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Wahiawa Hills/Kaukonahua Stream

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"You can't be old and wise, if you were never young and crazy."

Updated: March 23, 2017

Location: Up Wahiawa Heights is the Wahiawa Hills Trail and the stream where you can go tubing!

Type: Forest hike

Hike Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

Total Time: 5 to 6 hours (more if you get lost)

Distance: ~ 5.5 miles

Elevation: ~1595 feet

Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: no
  • Pet Friendly: no
  • This trail is very confusing especially with all the pig trails here. Go with somebody who has done the hike before.
  • Gauge your time wisely. Expect at least 6 hours for this hike if this is your first time. Plan to get lost and make sure you have enough time to get out of the forest before dark.
  • We were floating for about 3 to 4 hours. The stream wasn't flowing as much as we wanted it to, so at some parts we had to get up and wade past the rocks.
  • I think the optimal stream height should be about 3 feet. You can check the water levels on the USGS website and search for the North Fork Kaukonahua Stream. (NF Kaukonahua Str) You can check out the website here.
  • We brought ribbons with us to help us get through the forest. It also helped us on our way back out.
  • Bring more than one floatie because your first floatie will probably pop from the rocks.
  • Do not go on this hike if there is a flash flood warning! The stream can be extremely dangerous and will turn into rapids.
  • If the stream is flowing fast, it is a good idea to bring a helmet to protect your head from banging against the rocks. However, when in doubt, just turn back.
  • The first big stream crossing on the North Fork is where you will exit the stream after the tubing. However, you can continue floating for a little while more around the bend and come back up to the forest in a different location if you know the way.
  • Kaukonahua stream is the longest stream on Oahu reaching about 30 miles and is the only stream where you can go tubing.
  • Be sure to clean up any trash or rubbish from your food or drinks. Leave the place cleaner than you found it!

Your hiking backpack

  • 3 Liters of water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • GoPro camera
  • 2 or 3 floaties
  • Alcohol (optional on the float)
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • Towel

Directions

Take Kunia or the H-1 freeway towards Wahiawa. Continue up to Wahiawa Heights. At the end of the road the trail starts by the water tower.

Our Journey

I have done this hike twice, and both times I got lost! This is one of the most confusing hikes I have even been on. I can honestly say though, that after this second time getting lost, I am more familiar with the forest and the direction to go. We headed up to Wahiawa Heights at around 12pm. We had no idea what we were in for and that we wouldn't have enough time to make it out before dark. We entered the forest and immediately took a left down a path through the paper back tree forest. First mistake. The correct path is a little further down maybe after ten minutes or so walking. Then you take a left down the hill. The immediate left took us through the South Fork of the stream and made us feel that the stream wasn't flowing at all. The water was brown and muddy. However, the trail took us around and back to where we started. We went back again and took a not so noticeable route up on the left. Then the trail split into three. Taking the right path was another wrong route. We ended up looping back to the same path we were on earlier. There were two more choices, up the middle to the top or to the left. We chose the left path. However, I believe even going up to the middle would take us to the same place because they eventually both met up at another junction. However, at the junction you take a left down a steep hill. This leads you to the first stream crossing. And this is also where you will get up out of the stream after tubing. There is also a jump spot from up on the cliff called "Pistol Flats". I'm not sure if people still make this jump, but I have seen videos of people jumping here before. After this, you go up and down countless amounts of hills, thus the name "Wahiawa Hills". Some hills are pretty long and tiring, but don't worry! You'll have a chance to cool off in the stream for 3 to 4 hours after all this! After the first big hill, the first time we made a mistake by heading through the paper back tree forest on the left. It was really confusing because the trail becomes faint, due to all the leaves covering the trail. Some of the trees are also black because of the forest fires that happened here. This made it even more difficult to find the trail. Do not touch the trees either, unless you want your hands to turn black from the char. However, this time we stuck to the right and the trail became clear. There were a couple more hills, and we were getting worried that we were heading in the wrong direction again. But we starting descending and eventually we heard the stream! Finally we saw the stream. What a beautiful sight! It was flowing and crystal clear! We all started blowing up our floaties and ate some snacks before the long float back. I estimated the float to be about an hour and a half to two hours, but I was wrong. It was more like 3 to 4 hours. And because the stream wasn't flowing as fast as we wanted it to, the float was even longer. The sun was setting fast, and what was fun and excitement, turned to anxiousness and afraid that we wouldn't make it out before dark. With every bend and turn in the stream the light was fading faster and faster. With no idea how much longer we would be floating, we started wading through the water as fast as we could. Stumbling over the rocks, and luckily the stream wasn't too deep and we could walk the rest of the way. I made it to the junction in the stream connecting back up to the forest right before dark. Unfortunately the others were still far behind. We waited for everybody at this point, because it would have been impossible to find this spot in the dark. Finally after everybody was together, we busted out our headlamps, flashlights, and phones and made our way back up through the forest in the dark. I'm so glad we put up ribbons, because we would have had a hard time getting out of that confusing forest without them. If you see orange ribbons here, we put them up to help you navigate through this forest! We made it out at around 7:30pm. A concerned neighbor greeted us on our way out and we told him we all made it out safely. Next time, we are going to start the hike at 9 or 10am just to be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The start of the hike by the old water tower!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were a couple of forest fires here on this trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The confusing paper back tree forest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go straight for about ten minutes before taking a left down the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the other route we took, which took us a little longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We crossed the brown and muddy South Fork of the stream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cool path through a fallen tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting views through the forest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We've been here before, twice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think this is the most important part of the hike. Once you reach here, you take the left path and you should be in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a left down the steep hill and BAM! We found the stream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Pistol Flats. People used to jump off that high cliff on the left.

The water does get pretty deep over there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess these rocks will be our marker for where to stop and get out of the stream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were some berries on the hike too, but not sure if they are edible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing on to the hills!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will see a bunch of these steep hills on this trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stick to the right here and the trail should open up and become visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going to cook some pig later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The black trees from the forest fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also saw a water catchment reservoir as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was full. I wonder who comes to collect the water?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stream is somewhere down on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another fallen tree blocking the path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After what seemed like forever, we were finally descending down to the stream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First sight of the stream below. So beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody was relieved to finally see the stream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading down to the stream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to start blowing up our floaties!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The stream wasn't flowing as much as we wanted it to, but it was still super fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here we go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just floating along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had some Corona's and Windward Jerky to keep us going on our long float!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stream was pretty calm today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At some parts, it was too shallow so we had to walk across.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definitely go after a flash flood or heavy rain to make sure the stream is flowing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We used some floaties to hold our bags too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some parts of the stream got pretty deep around 10 to 12 feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun was setting on us and we weren't drifting fast enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many bends in the stream, and we didn't know how much farther it would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group drifted apart and separated. Some of us were floating faster than others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We're still floating, but for how much longer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One last Corona, I promise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the sun set, we decided to start walking already and tried to get through the stream as fast as we could. We made it out of the forest in the dark.

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