Kamananui Valley Road Trail
If you’re looking for an easy but (possibly) long and educational trail for the whole family, Kamananui Valley Road is a great option. It’s chock-full of beautiful scenery and history dating back to the 1500s. We thought this 8 mile hike would be the perfect way to gear up for the Hapalua Half Marathon that our family will be participating in soon. And it was! It was also a good way for us to gauge the amount of whining we’ll have to endure. (But hey, the kids were the ones who wanted to do the race, so….)
You can find great directions for this trail on Hawai’i’s Na Ala Hele website. It’s essentially a long road that is only currently used by vehicles for the management of the trail. We did see some surveyors out working while we were walking, but I don’t know what they were doing.
You’ll park at the Moanalua Valley Park, and walk up to the trailhead. Super easy.
Pretty much right away, we were greeted with informational signs put into place by the Moanalua Gardens Foundation. I love combining activity and education! I won’t tell you too much about the road because I want you to visit it yourself! (Plus I’m really bad at facts, geography and history.) But essentially, they tell you about the olden days of the place. Very interesting.
As always, this one found sticks. It’s funny how we bought them walking poles for Christmas but he’d much rather just use real ones. Before long, we came to a sign that described a “hidden house site”. So we followed the road just before the sign to see what was back there.
After a fairly short distance, we came to a clearing and the remnants of a double staircase. The staircase led to the home of a man named Douglas Damon – the son of a wealthy businessman and politician. He lived there in the early twentieth century.
I’m sure Mr. Damon appreciates the artwork people have left. I was pretty surprised to see this fireplace which appeared to be in pretty good condition. This is apparently authentic – it’s a post hole stone that helped support the home.
We headed back down and out. And I took pictures. And James took pictures of me taking pictures.
Then we were on the road again. The road follows along a stream, but it was mostly dry the day we went. This was our first sign of water, and it wasn’t much! But apparently flash flooding can be an issue. We kept seeing little signage here and there. We aren’t totally sure, but we decided it was related to pig hunters. Back in the old days, these bridges (there are 7 of them) were used by carriages to cross over the stream. They’re now blocked with big boulders, and the vehicles have another paved path to use. This image shows a bit of the paved section for vehicles. It appears that the stream will just flow right over it. Another sign. (Am I Captain Obvious or what?) We weren’t sure what these numbered posts were while on the trail, but I found out later that they coincided with information in a brochure handed out by Moanalua Gardens. The foundation offered guided tours at one point, but that isn’t happening currently. The Na Ala Hele website says they’ll be putting in new signs at some point.
Aside from the interesting signs, we mostly just walked and enjoyed the peacefulness of the valley.
We came to this sign that referenced these famous petroglyphs that were apparently right across the stream. They were supposed to be on this huge boulder that’s cemented in place because it’d been moved in the past. But for some reason, we could not find them on the rock. We were being very careful not to touch it though.
The kids enjoyed lunch while we searched. I love how a wide angle lens makes it look like he’s 20 feet below me. Not so at all. We eventually gave up and went on. We found this little offshoot, and James went to investigate. We stayed back and continued to snack on our food. Jerky, anyone? Turns out there was a clearing up there, so we went to check it out. It didn’t take long before we got to the top and found the lookout. We discovered more graffiti and the sign was completely missing in this one. James went off to check out what was back there. Can you see him? He’s a tiny speck. It didn’t appear to be anything so he came back and we took pictures. Because that’s what we do.
Gorgeous view! We came back down and realized it was a loop, so we took the opposite way down to the main trail. We found this little area. I believe this is the ruins of May Damon’s home. We walked back down and continued on our way. At around the two-mile mark, we came to the last informational sign. We weren’t exactly sure if we should turn around, keep going, or take this little trail we saw that led up higher. We decided to try the latter. And we got totally scratched up, but at least the view was pretty. Scenery selfie.
I would have kept going just to see where it led, but there was lots of complaining about the bushes. So we headed back. Then we continued on, because why turn back? We came to a super muddy area. That’s always a good time. (We tried the other side on the way back and that was much better.)
Ew. We came upon another trailhead. It was here that we spoke with a group of hikers who were returning from a trail just past this one although we didn’t see a sign for it. From my small amount of research online, it appears that the second is the Moanulua Middle Trail. I believe both can be used to reach the Haiku Stairs (aka Stairway to Heaven). We’ll have to come back and investigate further on one of our kid-free date days. We just kept walking. Somewhere around the 4-mile mark, we came to this split. The left didn’t lead anywhere as far as we could tell. The right led to what looked like the end of the road. A vehicle couldn’t go any farther, so we decided it was time to turn around. Audra was super upset about it. (Or, it could have been something else entirely. I’ll let you be the judge.)
This shot was taken back by the last informational sign. When we reached the petroglyphs rock again, we stopped to take another look. The kids stopped for another snack.
Then Austin joined me .And with the help of the changing sunlight, we finally saw the petroglyphs! There they were, right on the huge boulder. In plain sight. But I swear we could not see them before. Can you spot them right there in the middle of the image? The sunlight changed again, so they’re hard to see. But they’re definitely there – etched into the stone. Another look.
And then we just meandered on back to our van. The GPS on our phone said it ended up being more like 9 miles with the offshoots, and I’m not sure how long it took us. I’m discovering though that we’re incredibly slow in comparison to others, so you shouldn’t use our times to gauge! But the great thing about this trail is that you can walk for as long as you want. You can simply do the educational part of the hike, and it’d only be about 4 miles. I just like to torture my kids.
Let me know if you try this one out!