Hikers on Hawaii Vacations: Put This Popular Trail on Your Agenda

I’ve heard people talk about the Judd (Memorial) trail for almost as long as I’ve been in Hawaii, but for some reason I never did it, despite it’s perfect location just between Honolulu and the Windward side of Oahu. It wasn’t until I heard about how extra beautiful the forests were along the trail that my determination to take this hike took a step up. I’d seen some pictures from the area and that piqued my interest too. And I wanted to take my own photographs. Turns out I went along with some friends for a hike and didn’t ask where we were going, and it was the Judd Trail! So that was a nice surprise. Since then I’ve been back a second time, but not for the entire hike.

upper – trail head is exactly one mile off the Pali hwy. – look for the bridge & a few signs lower: tunnel of the Old Pali Road – stream that must be crossed

When you Google the hike you get a map of the area, and a map of the actual trail – which I suggest you print , as it might come in handy, as it did on my hike. It is part of the Honolulu Mauka Trail System, the most maintained trail system in the state, so it is well documented in the literature and you’ll most likely not be alone on it, as it’s so popular. It follows the Lulumahu stream as it flows down the hillside And an added bonus is that it’ll bring you to one of my favorite roads on the island, the old Nu’uanu – Pali Drive, a preserved part of the old original path that went from downtown Honolulu up and over the Ko’olau ridge to the Windward side. Seeing this beautiful old road is worth driving up the Pali road (rt. 61), even if you don’t do the hike. Coming off the very busy and urban part of Nu’uano, you’d never expect to see this extremely shaded, overgrown, moody, curvy, almost scary, rainforest road. The trees reach over the road and touch each other, making a green tunnel which you drive through. It’s actually fun to do at night too, if you let your imagination run with you. First time I did it this way, I felt the hair on the back my neck stand up! I take all my guests visiting Hawaii to do this.

Judd Trail map.

Back to Judd Trail. If you do the short loop it probably takes well over an hour. Take a hiking stick to help you cross over the stream – and there is no way around the stream, it must be crossed. I take my shoes off and wade rather than hop rocks. This is not a steep hike and it takes you through a fascinating bamboo forest. If the wind is blowing, stop and listen to the music the bamboo makes when it’s moving. As you go a little higher the trees change. Further up the path is a magnificent grove of Cook pines. These introduced but naturalized trees tower up 100 + feet over the path, making a fascinating canopy.

At this point I’m actually content with turning around and going back, as I’m happy as a clam to just see this much forest. But if you finish up the loop, you’ll see lots of water, rocks and forest (but no vista) and will feel as though you’ve been touched by prehistoric Hawaii – all this just a few miles out side of the big city. So drive and look, drive and hike, but do it.

look up in the forest – the trail is marked

3 COMMENTS

  1. Katherine, I can hear the "Love of Hawaii" in your post.  Beautiful words to depict a tropical paradise and pictures that add the exclamation point!! (superb photography) To sum it up… "I would love to hike the Judd Trail", it's like a secret hidden treasure. Thanks for sharing. Diane.

  2. Yes thank you Katherine for a wonderful post and fabulous pictures! I've never been hiking anywhere on Oahu actually and to be honest I didn't know the Judd Trail existed. 🙂  This is great for people who do want to come to Oahu but also need to get away from the big city for a bit.

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