it seem longer than it’s five miles. Maybe it’s just me.

Aloha!

Aloha!

Colorful signs and language greeted us as we made our way out from the trail. These made my day.

GPS tracks

GPS tracks

The 13.3 mile hike took us under 8 hours to complete even with a side trip to Laie Falls and my bum ankle. For some of us, it was off to Papa Ole’s for some ono grinds after getting back to our cars. I’m so glad we didn’t need to use headlamps on this hike.

Leave a Comment

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Nate Luzod March 30, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Hey Kenji great write up as always. I’m thinking of doing this one soon – is there any chance of confusion between the top of Pupukea to the top of La’ie? Pretty straight forward or are there side trails that can get you off course?

Reply

kenji SAITO April 1, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Howzit Nate,
If I remember correctly, it’s pretty much straightforward, you got signs pretty much guiding the way. The only point is when you get off the paved road and into the bushes, there is a “road narrows” sign that marks the junction. Miss that and you may wander for awhile. I can send you the gps tracks if you want.
You plan to take Max too?
Mahalo!

Reply

Nate Luzod April 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Kenji. I’ve done Pupukea and La’ie separately but not the connection – sounds like I *might* be able to pull it off without getting lost. Thanks for offering the track but I’ll give it a shot without it.

Max logged 18 miles this past weekend (Hau’ula-Papali Loop and La’ie) and seemed fine so I’ll probably bring him on this one. Mahalo!

Reply

zack June 19, 2014 at 1:12 am

I was hoping to go from pupukea to malekehana or laie. Would you mind sending me the gps file for the trail? I’ve been to the summit off the paved road but no further. email is stonezone @ gmail.

Thanks!

Reply

kenji SAITO June 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Howzit Zack,
I’ll email it when I get home tonight. Have fun. If I remember correctly, the trail is pretty much straight forward, didn’t really have any tricky junctions.
Mahalo

Reply

Rob Henninger January 17, 2015 at 9:29 am

Sir,
Great post. We started the Laie Falls/Summit hike yesterday and believe the map was misleading. Although it was hand drawn and not-to-scale, it indicated that it was about two hours to the summit from the pine forest. Well, after hiking moderately for about two hours (from the pine forest) it seemed that we were nowhere near the top and turned around to head back down. I think we will give your route a run this next weekend from the other side and would like to know how long it took you to complete the hike. Can you also send me the GPS file? Thank you and great post!

Rob

Reply

kenji SAITO January 17, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Aloha Rob,
Glad you enjoyed the post. It took us roughly 8 hours from start to finish, this with a side trip to Laie Falls and my sprained ankle, so your time may vary. Hope you have great weather next weekend! Emailed you the tracks.
Mahalo!

Reply

Ben Leppard February 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Planning to mountain bike at Pupukea Monday and want to explore the beginning of your route (paved portion mostly) for next KST adventure. How for up your track do you think one can negotiate on a MTB? I imagine up to the turn off the paved road is as far as you could make it…

BTW, I love your posts and particularly the detailed maps you provide.
Thanks,
Ben

Reply

kenji SAITO February 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Aloha Ben
If I remember right, might be hazy as it was awhile back, I think after we left the paved road, there was at least 1-2 miles that a MTB could make it. But it might be soggy after the heavy rains this weekend.
Thanks and glad you enjoy the posts!
Mahalo

Reply

Ivs August 3, 2015 at 11:49 pm

Aloha. Could I ask if you could email me the gps file?

Reply

kenji SAITO August 4, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Aloha Ivs,
I just emailed it to you. Please be advised that GPS tracks are not 100% accurate and the terrain and trails constantly shift and change.
Mahalo

Reply

Ivs August 4, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Got it. Awesome! Mahalo!

Reply

Lupe August 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Thanks for this great post. We are planning on hiking this trail in September. Would you mind sending the GPS tracks? Mahalo

Reply

kenji SAITO August 18, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Aloha Lupe,
Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for visiting my site. I have emailed the tracks, but please keep in mind that the tracks are not 100% accurate and the terrain/trails do change over time. Be safe and have fun!
Mahalo

Reply

Lupe August 18, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Got it. Mahalo #HappyTrails

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