Kapalama Loop Trail

HARD 12 reviews

Kapalama Loop Trail is a 7 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Honolulu, Hawaii that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,237 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

forest

river

views

wild flowers

over grown

scramble

Access to this trail is via private lands owned by Kamehameha Schools. Lately, a bypass trail has been established from the nearby Pueo Park in Alewa Heights off Alewa Drive. This is a scenic trail that traverses two ridges that connect on the mauka end behind Kapalama and Alewa. Most will take this loop in an anti-clockwise round. The first segment contours below a water tank, and pass several houses. It then becomes a ridge walk that is very pleasant with great views of Honolulu, Nuuanu, Liliha, Alewa, and Kapalama. Not to be missed is the line up of Punchbowl and Diamondhead prominently standing out against the urban sprawl. The trail has two major junctions, one where the by-pass meets Kapalama Loop Trail and the other where the a large Koa tree marks the junction to Lanihuli. Unfortunately, most of the trail is not native but rather a show of invasive species like pine, bamboo, and strawberry guava. The west ridge returns the trail back towards the ocean. This segment quickly becomes a series of switchbacks which may be overgrown due to a lack of use. This leads to Kapalama Stream. From here return uphill through some bamboo to join back to the start and return to the by-pass trail.

40 minutes ago

I liked this trail. For trail running it was good and not muddy or covered in roots. There are views of Honolulu every mile or so.

hiking
22 days ago

Took this hike out starting at the water tower at Na Pueo Park and hiked along the east ridge. The hike is pretty, but it can be very slippery in spots with so many downed pine needles and certainly requires scrambling up and down among rocks right next to huge dropoffs early in the trail, so be careful. It's certainly a nice hike, but it's strenuous. Make sure to bring lots of water and some food if you plan to go to the end of the ridge.

I strongly recommend returning along the east ridge (the way you came). It was impossible to see the return path along the west ridge; I went as far as a yellow trail marker at the end of the Alltrails map, and did not find any way to get to the west ridge.

One very important note for when you return back to Na Pueo Park coming from the east ridge - the south junction of the loop is right at the end of a barbed wire fence. As you start your hike, you will be walking along the right (east) side of the fence, then the fence will end and you'll go up three or four earthen stairs to a small clearing. When you return, these stairs will be invisible. If you miss them, you'll continue on the wrong (west) side of the fence (which is marked in multiple places as private property) and it is very easy to get lost. Yes, it's possible to continue along the loop and try to make it to the alternate exit, but it was unclear if that was possible. So - keep a GPS device with you so you know if you're close to the junction, and keep a look out for that fence! If it appears on your left when you are on the return trip heading, you will not be able to get back to Na Pueo Park :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

needs to be rated higher. Go to end out and back on the same path is recommended, the return loop is not very fun.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Harder than we thought. of course that is mostly because we went about a half mile past the loop end of the trail by mistake. beware that one it quickly becomes quit hazardous. the return loop is pretty indistinct so we returned the same way we went in. tired and hot but happy after about 6 hours of hard work.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Parked at the circle park and took the foottrail in. I liked this trail a lot perhaps bc it was more a foot trail rather than a fire road plus it was not muddy and there was about 75% tree cover. Terrain varied from dirt to roots to rocks and grass. Rustic hiking at its best, would definitely do it again. Someone also placed ribbon markers in the difficult to spot trail parts.

hiking
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The trail wasn't that hard but it was pretty long up to the top. Didn't make it all the way around the loop because the trail becomes overgrown towards the top but it's nothing terrible. View at the top is gorgeous and well worth the struggle.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

I'm giving this trail a 2 only if you do it as an out and back. we got to the middle point that people showed on their previously hiked maps, and couldn't even locate the rest of the trail. we had to turn around and go back the way we came. then we got lost on the last leg of the hike bc it wasn't well marked. we used the GPS on our phone to find a road and then followed the road to our car. the views of the city from the ridge are gorgeous but it was exhausting.

hiking
Saturday, August 16, 2014

Parked at Na Pue Mini Park and hiked the loop counter-clockwise. East ridge has some nice views looking down on the Pali. When you switch back to the West ridge, good luck. It is pretty much not makes at all. It's overgrown everywhere. I either followed my dog or had to refer to the map to try to stay on the path. I would have given this trail only 1 star, but right when got off the ridge and into the valley, the trail was pretty easy to follow, for the most part, lots of switchbacks. River was dry when we crossed it, so now break for the dog. If I did this again, big if though, I would probably stay on the east ridge and do an out and back.

hiking
Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kapalama Loop Trail is an easy to intermediate trail with both ridge views and valley switchbacks. It can be done in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, with most of the views on the east ridge side. There are some really nice big trees here - Koa, Kukui, Ohia, Cook pines, Banyan,and Monkey Pod. There are great views of Nuuanu, Kapalama and Kalihi Valleys.

Be prepared as the west ridge is actually not well maintained. There are a number of very large blow downs and the trail is overgrown with Uluhe and grass. Wearing pants is a must, else you are guaranteed lots of scratches. There were also two blow downs that literally obscured the trail and we had to climb over or crawl under to get through.

All in all it is a trail with some nice variety that I hope will not disappear!

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
Sunday, June 18, 2017

hiking
Saturday, March 07, 2015