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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 20, 2002

Waimano Tunnel provides half-day of fun for family

By Richard McMahon
Special to The Advertiser

A spotlight of a camp site, trail or other hiking information, courtesy of author Richard McMahon

• Location: The trail begins above Pearl City at the end of Waimano Home Road. Park in the wide area on the left side of the road just before the guard shack at the entrance to the Waimano Training School and Hospital.

• Description: This five-mile round trip follows the beginning of the Waimano Ridge Trail for about two miles, turns off to explore two former water tunnels, and returns via the same route. It is a half-day fun trip for a family, and the kids will get a special kick out of the tunnels. A flashlight is required.

From the parking area, walk mauka, bear left around the outside of the chain link fence, and follow the path along the fenceline. Shortly, a sign indicates the Waimano Valley Trail, turning left and downhill. Continue straight ahead on the Waimano Ridge Trail, which soon parallels an abandoned water ditch on the right. Another junction with the Valley Trail appears on the left, as the Ridge Trail continues straight ahead, contouring above the valley floor.

There are two points along the way where care is required, as the trail negotiates narrow, rocky places, which can be slippery when wet.

About two miles from the start, a brown sign with a yellow arrow points left, indicating a stream crossing. Once across, watch for a tunnel, which appears quickly on the left. Turn off the trail and enter the tunnel, where light from its exit is faintly visible in the distance.

Except for a few damp spots, the tunnel is usually dry. It averages about 5.5 feet high, but there are low spots. A hard hat (bicycle, baseball) is not a bad idea, especially for tall people.

Exiting the tunnel, the trail bears right, following along an overgrown water ditch, and then enters the second tunnel.

This tunnel is curved, so no distant light beckons, but it seems slightly shorter than the first one.

Upon leaving the tunnel, turn left, and the route returns to the main Waimano Ridge Trail near a covered picnic shelter. A short downhill switchback soon returns to the entrance to the first tunnel and the stream crossing.

Continue the return along the same route.

• Special comments: For variety and a slightly longer hike, take the Waimano Valley Trail on the way back.

I owe my knowledge of these tunnels to author Stuart Ball Jr. (The Hikers Guide to O'ahu, UH Press).