The Makiki Valley Loop Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes near Waikiki on Oahu, Hawaii. Just a few kilometers out of the town center, this green oasis of lush forest and peaceful trails is a natural getaway from the hustle and bustle. Imagine walls of green, ferns reaching over the trail, natural tree arches to walk through, and the constant sound of running water.
In this blog post, I will share with you all of the details you need in order to enjoy this hike such as distance, incline, where to park, the best time of day to hike, and what to expect.
MAKIKI VALLEY LOOP TRAIL
If you are looking for a short, natural, forest trail on Oahu but don’t want to drive far from Waikiki or downtown, this is it. I actually rode my bike from Waikiki in just fifteen minutes to the start of the trail. Except for one glimpse of the highrise buildings, I was completely immersed in the dense, lush surroundings as I made my way along the hiking route of the Makiki Valley Loop Trail.
This hike has a few hundred meters of incline but it is always gradual. It’s a perfect adventure for dogs, families, and children but you should know that the terrain is often rocky or covered in tree roots. It is quite simple and safe for the most part. If you want some more hiking suggestions, check out my list of the Top Hikes on Oahu.
Makiki Valley Loop Trail Details
- Distance: 5.1km
- Incline: 280m
- Duration: 2 hours
- Difficulty: Low to moderate difficulty. Terrain is rocky with tree roots and the trail is often muddy. With almost 300m of incline, it will be a fair hike for some and a short walk in the park for others. I saw many dogs, families and elderly hikers enjoying this relatively safe route.
How to get to the Makiki Valley Loop Trail
The Makiki Valley Loop Trail begins at the Hawaii Nature Center in Makiki. This is a residential area so do your best to keep the volume down and respect the neighborhood. From Waikiki, it takes about ten minutes to drive or I rode my bike in fifteen to reach the trailhead, which I’ve pinned on the map below.
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Makiki Valley Loop Trail Map
Below is the map provided at the trailhead of the hike. While the trail is called the Makiki Valley Loop Trail, the hike actually uses a few different trails to connect throughout this route. You begin on the Makiki Arboretum Trail before joining the Kanealole Trail and then descending down the Makiki Valley Trail and the Maunalaha Trail. Signs throughout the hike do say Makiki Valley Loop Trail so you should be set.
Makiki Valley Loop Trail Parking
At the trailhead there is room for about 20-30 cars, which is usually enough although on weekends this may bleed out of the parking lot. The Hawaii Nature Center also has parking but often closes the gate, such as on weekends. They reserve the parking for visitors only so it’s best to park in the first parking, which is designate for hikers.
My Experience on the Makiki Valley Loop Trail
With just a bicycle at my disposal, I did a quick search for hikes near Waikiki that would be great for a short Oahu hiking adventure in the afternoon. The Makiki Valley Loop Trail was just a fifteen minute bike ride from my apartment so I set off to explore this 5km circular route.
When I arrived at the trailhead, I was a little bit nervous leaving my bike locked to a pole but I was happily surprised to find it unscathed upon return. As I mentioned earlier, the Hawaii Nature Center closes the gate to their driveway to cars so that it doesn’t fill with hikers. They’ve made a short diversion through the forest along the Makiki Arboretrum Trail, which leads you around the side of the road to the Hawaii Nature Center.
Here there is a toilet block and a place to fill up with water before you start the hike. Don’t be surprised to see plenty of chickens and maybe even a pig or two in this area. The trail sends you across the stream where you join the Kanealole Trail. It is a loop trail but I advise hiking the circular route in a clockwise direction otherwise you will endure ascending up the steep Maunalaha Trail instead of descending. The ascent up the Kanealole Trail side is much more gradual.
What I love about this hike is that it feels as if you are exploring through an enchanted forest right from the very first moment. Vines and ferns create lush walls, while ancient trees stand strong amidst the blanket of green. Wild flowers are scattered alongside the muddy, rocky trail as you ascend up the hill. The occasional, natural tree arch made from roots or branches gives this forest a mystical atmosphere.
About halfway through the hike, there’s a small waterfall on the inside of the trail. I noticed an ‘off-beat’ path heading down to the stream but due to the slippery conditions I stayed on the main trail. You will be able to hear the falls and can even catch a glimpse of the waterfall through the trees while standing at a small viewpoint.
The hike now reaches the Makiki Valley Trail for a short while as you make your final meters of ascent. Just before beginning the descent, you’ll catch a small glimpse of the high-rise buildings in Waikiki. Then, before you know it, you are at a junction where you will need to head down the Maunalaha Trail.
This last portion of the route sends you down a relatively steep section of ridge, which is lined by trees, rocks and roots. It’s important to focus on your footing during this section of your hike as the terrain becomes tricky and you become tired.
The trail loops back to the stream next to the Hawaii Nature Center and you retrace your steps along the Makiki Arboretum Trail to the parking lot where you began.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and review for the Makiki Valley Loop Trail on Oahu, Hawaii.
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- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
HAWAII HIKING PACKING LIST
Many people come unprepared for hiking on Oahu and that’s why there are so many rescues. Make sure you at least have the basics and you will be prepared for bad weather or any mishaps on the trail. A headlamp, rain jacket, and good hiking boots or shoes are the three main pieces of gear you need. Below are my four Hawaii hiking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
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WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY
A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?
Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018
The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII
The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST