Saturday, March 31, 2012

Laie 18 (Laie Falls)

This past Friday my wife and I found our schedules finally coinciding with each others.  We were so happy to have a whole day to hike by ourselves.  We had planned on hiking the Moanalua Saddle but we ended up sleeping in and somehow found ourselves heading to the North shore to hike some time, beginning after noon.  Wailele Falls was initially on our mind but we abruptly changed our plans and ended up settling on hiking to Laie Falls and trying to hike to the 18 or so waterfalls beneath the popular "Laie Falls" destination.  I had been here before and knew that starting at 2pm was a horrible idea but for some reason we went ahead with our plan.  The last time I hiked this trail it took us an obscene amount of time (8-10 hours) but we knew we would be moving a little faster on this day and so we decided to give it a go, with our headlamps on standby in our bags, just in case we didn't make it out before dark, we parked in our usual spot and started off on our journey for this afternoon.

We parked just before the main gate on the gravel road to the left.  The main gate is locked every night, so parking beyond this point is obviously not a good idea if you want to drive your car home that night.  My wife and I grabbed about a hundred feet of rope and took off down the gravel road, attempting to set the fastest pace possible without exerting to much energy in the early going.  Just a few minutes down the road and we reached a sign and a gate marking the Laie Falls trail.  We took a left and were now officially on our way up the trail.  There's really no need for trailhead directions on this trail.  Just stick to the most obvious trail that almost continuously heads straight up the ridge line.  As we continued further and further, we started to feel the exertion that was only inevitable.  I kept telling my wife, "we're almost there, only a few more minutes", knowing it wasn't quite as close as I was making it seem.  However, within just a little over hour, we reached the wooden sign that says "Laie Falls" and points left.  I'm not sure how, but years ago, on my first time here, I missed this junction.  There was no sign back then, and I am appreciative there's one now, all though the junction is pretty obvious if you are looking for it.  We took the right hand turn and headed down the somewhat steep and muddy trail with the aid of some ropes (which aren't needed at all) and within just a few minutes reached the beautiful Laie Falls.

We could not have picked a better day.  The flow was just perfect.  Not to much water gushing but just enough to look good and guarantee that the lower falls were flowing as well.  The water was a greenish clear color, making it look very clear and clean, which always makes me feel better about jumping into the water.  I hiked up to the top of the falls for a few pictures and then made my way back down to the base of the falls to sit with my wife for awhile and revel in the moment.  Without to much of a delay, we packed our dry bag and headed down the side trail to the next waterfall.  I'm not gonna give to much details on this part because if you go, it will be pretty obvious what you need to do.  There is a lot of climbing and you more or less just follow the stream down and climb down the waterfalls or the side of them or contour to the bottom of the falls when possible (which is only about once if I remember correctly).  There are ropes in place in a few spots, but having at least a hundred feet of some good lightweight chord or rope, will greatly improve your experience on this trail.  Having read a lot of stuff on this trail, my wife quickly commented on how easy she thought it was and wondered why other people had ranked it as an advanced hike.  I completely agree with her, but in saying that, one does need to be careful here.  If you are even slightly experienced with the trails here on Oahu, you should have no problem though.

We continued down one waterfall after the next and laughed and enjoyed experience more and more the further we went.  We reached the spiral staircase waterfall, where I installed a rope and we climbed down.  We hung out at the bottom for a bit and then decided to turn around since it was gonna be getting dark soon.  I was a little bummed out but I knew that I wanted to keep going and so did my wife.  She really didn't want to hike out in the dark on this day and she could sense my eagerness to keep going, so she definetly made the right call by having us turn around and hike out when we did.  We climbed back up all the waterfalls we had just come down and then ran back down the Laie Falls trail, making it to our car just as the sun was setting.  Perfect timing.  As we drove home we stopped on the North Shore for a beautiful sunset and a great capping off of the day.  Just when I started thinking that the best part of the day was over, I realized we were yet to get our slurpees.  In spite of being wet and cold, and being the slurpee aficianados that we are, there was no way that we weren't making a pit stop at 7-eleven.  With a slurpee in hand and a great day of hiking behind us, we set off for home, reminiscing on a day of hiking that was never meant to happen, but yet, was so meant to be.


  1. Hi there,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Laie to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, drop me a line at Jane (at) Dwellable (.com)
    Hope to hear from you :)

  2. Love the write up and photos! We'd love to have your review (and pics!) on the hike here if possible: