Hiking Pu`u Pia Trail with Kids

Photography by Denise Lau

Ever since our Ka’ena Point hike, my daughter Lola has been periodically asking, “When will we hike again with Abby?” Considering I carried her for about a third of the last hike, I knew she wasn’t excited about the trail - Lola just missed her playmate. But if seeing her friend is the incentive to get outdoors and active, I’ll take it.

Spring break was coming up and so my co-worker Denise and I discussed which kid-friendly trail to conquer next. Her husband suggested a short yet beautiful one he tried a few years ago called Pu’u Pia Trail.

Based on reviews we saw online, we thought the rainforest environment would be a nice change from the dry surroundings of our previous adventure. Plus we heard there would be an amazing view after just 1.2 miles. We were sold – Pu’u Pia Trail, it is!

The two hiking princesses would be having some company this time around. Denise decided to bring Abby’s younger brother Cody, a fearless toddler who prefers to go by the name Spiderman.

As we started out on the trail, it wasn’t long before we encountered a split. We were sure to choose Pu’u Pia as our path. Kolowalu, also part of the Honolulu Mauka Trail System, has a steep ascent up to Wa’ahila Ridge – definitely not appropriate for our little hikers.

Shortly after the fork, we noticed some clouds overhead. The passing clouds drizzled on us which kept us cool but also made the trail a bit muddy. Always be sure to check the weather forecast prior to your hike and always be prepared for uncertain conditions. Remember, you’re in a rainforest. You may want to keep an extra set of clothes in the car – especially for kids.

Our gradual climb took us through an ironwood forest where we hiked over a system of exposed roots. Though a bit tricky for the kids to step over, the roots served as natural stairs.

We were fortunate to get a tip beforehand to wear long socks. It protected the kids as we walked through a narrow patch of ferns which would have scratched up their ankles.

It wasn’t long before the path opened up again and we found ourselves at the summit. It was marked by an unusually high bench. It seemed odd at first until you realize the surrounding brush somewhat blocks the 360 degree view of Manoa Valley so it’s best to grab a seat and practice your perfect posture.

The trail continues for another tenth of a mile, ending at a set of telephone poles. However if you’ve come this way for the view, you can turn around at the bench.

This was our second kid-friendly hike and so far, this one is top ranking. There was more to see on this hike plus our keiki hikers appreciated the shorter trail length.

Prepare for the hike:
•  Wear mosquito repellent
•  Bring water
•  Wear sneakers, hiking sandals or proper hiking shoes. I wouldn’t advise hiking this trail in rubber slippers.
•  Wear knee high socks
•  If it has been raining, the trail may be slippery. If you have a hiking stick or pole, bring it.

Trail info (per Na Ala Hele):

Trail Length: 1.2 mi. (2.4 roundtrip)
Terrain: Mountainous, thick forest canopy
Activity: Pedestrian
Elevation: 400 ft
Parking: Do not park on Alani Lane. Stay on the trail. Pack out at least what you pack in. No open fires.
Dog Owners: Hunting may be in progress on or near this hiking trail. Hunting dogs may be off-leash while engaged in the hunt. Hikers must keep their dogs leashed at all times and remove dog waste while on this trail.
To report problems, incidents or trail damage: Call 808-973-9782

Pig control with hunting dogs occurs every Wednesday and Sunday.