Looking down on Kolekole Pass. The flat-topped mountain on the horizon is Mt. Kaala, 4,025 feet, highest point on Oahu.
Hapapa is a fine, short outing in the Waianae Mountains that is little known and rarely hiked, primarily because of its out of the way location. Because the trail head is on Schofield Barracks, it requires a visitor pass or vehicle with a military sticker, plus a photo ID, to enter the base. In addition, permission must be obtained by writing to Commander, US Army Garrison Hawaii, Schofield Barracks, HI 96857, (Attn: APVG-GWY-O). The hike is about 5 miles round trip, with an altitude gain of 1,500 feet. Because of sharp drop offs along the summit ridge, it is not for children, pets, or those concerned about heights. However, the first part of the height is appropriate for all, going as far as the meadow and then along the trail through the paper bark trees, turning around as desired. The meadow is a good stop for a picnic, keeping an eye on the kids because of the steep drop along its leeward side.
To reach the trail head, enter Schofield at Foote Gate. Proceed along Foote Ave., bearing left on Kolekole Ave. Turn right at stoplight onto Humphreys Road, then left on Trimball Road. Continue to Kolekole Pass, stopping in the parking area on the left, just before the guard shack at the entry to Lualualei Naval Magazine. A large sign points to the path to Kolekole Pass Rock.
Sign for Kolekole Pass Rock
Park and follow the path, which leads uphill via some steep wooden steps to reach the rock.
Kolekole Pass Rock
The rock has a bowl-like depression on its top, with rivulets running down from it. One of the legends concerning the rock states that the rock was used for smashing the heads of criminals or enemies in time of war, the rivulets carrying the blood away. Continue past the rock, descending some steps and passing a large, fenced communications tower on the right. As the road forks past the tower, take the left, uphill fork. When the road forks again, go left, soon reaching a pretty meadow with a fine view of Lualualei and the Waianae coast.
View from meadow. The sway-back mountain in the rear center of the photo is Pu`u O Hulu, featured in my October 2006 column
Looking up from the meadow is a view of a part of Pu`u Ka`ilio, which juts out into Lualualei Valley.
The trail continues on the far left side of the meadow and soon enters a grove of tall paper bark trees. The route now follows the Honouliuli Contour Trail, which extends from Kolekole Pass to Palehua Road above Makakilo.
Hiking through the paper barks
From here, it is important to follow these directions. After crossing a rocky streambed in a gully, the trail crosses a second gully. It has now left the paper barks behind, and the trees are mostly Christmasberry and some silk oak. The trail descends gradually along a spur ridge, and just where it crosses this ridge another fainter but visible trail goes right and steeply uphill. There is a Christmasberry tree here, with a branch slightly overhanging the main trail. It should take about 30 minutes to reach this point from the trail head, minus any time spent at the rock. CAUTION: Do not turn up too early. A false trail leads up to a small, rocky knoll and dead ends. If you have doubts about these directions or your route - finding skills, it is best to take this hike with someone who knows the way.
The new trail is steep through the Christmasberry, and levels out somewhat on a grassy slope.
Heading up the new trail
To the north is a good view of Kalena, Oahu's second highest peak
Kalena [on the right], second highest peak on Oahu, 3,504 feet high
Looking back: Schofield main post in the center, with the Koolau Mountains far on the horizon
As the trail continues upward, the first view of the leeward side appears.
First view of Leeward Oahu
Eventually the trail reaches and follows a steep, rocky outcropping
Note the waving hiker, halfway up the rocky outcropping
Finally reaching the main ridge, a dramatic view of the Waianae Mountains unfolds.
Pausing on the main ridge to enjoy the view. The peak of Hapapa is on the far left
Stunning view of the Waianae Mountains, with Ohikilolo looming at right center
Reaching the top of Hapapa
Looking down on the Kolekole Pass Road
This hike ends at Hapapa, 2,883 feet high. The trail continues along the ridge to Kanehoa , and from there down to the vicinity of the Dole village in Kunia. It is a great hike with fabulous views, but the route along the ridge is not recommended and may no longer be safe. The last time I did this was in the late 1990s with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club, and ropes were installed in the tricky places. The club no longer does the hike, the trail receives no maintenance, and the ropes are probably gone.
NEXT MONTH: MOKULEIA TRAIL
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This is a good article.
Went up this yesterday and got to the top by sunset and went back down in the dark. Not recommended, but still an adventure. You're right though, Richard, there are no longer ropes on the trail, a couple down in the soft bark trail but not after that. The ridgeline is still wide enough to get up and down, but not without some anxiety. lol.
Again, great hike, and awesome article.