Pu’u Pia Trail is a stunning hiking trail located in Oahu, Hawaii, offering visitors an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the island. This easy-to-moderate hike winds through a lush forest, providing picturesque views of the Ko’olau mountain range. While relatively undiscovered by tourists, this trail is a popular destination for locals seeking a peaceful and scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
PU’U PIA TRAIL GUIDE
In this blog post, I’ll share all the details about the Pu’u Pia Trail such as how to get there, the distance, elevation, and what type of views to expect on this route.
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.
PU’U PIA TRAIL DETAILS
Pu’u Pia Trail offers a scenic hiking experience with a total distance of approximately 3.6 miles or 5.8 kilometers. The trail typically takes around 2 hours to complete, depending on your hiking speed and how often you stop to take in the stunning views. This easy-to-moderate hike is suitable for all levels of hikers, with no real dangers or steep drop-offs to worry about. The trail features a steady incline, making it a great workout for those in decent shape. The total incline for the Pu’u Pia Trail is approximately 205 meters, showcasing breathtaking panoramic views of the Ko’olau mountain range.
- Hike Distance: 3.6 miles, or 5.8 kilometers.
- Hike Duration: 2 hours
- Hike Difficulty: Pu’u Pia Trail is an easy-to-moderate hike, suitable for all levels of hikers. The trail features a steady incline, making it a great workout for those in decent shape. There are no real dangers or steep drop-offs to worry about.
- Hike Incline: 205 meters
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- 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!
HOW TO GET TO THE PU’U PIA TRAIL
The trailhead is located at the end of Alani Drive, near the intersection of Alani Drive and Round Top Drive. If you’re using Google Maps, the pin provided below should lead you directly to the trailhead. There is parking available on the residential streets above and below the trailhead that is signed on the roadside.
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MY EXPERIENCE ON THE PU’U PIA TRAIL
The Pu’u Pia Trail is a perfect little out-and-back route for a morning hike on Oahu. Nestled at the top of Manoa Valley, it’s frequented by locals but few tourists venture this way, with preference placed on Manoa Falls as the premier hiking trail in the region.
The trail has no dedicated parking lot but you’ll find a park on the steep, winding roads nearby. The trail is well-signed throughout, including the trailhead that has an official trailhead sign for Pu’u Pia Trail and the Kolowalu Trail. These two trails both begin at the same spot but there is a split in the trails after about one kilometer.
This trail is not friendly to white shoes and is commonly in a muddy state. Right from the start of the route, we found ourselves squelching through the mud on the trail.
It’s quite remarkable to be on this trail as it becomes a dense forest after just a few minutes on the path. The suburb is left behind as vines and ferns hang over the path. Intertwined roots help to provide some stability amidst the slippery clay path.
After about one kilometer, you will reach the fork in the trail. It’s pretty clear to stick to the left for the Pu’u Pia Trail and to the right for the Kolowalu Trail.
The trail by this point is already immensely wild and incredibly beautiful. However, as the trail progresses it only becomes intensifies with the stunning, lush greens creating a majestic forest scene.
The AllTrails map actually has this listed as an out-and-back 3.1km trail. However, it is a 3.1km one-way track so a total of about 6km. At about the 2km mark, there’s a stunning little bridge leading over a stream.
You are now close to the summit ridge after crossing the bridge. The summit ridge gives you some fresh views as the trail emerges from the forest to provide views of the Koolau Mountain Ridge.
On a clear day, hikers can catch a glimpse of Mount Olympus, Konahuanui, Waikiki, and the Manoa suburbs below.
The trail has a few summit clearings but I thought the first one, facing the Koolau Mountain Range, was the best. The second clearing had a random bench with very minimal views due to the height of the shrubs and trees.
The final viewpoint looks out over Honolulu and Waikiki. There is a clear ‘End of Trail’ sign here, so you know this is the time to turn back and retrace your steps through the forest back to the trailhead.
That basically wraps up the review of this short and sweet route, the Pu’u Pia Trail. I hope you enjoy your time on Oahu and have a great hiking experience.
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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.
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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!
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