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Overview: The popular Manoa Falls Trail follows Waihi Stream through a lush rainforest and bamboo thickets to a one hundred foot waterfall in the mountains above Honolulu. Although Manoa Falls is perennial, its flow varies with local rainfall, and it may only be a trickle during the dry season. Bring rain gear, and expect to get muddy!
Hike: From the parking lot at Treetops Restaurant, walk up Manoa Road to the signed start of the trail, located where the road switchbacks to the left to enter Lyon Arboretum. Passing through a gate at the trailhead, the trail leaves civilization behind, following an old road into a tropical rainforest. A little ways in, the trail crosses Aihualama Stream in a small open area, where one gets a rare view of the surrounding ridges.
Continuing north, the trail climbs into a forest of enormous ferns and massive broadleaf trees, and crosses over to the Waihi Stream drainage. For the rest of its length, the Manoa Falls Trail follows the lush course of Waihi Stream along a series of stairs and muddy pathways, where bamboo thickets, dense trees, and even familiar pothos houseplants do an excellent job of choking out the sunshine.
After one mile of hiking, the Manoa Falls Trail arrives at the bottom of Manoa Falls, in a narrow, steep walled canyon, where it meets the Aihualama Trail. The falls emerge from the dense tree canopy above, sliding down a sheer wall of dark volcanic rock into the boulder filled course of Waihi Stream, next to the trail. Apparently, a landslide occurred next to the falls in 2002, and Hawaiian authorities are paranoid of a future occurrence here, hence the warning signs and ropes near the falls forbidding hikers from leaving the trail.
One can continue hiking on the Aihualama Trail, or return the way they came.
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Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.