Pu’u Eke & Pu’u O Umi Forest Reserve is a 5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Waimea, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
off road driving
The oldest of the five major volcanic structures on the Big Island of Hawaii, the mist-shrouded Kohala Mountains house a wonderland of dense tropical forest, magnificent waterfalls and spectacular canyons, to mention a few of the many features. Pu'u Eke is a hill of about 5088 feet in the Pu'u O Umi Forest Reserve. This trail can lead on to Pu'u Kaumo O Kaleihoohie the second highest point in the North Kohala mountains (although this is how the puu is named on current topo maps the Hawaiian translation would indicate that it would be Kuamo'o kalei o'ohie which translates to "road to a grand view"). From that you can also continue to traverse the Kohala Summit trail onto Pu'u O Umi - the highest point in the range.
Don't get me wrong - this was a great hike. However, somewhere along the way I believed there would be a great view from the top but that reward was elusive due to the low tree canopy, even though the weather was clear. The abrupt change about half way up from hiking pastureland to the moist forest bog was welcome and intriguing. The trail was muddy, however, and I found myself going knee deep in it a few times. Something better than the running shoes I was wearing would be advised. Despite being marked with flagging, it seemed easy to lose the trail, especially when searching for firm footing. Not a risk really of getting seriously lost, but if you lost the trail it could be a long and uncomfortable hike out.
This trail is about 6 miles return. The first segment is a 4WD across the neighboring grassland to the Pu'u O Umi Forest Reserve. Then it is a hike along the forest fence line to the second a-frame stile for access to the trail. Once on the trail, it is a good adventure through the pristine Ohia to get to the top. It is a cloud montane bog with lots of lichen and moss. The Ohia are one of the tallest around and the views across the "bowls" to Kaumo and Umi are majestic.
Watch out for the rolling fog that makes its way in after noon. You will need a compass due to poor visibility. Start early so that you can get in and back out before it rolls in. This trail is a favorite of local hunters, so watch out for wild boar. All in all, there are beautiful views of Mauna Kea, Hualalai, and even Haleakala from here.