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Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail

O'ahu, Hawai'i

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Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail

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  • Getting an early start to the day, walking to the unmarked trailhead.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • The first view of Kahana Bay as you begin to climb.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Looking up trail in the early going.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Looking down toward the town of Ka'a'awa.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Taking a break and enjoying the view of the Pacific Ocean from windward O'ahu.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • The trail gets more and more sketchy as you head up.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • The Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Hiking the ridge on the Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • You really have to stay on your toes with wind gusts.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Watch your step!- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • On each side of the skinny trail are craggy cliffs hundreds of feet tall.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • The Ko'olau Mountains stretch out like a curtain of stone.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • The saddle is much scarier when you look back toward where you climbed up.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Ka'a'awa from the Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Looking north toward the town of Punalu'u on the way to the famous North Shore.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Misty low-lying clouds roll in dozens of times a day.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Getting vertical on one of the steepest sections of the trail.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • - Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • A bright and sunny day at the end of the hike.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • The view headed northwest toward Kahana Valley.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
  • Looking back toward Pu'u Manamana from across Kahana Bay.- Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Breathtaking views. Bragging rights. Not too remote.
Cons: 
Very dangerous hike. Weather sensitive terrain. Very steep.
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Region:
O'ahu, HI
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,981.00 ft (603.81 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
12.00 ft (3.66 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Running along the coast of the windward side of O'ahu lies a chain of mountains known as the Ko'olau. Jagged peaks and jungle-covered slopes make it an awe-inspiring area to visit. Translated from Hawaiian, Pu'u Manamana means "peak of great power." This is one of the most dangerous and infamous hikes on O'ahu, and it rewards you with views of the windward side that are unrivaled. Sheer cliffs hug each side of the razor-thin ridge trail, and steep ascents mean only sure footed hikers should attempt this adventure. The hike is not necessarily long, but it is definitely a challenge physically. Spectacular views of Kahana Bay and Valley, the Hui'lua Fishpond, and of the small town of Ka'a'awa will take your breath away. 

Just like many hikes in Hawaii there is no official trailhead. Instead the beginning is marked with a fluorescent trail marker wrapped around a telephone pole that lets you know it's time to bushwack up the fern-covered hill. You will find this marker on the right-hand side of Highway 83 (Kameha'meha Highway) as you walk toward Ka'a'awa just past the Hui'lua Fishpond, which would be on your left. It is very steep right out of the gate, and you might need to use the roots and branches of the trees to help pull yourself up the hill due to the loose undergrowth that makes it tough to get footing. There are some ropes tied to the trees for assistance as well.

You'll emerge from the thick foliage after a few hundred yards, and you can look back to see the first overhead view of Kahana Bay. A picturesque scene unfolds with turquoise oceans leading to a white sand beach with a wall of jungle-covered mountains sitting overhead. On many days you can see surfers at Crouching Lion's break far below, named after the rock outcropping that resembles the animal.

As you head further along the trail, things begin to really intensify. The trail becomes narrower and narrower until it is just a few feet wide and flanked on either side by cliffs that drop for several hundred feet. The trail meanders to the south, where the true ridgeline hiking begins. Here the winds come from the ocean and are shot upward along the nearly vertical walls of the Ko'olau Mountains. The mountains trap the moisture that has been traveling undisturbed across thousands of miles of open ocean; the moisture is quickly condensed into clouds, making it almost impossible to see a day without at least some rain.

Needless to say this is not a trail for very windy or stormy days. Do not hike here after long stretches of rain, either, because the ground can give out when saturated. Even several days after a big storm there are reports of the ground giving way with deaths involved. Do not stand on edges made of dirt when resting or taking photos, and stick to the bedrock as much as possible. Eastern O'ahu is one of the wettest places in America, so make sure to take the weather seriously. All this aside, the hike is done by locals with some regularity. Just stay focused, smart, and prepared, and this can be one of the coolest day hikes you will ever do.

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