Waimalu Ditch Trail Hike / Mccandless

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Address Kaonohi Street, Aiea, HI 96701
Four to six mile trail above Pearlridge that follows irrigation tunnels.

Features
• General: Cost: Free • Hiking: Hiking
• Hiking: Length: 5-8 Miles • Hiking: Level: Difficult
• Hiking: Loop Trail • Hiking: Major Elevation Changes

Matt Anderson's Take
Waimalu Ditch Trail Hike, or the McCandless Hike as it's also called, is a 6.4 mile loop trail with elevation gains of around 1,000 feet. Most who try this hike do a shorter, easier out and back version to see the tunnels. The full loop trail is considered to be a difficult hike by most and can be quite dangerous at times. In fact, in 2008 an Australian hiker by the name of John Parsons hiked this trailed and was never seen again. In 2015 Moke Pua (a local hiker) also hiked this trail and was never heard from again.


If you're still planning to attempt the full loop trail then be sure to read up on Hiking Safety & Essentials, bring plenty of water and snacks, and make sure you're prepared in case of an emergency. Never hike alone and if you plan to explore the tunnels (which we don't suggest) you'll want a flashlight. Since this area follows a stream you'll need remember that a Flash Flood can occur even if it isn't raining. There are also dangers of Leptospirosis if you plan to swim in any of the pools here, something we do not advise.


The trailhead is easy to find and isn't far from Pearlridge Center. From the H1 freeway get off at Exit 10 and head east on Moanalua Road. Turn mauka (mountain, left if you're heading east) on Kaonohi Street and follow that up the mountain. Right before it turns and loops back down the mountain you'll turn right onto Onikiniki Place. Find a legal place to park along here and you'll find the trailhead on your left before the gates to the private community. Look for the John Parsons sign on a tree (see photo above) and we've marked the trailhead on our directions page too.


When the trail splits in the beginning stay to your left and watch out for dog poo. The early trail is often full of it so if you bring a dog clean up after it! At the second split, stay to your left. The right path will be the return trail for those who do the full loop.


One of the novelties along this trail is the actual irrigation ditches / tunnels that gives this trail its name. These tunnels and ditches used to funnel water to the sugarcane fields in Pearlridge in the early 1900s. The first tunnel you will find is what most come to see and is quite old so not a good idea to explore it. It's longer than you'd think and the end is plugged up though sometimes people can squeeze out. You're better of not exploring the tunnel and sticking to the path only. After seeing the tunnels most people turn back and head home.


Expect a couple of hours to do the shorter, easier out and back hike to the tunnels. The full loop can easily take four hours, maybe more depending on your skill level.
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