Distance: 3.9 miles - Elevation Gain: 1007 ft.
The Maunawilli Falls trailhead is located in the back of the Maunawilli Valley neighborhood. This small waterfall and swimming hole is a local favorite for both residents and visitors alike and is a great place to cool off on a hot Hawaii day. The trail is rated easy-moderate, but you will want to wear boots or shoes with grip. The trail is very muddy and you will have to cross the stream multiple times. You can expect your clothes to get muddy as well, but that is part of the fun.
Important Note: Limited street parking is available, please respect the neighborhood when entering and exiting the trail. Please do not, loiter around cars, play loud music, or yell in the streets. A few years ago the neighborhood petitioned the state to remove Maunawilli Falls Trail from the sanctioned list of state hiking trails because of the litter and graffiti that was being left behind by hikers. Help protect this place by packing out all of your trash, and pick up any litter you find along the way.
Once you have crossed the first stream, you will begin the steep uphill climb. Thankfully, stairs have been placed in the hillside to help with the climb. Once your at the top of the hill, your greeted with up close views of the Ko'olau Mountain Range.
Then it is back down the other side of the hill using another set of stairs. Once at the bottom, your back in the Maunawilli Stream. Here, the trail starts on the left side of the stream and proceeds to cross the stream multiple times. Many hikers choose to simply walk up the middle of the stream, rock hopping as they go.
The reason why hikers choose this trail over the nearby Manoa Trail is because the ability to swim underneath the falls in the large deep pool. Another fun thing to do is to swim across the pool, and relax next to the waterfall. When your ready, jump off the rocks near the falls into the deep pool below. On most days you’ll see local kids doing backflips, cartwheels, and other acrobatics into the pools while a crowd of tourists watch.
This trail, while challenging at moments, is a good option for active families with children who can walk on their own. Whenever I visit the Maunawilli waterfall there are usually 2 or 3 families with children ages 6+ having a great time swimming in the stream pool below the falls.