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.
DSC02841 DSC02845 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.DSC02849

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.IMG_5908 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.
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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.
DSC02993 I’m sure Mr. Damon appreciates the artwork people have left.DSC02863 DSC02865 I was pretty surprised to see this fireplace which appeared to be in pretty good condition.IMG_5921 This is apparently authentic – it’s a post hole stone that helped support the home.IMG_5924

If you venture off to your right, you’ll be led to an area that used to be a swimming pool.
IMG_5932It’s filled in now. Obviously. No need to bring your swimcaps.
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We headed back down and out. And I took pictures. And James took pictures of me taking pictures.DSC02875

Then we were on the road again.DSC02881 DSC02885 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.DSC02886 We kept seeing little signage here and there. We aren’t totally sure, but we decided it was related to pig hunters.DSC02890 DSC02891 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.IMG_5941 This image shows a bit of the paved section for vehicles. It appears that the stream will just flow right over it.IMG_5942 Another sign. (Am I Captain Obvious or what?)DSC02893 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.
DSC02895 Aside from the interesting signs, we mostly just walked and enjoyed the peacefulness of the valley.DSC02899 IMG_5944

IMG_5945 IMG_5946 DSC02905 We came to this sign that referenced these famous petroglyphs that were apparently right across the stream. DSC02910 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.
IMG_5952 The kids enjoyed lunch while we searched.IMG_5954 I love how a wide angle lens makes it look like he’s 20 feet below me. Not so at all. IMG_5955 We eventually gave up and went on. We found this little offshoot, and James went to investigate.DSC02912 We stayed back and continued to snack on our food. Jerky, anyone?DSC02914 Turns out there was a clearing up there, so we went to check it out.DSC02918 DSC02920 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. DSC02921 James went off to check out what was back there. Can you see him? He’s a tiny speck.IMG_5957 It didn’t appear to be anything so he came back and we took pictures. Because that’s what we do. DSC02924 IMG_5962

Gorgeous view!IMG_5965 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.IMG_5970 IMG_5971 We walked back down and continued on our way.DSC02926 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.IMG_5973 And we got totally scratched up, but at least the view was pretty.IMG_5974 Scenery selfie.
DSC02931 I would have kept going just to see where it led, but there was lots of complaining about the bushes. So we headed back.DSC02933 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.)
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Ew.DSC02938 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.DSC02942 We just kept walking.IMG_5987 DSC02946 Somewhere around the 4-mile mark, we came to this split. The left didn’t lead anywhere as far as we could tell.DSC02952 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.)
DSC02957 This shot was taken back by the last informational sign.DSC02961 When we reached the petroglyphs rock again, we stopped to take another look. The kids stopped for another snack.DSC02973

Then Austin joined me .DSC02980And 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?DSC02979 The sunlight changed again, so they’re hard to see. But they’re definitely there – etched into the stone.DSC02985 Another look.DSC02986

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!

Hapalua: Hawaii's Half Marathon - 2015
Hamama Falls Trail