Ma'akua Ridge Trail / Papali Trail

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Phone (808) 973-9782
Address Maakau Rd, Hauula, HI 96717
Moderately difficult loop, ridge hike on Oahu's east side.

• General: Cost: Free • Hiking: Dogs Allowed • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Length: 2-3 Miles • Hiking: Level: Moderate
• Hiking: Loop Trail • Hiking: Major Elevation Changes • Hiking: Ridge Hike • Sightseeing: Great Views • Sightseeing: Wildlife

The Ma'akua Ridge Trail, or Papali Trail as it's also called, is a 2.5 mile loop trail on the windward (east) side of O'ahu. The trail is considered to be of moderate difficult.

That leads us into directions for the Papali Trail, which are quite easy actually. We mark the trailhead on our map / directions page as usual. From the Kamehameha Highway, across from Hau'ula Beach Park, turn mauka (towards the mountain) on Hauula Homestead Road. Keep driving straight and look for a legal place to park before Hauula Homestead Road curves to the left, where the same road going straight turns into Ma'akua Road.

Now for a word on safety! In addition to all of the general Hiking Safety & Essentials that you need to read, and the fact that you need to apply sunscreen to Protect Yourself From Sunburn & Skin Cancer, you'll also want to make sure you leave nothing in your car. This is a known high theft area so read up on Vehicle Theft In Hawaii so you're not a victim. That doesn't mean you shouldn't come here, it just means you need to not be overly touristy and leave stuff in your car that thieves might want. Even an empty bag could have a thief wondering what's inside.

Once legally parked, walk up Ma'akua Road to the end which will take you past the Hau'ula Loop Trail. Go beyond the hunter / hiker check in station, where you should check in and out. You'll pass by some large, graffiti filled retaining walls where you'll find the Ma'akua Ridge trailhead on your left.

The trailhead starts at just over 100 feet above sea level and the maximum you'll climb throughout the hike is to 800 feet in elevation, with a total elevation gain of around 750 feet.

You'll begin in a forest setting which opens up as you proceed. As the trail begins a few switchbacks you'll start working your way up the ridge. At the top there are some nice views of Hau'ula as well as the ocean and the trail gives you the option of going left or right. Since this is a loop, pick one way and you'll come out through the other way.

As you traverse your way around the ridge you'll drop down into gulches along the way which will also put you into public hunting areas. Always stay on the trail and wear bright clothing for safety. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be kept on leashes at all times and you must clean up after them.

While the Ma'akua Ridge Trail itself is 2.5 miles in total length, you can't park near the trailhead which means you're going to park a bit further away and walk to the trailhead. Expect another 0.5 to 0.75 miles of walking, each way, to get to and from your car which means a total of about 3.5+ miles.

Now for some history. The trail was originally built back in the 1930s as a way for tree planters, hunters, and fence builders to access the Ma'akua Gulch.