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We pick 4 great Oahu hiking trails (and tasty end-of-hike rewards)

Kaunala Trail

Location: Pupukea, North Shore
Length: 6-mile loop trail
Level of difficulty: Beginner

If you’re heading to the North Shore for the day and have some time for a hike, consider this 6-mile loop trail above Pupukea. You’ll find the trailhead at the end of Pupukea Road. The hike winds through the verdant gulches of the Koolau foothills offering stunning views of the North Shore coastline. It’s not a heavily used trail, despite its beautiful mix of forests, ridges and sweeping vistas. You’ll also find native iliahi (sandalwood), koa and ohia trees along the trail, too. Listen carefully enough and you might hear the distinctive cry of the elusive Japanese bush warbler (uguisu).

Post-hike reward: Indulge in a slice of the award-winning chocolate haupia pie from Ted’s Bakery (59-024 Kamehameha Hwy, near Sunset Beach).

Kanea Point, Oahu. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Ron Garnett

Kaena Point

Location: End of Highway 93 (if arriving from Waianae); end of Highway 930 (if arriving from Haleiwa)
Length: 3.5 miles
Level of difficulty: Beginner and intermediate

This trail winds around Kaena Point, the isolated northwestern tip of Oahu, following an old railroad bed. Within this wild stretch of coastline is the 59-acre Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, home to many endemic and indigenous plants, nesting seabirds, Hawaiian monk seals and other native coastal species. Between November and April, you’ll see humpback whales off the coastline, breaching and playing in the warm Hawaiian waters.

Post-hike reward: If you started in Waianae, treat yourself to fried ice cream at Hapa Grill in the Marketplace at Kapolei (590 Farrington Hwy). If you started from Haleiwa, cool off at Aoki’s Shave Ice (66-117 Kamehameha Hwy).

View of Lanikai, Waimanalo Beach, and Makapuu Point from the Lanikai Pillboxes Trail. Photo by David Croxford.

Lanikai Pillboxes

Location: Lanikai
Length: About a mile
Level of difficulty: Beginner to intermediate

This surprisingly rigorous 20-minute uphill hike ends at two pillbox bunkers erected during World War II. The pillboxes were built here for good reason—the site offers sweeping views of the Windward coastline. From the trailhead at Mid-Pacific Country Club, it doesn’t take too long to scramble up to the first pillbox, which offers views of Lanikai and the Mokulua Islands. But don’t stop here—the trail’s best vistas are from the second pillbox, another five minutes up. From the second stop, you can see Oahu’s entire windward side, from the lighthouse at Makapuu Point to Mokolii Island (otherwise known as Chinaman’s Hat) near Kaaawa.

Post-hike reward: It’s a tough call between an acai bowl from Lanikai Juice (600 Kailua Road) or the Formaggio Fonduta (fondue of imported cheese, spinach, architoke and crabmeat served on golden crostini) from Formaggio Wine Bar (305 Hahani St.).

To read more about other hikes in Hawaii, check out the state-run Na Ala Hele State Trails site
or Hawaii State Parks site.
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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
HAWAII Magazine's "15 Great Hawaii Hiking Trails" guide
“Best of Hawaii” 2010: Our readers' favorite Hawaii hiking trails
Rob Pacheco: 5 Things I Love About Hiking Hawaii Island

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