Wiliwilinui Trail

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Wiliwilinui Trail
Photo: (c) 2014 ChrisDacus.com

Wiliwilinui Trail

This is an easy hike along an old service road built in 1941. Since the closure of Mariner's Ridge, this has become the easiest summit trail and often the trail I hike when I have 2 hours. So I've hiked this trail more than others recently. I usually walk the Jeep trail until it turns into a regular narrow trail which is 1.5 miles one way. Always looking for a moment when something awes me. Well this trail never had a moment of awe, until today. It all changed when I saw the above view. The landscape is a carpet of native species including Uluhe fern, a nice Koa tree and a few Ohi'a trees in the distance. The deep blue skies frame some unreal puffy clouds. Wow!

It always amazes me the things you never notice then one day....aha! A reminder that life is good. I can't wait to hike it again :)

I love history and after this photograph I was really curious to learn a little more about this hike.

Wiliwilinui literally means large Wiliwili  referring to the majestic native tree Wiliwili. The Wiliwili, Erythrina sandwicensis, is a species of flowering tree that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It's only found in Hawaii and certainly an iconic tree. It is typically found in Hawaiian tropical dry forests on leeward island slopes up to an elevation of 600 m (2,000 ft).

Hike Information

Round trip: 6 miles
ROI (effort/reward): High ROI  
This is an intermediate trail which starts at the top of the Waialae Iki subdivision.  As the H-1 freeway ends turn left up Laukahi Street just past  Kalani High School.  Go through security and get a pass before entering the upper end of the subdivision. There is parking at the entrance of the trail. The trail starts on a ridge at about 1100 feet.  The trail is a combination of paved road, dirt 4 wheel drive road and steep trail climbing. Wiliwilinui Trail begins on a dirt access road through Formosa Koa and Guava Forest. As the road climbs up the ridge, it becomes native Koa-Uluhe forest. The trailhead is about 1.5 miles up the access road. The trail climbs straight up the ridge to a HECO tower. Continue past the tower to the Koolau summit. This trail offers opportunities for viewing a variety of native plants and, from the summit, Honolulu and Waimanalo. Nice grassy patch to sit and enjoy a snack.

Trail History

The Oahu Ko’olau Summit Trail complex was constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a result of collaboration between the Territorial Forestry Division and the United States Army in soliciting Congress for critically needed emergency conservation work funds. During this period, trails were constructed in the Ko’olau Mountains of Oahu for the purpose of improving access to remove feral animals and for military defense and Wiliwilinui has a military beginning.

The military improved the trail in 1941. Here's an excerpt from the Pearl Harbor commission:  "Wiliwilinui road and trail improvement in 1941,was estimated to cost $33,550 in construction covering improvement of the existing 15,000 feet of road at Wiliwilinui Ridge, eliminating sharp curves and providing adequate turnout. It also covers construction covering of a 6-foot pack trail extending from the end of the existing road to the main crest of Koolaupoko Ridge area." Interestedly many trails were funded with WW II military funds. Here's a link to a list of trail funded after Pearl Harbor: (http://ibiblio.org/pha/congress/Army%20Board%20Exhibits/Exhibit%201A.pdf)

The last house on the left before the trail entrance was the site of WWII gun batteries called Battery Wilridge. Two gun pits are still seen from aerial photographs. (Location - http://wikimapia.org/7628317/Gun-Emplacement-1-Battery-Wilridge) The site was home to two double 8 inch guns (http://eugeneleeslover.com/ENGINEERING/8-inch-turret.pdf)

Battery Wilridge was named for Wiliwilinui Ridge, a spur of the larger Koolau Mountain Range.
Initial plans called for the battery to be built at “Wilhelmina Rise,” an East Honolulu subdivision. On May 27, 1942, Wiliwilinui Ridge was selected as the battery site. Construction of Battery Wilridge commenced on June 15, 1942, and the army occupied the lands in July 1942. Work was completed by December 26, 1942.



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