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Pearl Harbor Bike Path offers unique view of Oahu port and its shoreline

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I was quickly surprised by how many people used the path—from athletes in cycling jerseys and families out on walks to kids on tricycles and joggers. It was nice to see.

Less enticing for some riders? The Pearl Harbor Bike Path is not the most classically scenic bike trail you’ll find in the Islands. There are no valley, beach or mountain views or crossings here. In fact, the trail passes more than a few industrial areas and, for a brief stretch, is shadowed by a major viaduct of the H-1 Freeway as it moves along the Pearl Harbor shoreline toward Waipahu. Still, I found it a fun biking path, crossing a few old wooden bridges, passing venerable shoreline neighborhoods, a small farm or two, and offering up little-seen views of the Pearl Harbor area.

The mothballed battleships of Pearl Harbor's Middle Loch.

As we began our ride west toward Waipahu, one of the first major landmarks alongside the path was Hawaiian Electric Co’s massive Waiau Power Plant. A mega-industrial sight, indeed. Soon, however, we found ourselves pedaling past a small farm, with taro and watercress patches—a pleasant reminder of the family farms that were once numerous along the Pearl Harbor shoreline, but are now largely gone.

The Pearl Harbor shoreline the bike path passes through is largely arid. But patient bikers and hikers will find the occasional patch of green here, too, including one large stretch where we pedaled beneath the shade of kiawe trees. Another cool sight along the trail was a shoreline view of the massive, mothballed battleships of Pearl Harbor’s Middle Loch, the solemn, decommissioned vessels stripped of their gun turrets and other battle-ready identifying parts.

As the path took a turn inland just beyond West Loch, a small stream resembling a protective moat began to separate neighboring homes from the bike route. A few homeowners had decided to take advantage of their mini-waterfront locations by building small backyard docks over the stream, complete with dock chairs and small boats tied to them, even bridges connected to the bike path. Other homes featured tiny vegetable and flower gardens.

Makeshift backyard docks near the bike path's Waipahu end.

The Pearl Harbor Bike Path ended abruptly, and with very little ceremony, across from the Honolulu Fire Dept.’s maintenance shop in Waipahu. It wasn’t a location big on cool scenery, but we did get to check out some old fire trucks parked in its lot before heading back east.

On the way back to Blaisdell Park and our car, we passed residents walking their dogs, folks fishing along the shoreline and fellow bikers. All in all, the path provided us a great afternoon of biking through an area we’d never see before, and didn’t know existed. Not always pretty, but definitely interesting. And that alone made the experience a memorable one.

Pearl Harbor Bike Path

• Best places to begin path:
Aiea Bay State Recreation Area, click here for map; Neal S. Blaisdell Park, click here for map

• Need to rent a bike for the path? Check out The Bike Shop in Honolulu, which offers a range of street- and mountain-bikes for rental.

Photos by Catherine E. Toth

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