My uncle led a hike up the Nuuanu Trail into the Koolau Range above Honolulu, with a 1200′ elevation gain. He’s run this trail with friends for years.
From downtown Honolulu, drive up the Pali Highway past Punchbowl, turn right on Nuuanu Pali Drive, and drive about a mile to the small brown trail sign on the right.
This is an upscale neighborhood. The photo below shows a backyard pond that takes advantage of Nuuanu Stream, which drains the Nuuanu Valley. Up the valley toward the Pali, rain obscures the mountains. George Clooney’s house in “The Descendants” is nearby. We saw the corner where Clooney ran to his friend’s house to ask about his wife’s affair.
From the trailhead, start up the Judd Trail, cross the Nuuanu Stream, and enter the grove of Norfolk Island pines. The trees grow a new ring of branches each year, an easy way to tell the age of a tree.
At the trail junction, take the Nuuanu Trail, which gets progressively steeper. From the top of the ridge, there are views of Honolulu and a tree to climb.
Ferns and moss grow from lava next to the trail.
On the way back we crossed Nuuanu Stream again, hopping from rock to rock. The Stream looks quiet now, but over the millennia it has carved a deep valley into the lava of the Koolau Range.
We saw only one other hiker during the 3-hour hike, and there were no mosquitos. A very nice hike to get grounded with nature, with views and interesting terrain, a few miles from downtown Honolulu.