Pu'u Pia is a shorter hike to the summit of a small hill in the back of Manoa Valley, and it provides great panoramic views of downtown and the entire valley ridgeline. Pu'u Pia, or arrowroot hill, is named after the plant that early Polynesians used as a starchy ingredient in haupia (coconut pudding), among other things. Although there are no pia plants found along its namesake trail, there are plenty of other wildflowers and tropical trees that make this entire hike quite interesting. Head to the summit for a picturesque view of the entire valley during sunset hours, where everything is bathed in colorful golden or pink light.
The trail starts at the back of Manoa Valley in a quiet neighborhood and follows a dense jungle riverbed briefly until reaching a hunting shelter and signed junction for the Kolowalu Trail, which makes its way steeply up Wa'ahila Ridge. Continuing on the Pu'u Pia Trail to the left, a slight incline begins and is enough to get the heart pumping! Here the trail is a network of roots that can be muddy and slippery at times but remain manageable. Hikers reach a bend in the trail at the saddle just under a mile into the trail, where the trail becomes a bit steeper as it ascends to the summit overlook. Koa trees, with their sickle-shaped leaves and yellow flowers, can be seen lining the narrower trail. Wood from these trees was used often for outrigger canoe hulls and fine furniture.
At the top of the hill are a few grassy knolls that offer amazing views of the Manoa Ridge connecting the massive peaks of Olympus and Konahuanui. A bench provides arguably one of the best viewpoints of the lower valley and downtown Honolulu. A small path continues past the bench toward the power lines where the trail terminates. Return the same way for a 2.4-mile round-trip hike that makes a perfect end to the day and is great for the whole family.