When you are at the Pali Lookout you can see the old road going down the mountain to the right. It’s a great place for walking/hiking with the family and has great views and nice breezes. We enjoy this spot for an easy afternoon hike and our favorite way to do it is from the bottom up. We did this again recently with our kids and one of our son’s friends.
For this hike we always park at the lookout at the Pali Highway’s hairpin turn on the Windward side. Once we’ve parked, we turn around and walk back to the entrance of the lookout and take the trail that begins at the gap between the guard rails.
This is the same place that the Maunawili Demonstration Trail begins. The difference is, turning right up these stairs at this junction leads to the Old Pali Road and the Pali Lookout.
The first part of the trail is uphill and is a dirt trail. The majority of it is in the shade and has a real tropical feel to it with lots of different plants and trees along the way. There are a few places where the edges of the trail are a little steep but all the kids did just fine hiking on their own.
Although the trail is an uphill climb overall, it’s gradual enough that a lot of the time I couldn’t convince my boy we were hiking uphill. There are some great views to be enjoyed along the way and lots of opportunities for kids to explore.
Our family saw a wild boar beside the trail and it stuck around just long enough for all the kids to get a peek and then ran away from us. Another highlight of the hike was a clump of hau trees that the kids enjoyed climbing.
Eventually the dirt trail leads to the paved end of the Old Pali Road. Our girl was excited to get there because we let her out of the backpack carrier and she got to hike on her own. She could have hiked the whole trail, and did hike all the way back to the car, but keeping her in the carrier helped us have a faster pace on the way up.
We hiked part way up the paved part of the Old Pali Road with the goal of making it all the way to the Pali Lookout. But after awhile the kids started complaining that they were tired and when a snack failed to revive them completely we turned around and headed back toward our car. We decided having them enjoy the journey was more important than making it to our destination and a fun afternoon was had by all, with more exploring and climbing on the return part of our hike.
Do it yourself on Oahu
Location: The hairpin turn on the Pali Highway is on the windward side about halfway between the tunnels and the stoplight at the junction with Kamehameha Hwy.
Directions: From the leeward side, go through the tunnels and look for a pullout on your right just as you begin the hairpin turn. To get there from the windward side you have to go past the hairpin, through the tunnels, exit at the Pali Lookout and get back on the Pali heading back toward Kailua.
Parking: The lot can fill up on weekends, but we’ve always managed to find a spot. Hope you do too! If not, park in the lot at the Pali Lookout and do this hike in the opposite direction.
Facilities: There are no restrooms at either end of the trail. Take your own water. You may want to take bug spray too.
Other: • For a stroller friendly version of this hike, start at the Pali Lookout and go down as far as you can with a stroller. You’ll get some great views along the way. • You can hike this one way if you park a car at the other end of the trail, or have faster members of your group do a round-trip hike and then pick up the rest of the group at the other end.
More info: This hike overlaps with both the Maunawili Demonstration Trail and the hike from the Ko’olau Golf Course to the Pali Lookout. Click on those trail names to read about those hikes.