Makaua Falls

Dec 29, 2016

With: Jackie Burd

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This wasn't a peak climb, but it was kinda cool and deserves some mention. In the morning we had gone ziplining at ClimbWorks in North Oahu, an interesting activity, but not one I'd make a habit of continuing. We had a luau planned at the Polynesian Cultural Center for the evening, something I find even less appealing since it seems a very Disneyland-esque experience with booths and shops trying to sell me something around every corner and the cultural experiences looking a bit unconvincing. But the family enjoyed it, so I really shouldn't complain - just not my cup of tea. In between we had time for a short hike so Jackie and I set out for Makaua Falls. The trailhead in Ka'a'awa is found at the end of Huamalani Rd. I had driven up here a few days earlier and found the end of the road surrounded by homes. What I didn't notice (and impossible to see if you don't know it's there) is the unmaintained trail leading right between two houses through the trees. There's extremely limited parking (two spaces right at the TH) so it's best to start from Swanzy Park along the highway just down the road. We were staying in a home next to the fire station so it was super-convenient to be able to just start the hike from the house. It's a short hike of less than a mile each way, traveling through a small jungle canyon to its head where a high, 400-foot waterfall drops down from the clouds above. There are ribbons periodically to help you find your way as the good trail isn't continuous and requires a few stream crossings (easily done without getting wet) and mild boulder-hopping (one TR I read made it seem like there was a LOT of boulder-hopping, but that just isn't the case). It can be busy with mosquitoes, so I'd advise long pants and shirt, but that doesn't seem to bother most people that visit the place. There are two shorter waterfalls that must be surmounted enroute, the first a tricky little upward traverse with a thin handline for support, the second a beefier climb where a collection of tattered ropes are necessary to surmount the slippery rock for about 20ft. Both are suitable for novices with some guidance. Jackie found the second rope-assisted climb quite fun and I would have to agree. There was another party of six or so 20-somethings, guys and gals, that had started on the trail ahead of us. Jackie was happy to find that we were faster than them, but not thrilled to have to share the end of the trail and the high waterfall view with them. I didn't really care too much about hanging out and giving the mosquitoes a chance to get to me, so was happy to turn around almost as soon as we arrived. There was almost no water flowing down today, not surprising since it had rained little in the past two days. The trail was surprisingly non-muddy (and seems to not get too much so even on rainy days) and a good one when you have just a few hours and are tired of the usual Oahu mud.


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