Hiking Mokuleia Access Road
Of Oahu’s two mountain ranges, the Koolau Range offers the most abundant hiking trails, but the Waianae Range also sports some hidden beauties. Driving along a lazy stretch of road flanked by ag fields and a humble house here or there on the northwestern side of the island, blink and you’ll miss the entrance to Mokuleia Access Road. It’s a forgotten little road, accustomed only to foot traffic only. Overgrown grass and weeds that have blossomed into a pretty mess of yellow, white and purple flowers swirling with bees and butterflies encroaches from both sides.
Suddenly, the distinct wail of a peacock catches my ears and my eyes survey the trees, tall grasses and rolling hills for a glance at the artistically plumed culprit. Instead, I’m greeted by an incessant string of conversation from other avian breeds, some so amusing in chirp pattern and tone that they elicit a chuckle.
A rustle in the bushes parallel to the road exposes a nearly camouflaged, single file procession of strolling cattle, their hefty tread leaving a muddy mess of hoof prints that are readily filled by a trickle of clear water from a stream that runs alongside their pathway. A burly, blonde bull, on the other side of a barbed wire fence, halts awhile, gazes in my direction and grunts a deep, grating, condescending rumble.
The rest of the Island is under rain, but here, only an occasional light sprinkle showers down its blessing. A gentle slope steadily builds into a calf-strengthening incline, opening to a horizon of gorgeous views that dead-end where the blue Pacific meets the cloudy firmament. Over the three-and-a-half miles to the top, the road crawling high toward a thicket of Cook pines, I encounter several bicyclists forcing their pedals uphill. They’ll be rewarded on the return trip with a downhill rush. Couples amble by with their dogs, as does a family with a couple of ambulatory youngsters and a stroller.
The strenuous climb along the paved road culminates at Mokuleia Campground at an area called Peacock Flats. The shaded grassy meadow is perfect for picnicking and some reclined sky gazing before the decent.
While the way up involves huffing and an eye trained on those x-marks-the-spot pines, the way down offers the luxury of visually soaking in nature’s loveliness, from the pervasive, color-saturated blues and greens to the mysterious mist-huddled valley nestled along the winding, bucolic walkway. It’s a refreshing day in the country, easy on the eyes and spirit, even if the legs are left a bit well-worn and deliciously achy.
TRAIL: Mokuleia Access Road
LENGTH: 7 miles round trip
HOW TO GET THERE: From Waikiki, get on H1 heading west. Take the H2 exit heading north and continue onto Wilikina Drive, which eventually becomes Farrington Highway. Mokuleia Access Road will be on the left. Look for a green entry gate next to a dense coconut palm grove. Park outside the gate and continue on foot. There is no road sign, but foot traffic signs at the entrance clearly mark the road as Mokuleia Access Road.
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