Around 11pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon my wife and I met up with two good friends of ours, who we would be hiking with for the last time since they would be moving back to the mainland the following week. We met up close to our house and all jumped in the same car and headed for Friendship Gardens in Kaneohe, where the hike starts (driving directions are at the bottom of this write-up). Finding the trailhead was quite an adventure in and of itself. We knew that the trail started on Kokokahi street but we drove up and down the street continuously, unable to find the trailhead. It was very obscure but we did eventually find it. Once parked, we all walked to the trailhead and headed uphill on some rock stairs. Shortly after, the trail split, and we took the left fork. After this we hit a few switchbacks and just continued heading upwards and towards the ridge line. Once on the ridge we headed away from the ocean and continued with the somewhat steep climbing.
Not long after heading up the ridge a few cell phone transmission stations came in to view directly to our right. After these was an open grassy area where great views of the Koolau mountains from Konahuanui to Haiku valley came in to view. We sat and marveled at the spectacular angle that we had of the ever so daunting Kalihi Saddle. After taking a short break we continued on the now easy to follow trail, up one hill after another. After treking for a little longer, we came to a few steep sections with ropes in place to help us down. This was the only even remotely dangerous part of the hike, but would be manageable for even most novice hikers, i'm sure. Next thing we knew, we had arrived at a lookout above the Kapaa Quarry. We now had views into a man made lake below us and I really enjoyed looking down on this sight. It was just different than anything i've ever really seen here on Oahu. Some people say it looks nasty and dirty, but I found it very appealing to the eye and photogenic in some ways.
After taking some pictures we found what appeared to be a junction and started heading steeply downwards and back towards the neighborhood. I have no idea where we went, but it was definetly a trail of some sort, but was rather hard to manage and was obviously not the trail down that most people use. I would not suggest that anyone take this junction down if they do see it. The correct thing to do, from what i've been told, is after leaving the quarry overlook, to just keep heading straight and up you will eventually head up one last hill and come to a fairly obvious junction on the right that will head down hill and to Lipulu street, where the hike ends. Also, shortly before the trail ends another junction will come in to view. Taking this junction for a few minutes will take you to Kawa'ewa'e Heiau. Once to Lipalu street, it is possible to walk back to where your car is (which is what we did) but it will take quite some time. The easiest thing is to have another car stationed at this end to shuttle you back to Friendship Gardens.
Directions: Coming from near the airport take H1 West and then take the H3 heading east towards Kaneohe. Next take Exit 9 N/Likelike Hwy. It will end up turning slightly right and becoming Kaneohe Bay Drive. A little more than a mile later, turn right on to Kokokahi Place. The trailhead starts at Friendship Gardens about a half mile up this road (it's a tiny open area where the gardens begin with some steps) on the left side near the house address 45-219 Kokokahi Place. Park anywhere along the street, but parking can be hard to find. To get to Lipulu street to park a second car, take the same route as above and once on H3 East, take exit 11 and get on to Kamehameha Hwy. Turn left on to HI-83 North. Turn right on to Mokulele Drive and then take another right onto Namoku street. Then take the second right on to Lipalu street and park somewhere in the neighborhood. The trailhead ends where the road dead ends. To get back to your car on Kokokahi street once leaving Lipalu street, take your first right onto Namoku street. When you reach Kaneohe Bay Drive take a right and then take another right onto Kokokahi three streets later to reach the original trailhead start and your car.
Great view of the "Kalihi Saddle"