Puʻu Pia: A quick and easy hike tucked in the back of Mānoa

img_3998Puʻu Pia is a short hike tucked in the back of Mānoa Valley. This trail is one of many trails that make up the Honolulu Mauka System (Iʻll write a post later about how important it is to have a plan when you decide to hike any of those trails here based on an unexpected adventure of mine). I randomly decided to try this hike out with Kahi and it turned out to be an awesome adventure.

Before I go into the details of the hike, let me start off by saying that I am by no means an expert at hiking these trail systems. I am a novice and am learning to enjoy the natural beauty of Hawaii just for fun. With that said, I would never advocate going out alone. I went on this hike with just my dog, but I also texted three other people my location and thanks to technology, I was also able to share my location with them so someone knew where I was at all times (yay apple – learn how to enable location sharing here). I also spent quite some time reading other blogs as well as dedicated trail sites to learn about Puʻu Pia before I went on it. Basically: be smart about hiking – things can go really bad, really fast.

Okay, back to the fun stuff. Kahi and I found an awesome parking spot in the residential area. We were really quiet as we got our things together because we didnʻt want to disturb any of the residents. We armed ourselves with bug spray and some sun block and soon we were on our way.

The trailhead is located at the end of a paved path between a bunch of houses. It shares the same start as the Kolowalu trail which from my research tells me is also the start to Waʻahila Ridge and Mount Olympus.

As Kahi and I made our way to the top, we came across a lot of Instagrammable spots where we stopped to take some pictures for Kahiʻs Instagram followers (shameless plug: follow her @kahithepitbull). We passed a bridge that’s made out of a fallen log that goes over a dried up stream (Iʻm sure when it rains, water fills the stream), a ton of trees with exposed roots (honestly, that’s most of this trail), and some fungi. Needless to say, even though this hike is a little over 1.5 miles long, you might want to add an additional 45 minutes of time if you know you like to take pictures (or 60+ minutes if you have a photogenic pitbull).

Youʻll know youʻre nearing the top not just because of the change in elevation, but because youʻll see a clearing and change of scenery. Basically, you just keep following the trail until it opens up into this:


I was surprised as to how well the top of Puʻu Pia is was maintained. I imagine that the next time I go on this hike, Iʻll be stopping for a picnic here. Needless to say, this is the part of the hike where you take a ton of pictures and take a much-needed water break.

As you continue down the path, youʻll find the official end of this trail. It was a bit anti-climactic after soaking in the amazing view of Mānoa valley at the beginning of the clearing, but after all, it is the end. Kahiʻs expressing says it all:


“Really? We walked here for this bench, mom?” Yes, Kahi. The bench. People hike up here to sit on this bench.

All joking aside, this hike is well worth the trek (not that it was really a trek – it was not difficult by any means). Puʻu Pia is perfect for anyone looking to get a quick hike into a busy schedule, or even for someone that wants to take a quick break from the craziness that is Honolulu. As I said earlier, Iʻm not an expert hiker, but I imagine that almost anyone could do this trail as long as theyʻre prepared.

Trail Tidbits

Length: 1.6 Miles

Total Time: ~60 minutes round trip

Suitability: Kids, Dogs on Leashes


• Wear shoes appropriate for mud

• Wear bug spray


Head to the back of Manoa via East Manoa Road. Take a left on Alani Drive and go to the end of the street to where it intersects with Woodlawn Drive. Park on Alani Drive on the right side of the road facing down. Be mindful as this is a residential area. Follow the signs on the road until you reach the marked trailhead.


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