Hiking the ‘Aiea Loop Trail

During my recent family-centered stay in Hawaii, I did manage to sneak in one hike. I didn’t set out to intentionally hike, but the opportunity presented itself.

The outing began with a planned out-and-back run up ‘Aiea Heights Drive, around the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area and back home. And ‘up’ it is, with just under 1,400 feet in elevation. It was planned to be just short of a 6-mile run.

I visited this park on an earlier trip when we took the grandchildren. It is a beautiful carry-in carry-out park with some overnight camping spaces and plenty of pavilions with ample room for kids to run and play. There are some drop-offs to be aware of and you will see the occasional wild pig coming out of the forested area.

At the top of the driving/walking loop of the park, I happened across a hiker about to set out on the ‘Aiea Loop Trail. She invited me to join her, assuring me that my running shoes could handle the terrain.

My hiking companions for the day, Suni and Happy. Far below in the background is H-3, a must-drive route if you love highways with incredible views.

So, off I went in a segue from my run to a 5-mile hike with my new hiking companion Suni and her dog Happy. It was great to hike the trail with someone who knew it well and willing to point out to me the different types of vegetation as well as some of the history of the trail.

Signs at the entrance to the trail warns hikers to avoid beginning hikes after 4 p.m. as most hikers complete the loop in 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I believe our hike was around 2 1/2 hours including time to take in the views and a few pictures.

The hike is rated easy to moderate and Suni was correct that my running shoes could handle the terrain, although there were muddy and rocky areas where I would have preferred to be in my hiking boots, or at least my trail shoes. We also found a branch along the way that served as my hiking stick.

The ‘Aiea Loop is a popular trail, although it was not crowded on this particular morning. We ran across a couple of individual trail runners, a few individual hikers and one hiking group. It appeared that most of them hiked and ran this trail on a regular basis.

The wonderful scents from the foliage around this loop are an added charm. In some sections, I could smell the lemon eucalyptus trees in the breeze. In other sections, the scent of pine trees made me feel like I was in a forest in the Northeast United States.

As we finished our loop, Suni and Happy returned to their car. I waved goodbye as I took time to knock mud off my shoes before beginning the 3-mile downhill run back home.

If you happen to be on the Island of Oahu and you happen to enjoy hiking, this trail is a good introduction. You can stop along the way to enjoy the views of Pearl Harbor and the Wai’anae Mountain Range along the west coast of the Island.

Do your runs sometime segue into an unexpected activity? Do you serendipitously take the bait when those opportunities arise?


  1. Hey Mary,

    thanks for a wonderful post….loved the photos and so good to see you are still running and hiking. I find it a challenge to get to the fitness center a few times a week….though i am keeping busy with yard work, mowing etc. and in this heat…that can be more than a easy thing to do.

    My best to Ray. Hope we’ll get to see you both soon.

    cliff & Kate

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