Saturday, April 12, 2008

Makapuu Ridge Hike II

If you had asked me this morning what the title of today's blog post was going to be, then I would have told you, "The Dragon's Nostrils," for that was our goal. We didn't make it to the Dragon's Nostrils, but we did have an excellent hike up the Makapuu Ridge.

For the boys and me, this was our second time hiking the Makapuu Ridge. It was the first time for LW and our friends visiting from the mainland. We had a great time on our previous Makapuu Ridge hike that I wrote about in this post.

Now, Ball Chapter 29 calls this hike a "loop" and tells you to hike up the rugged north side of the ridge (rocky and challenging for small children) and then come down the nice paved path. Last time I came here with the boys, I wasn't so sure about the rugged climb up the north side, so we just went all the way up and back down the paved path on the south side.

Today, thanks to an error in the Oahu Revealed book, we sort of unintentionally took the "loop" path suggested in Ball Chapter 29. We were looking for the Dragon's Nostrils (a pair of blowholes that make it seem like a dragon inhaling a hiss of air and then exhaling steam). The description in the book said to go PAST the parking lot and then hike up to a whale watching spot about 400 feet up. At first, I thought the authors were talking about the same whale watching spot along the paved path up the south side of the ridge, but then since it said to go PAST the parking lot, I figured I was wrong and there must be another whale watching spot.

Nope. I was right the first time. The whale watching spot they refer to in the book is the one right along the nice paved path going up from the parking lot. I don't know why they didn't write to just park in the parking lot and walk up the path.

In any case, by the time we decided I was wrong and there wasn't another whale watching view point on the north side, we were already half way up the hill. We figured it would be easier to just finish the climb to the top on the rocky side, then take the easy way back down along the paved path.

The boys did a great job today. Holy cow, Batman! ES was a trailblazer today! While I brought up the rear helping YB up the rocks...

...ES was on "point" at the head of our formation, leading the charge up the hill.

Note that second picture was taken by LW looking up the hill to ES (he was with our visiting friends), right after she looked back down the hill to take the previous picture of me and YB.

At the top of the ridge, this was the view back down to where we had parked. (Note: this is a view from Point C looking back down to Point B on Ball's trail map).

The boys and I climbed up to the very top of the ridge to stand on top of the WWII bunkers again. They were excited to climb through the inside of the bunkers. I didn't take the camera with me, but the views of the windward side, Rabbit Island, and Koko Head were just as spectacular as last time (check out the photos on the previous blog post). The boys also found a couple of new bunkers to climb through on the north side of the ridge.
We saw two or three hang-gliders swooping and soaring back and forth above us on the trail today.
The whale watching view point referenced in Oahu Revealed as the trail head down to the Dragon's Nostrils is actually about halfway down (halfway up?) the paved path from the parking lot. We looked down over the edge, and sure enough, we saw the lava "table" mentioned in the book. Unfortunately, it was low tide, so the blowholes weren't blowing. The book does mention that at low tide there are nice tide pools you can swim in, and we could see several people down there in the tide pools.
I overheard another guy talking about the Dragon's Nostrils and asked him about it. He confirmed that was the right spot to go down to the Dragon's Nostrils and that they wouldn't be blowing because it was low tide. He also said if our kids were able to climb the north side of the ridge, then they wouldn't have any problem climbing down to the lava table below. We decided against it though, because the boys were pretty tired and the blowholes weren't active. We made mental notes for future excursions to spot the Dragon's Nostrils though.

Family photo with Koko Head crater in the background.
This was on our way back down the paved path.

In the end, this ended up being a substantially shorter hike (mileage wise) than our previous Makapuu Ridge hike, because climbing up the north side is such a short but steep hike. Here was our altitude profile for today's hike.
MAKAPU'U HIKE SUMMARY (but from a different perspective than our first trip): I know when I'm trying to decide on a new hike location, I search for an overview about the hike that will help me judge if it's doable with two little boys. For anyone else looking to do this hike, here's a quick summary:
Map: This hike is covered by Ball Chapter 29 (see aside below). THIS TIME, we DID follow the "loop" described by Ball. It was a little challenging going up the first part from B to C on the map. My boys did fine and made it to the top under their own propulsion, but I was glad I had more than one adult this time to provide 5-on-2 coverage and assistance getting up the rocks.
Mileage: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: The parking lot is just under 130 feet, and the bunker on top of the ridge is at 730 feet, so it's approximately 600 feet of elevation gain. (Yes, this is the same thing I wrote last time, but the numbers were the same this time).
Terrain: From Point B to Point C on Ball's trail map, it is rocky and you have to take it slowly and carefully with children (see the photo above). Going back down the south side of the ridge though, it's a paved path at a gradual slope back down to the parking lot. There are some steep drop-offs along the sides here and there, so watch your children carefully.
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes elapsed time, including a couple of pit stops for eating fruit snacks, drinking water, and watering a few of the cacti on the side of the path. Last time we were here, the sign said the park closed at 6:45 p.m. This time, the closing time was listed as 7:45 p.m., so I suspect they adjust the closing time based on sunset / twilight time.
Facilities: There were NONE - no bathrooms, no drinking fountains, nor any other sort of facilities anywhere in the parking lot or along the trail. (Luckily, having two boys, we watered a couple of bushes along the way). For the nearest restrooms, drive south about a half mile. There are public restrooms at the beach just south of Makapuu Ridge.

Aside: Explanation about "Ball" mentioned above. There is one book that is commonly accepted on the island as THE common reference for hiking on Oahu. It is The Hiker's Guide to O'ahu by Stuart Ball. You will find in geocache listings and other hiking websites that people will refer to, "Ball Chapter X." That's refering to this book and what chapter covers that hike. You may click here for the book's listing on or click here for the Barnes and Noble listing.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Looks like you have alot of great terrain to traverse!

David said...

This is NOT the Makapuu Ridge hike. This is the Makapuu Lighthouse Hike. Makapuu Ridge Hike is across the street from the parking lot and the trail runs along the mountain side of the road eventually connecting to the TomTom trail. Just wanted to clarify.

David said...

By the way, this is NOT the Makapuu Ridge Hike. You're describing the Makapuu Lighthouse Hike. Makapuu Ridge is actaully the hills on the other side of the road across the street from the lighthouse parking lot. The ridge trail runs along the coast and eventually leads through Tom Tom trail and then Waimanalo.