We did the Hauʻula Uka Loop in the mountains overlooking Hauʻula, Laʻie Point and the Koʻolauloa Coast of windward Oʻahu.
There are 2 loop trails on Hauʻula Uka Ridge: the Hauʻula Loop — a 2.5 mile loop State Trail, and the Hauʻula Uka Loop — a longer 7 mile loop that used to be on the HTMC hike schedule but no longer is.
Justin Ohara and I pushed off from Hauʻula Homestead Road and made our way past the Hunter/Hiker Check-in Station Mailbox and turned onto the first obvious trail to the right. Both loops start at the same place but the longer loop veers mauka on the ridge line while the shorter loop turns makai.
The State Trail is nicely maintained by Na Ala Hele. Some of the trees were bent over the trail and were fun to go over. After gradually gaining several hundred feet elevation we got to the ridge line. We briefly descended into the gully before us and climbed to the next ridge over. When we got to the top, we veered-off the State Loop by turning left to continue up the ridge line.
We past some curious looking trees with multiple thick trunks that branched low to the ground. We made our way up a series of small hills dominated by introduced vegetation that became more native and thicker the higher we got.
One of the cool things we saw were mounds of white lichen that were soft and spongy to the touch covering the ground.
Since the trail is no longer cleared by HTMC, only a swath exists and we had to push our way through the uluhe. We enjoyed seeing many forms of ʻōhiʻa, some of them in bloom with red flowers, as we made our way up the ridge line.
When I turned the fronds of ʻuluhe over, I noticed that some were sporulating. It was cool to look close up at at the white dots on the backside.
Each dot was actually a cluster of small balls — sori — the spore producing structures.
Wawaeʻiʻole or club moss (Lycopodiella cernua) dotted the landscape which was dominated by ʻuluhe.
ʻUluhe impeded our progress as we marched up the ridge with red lehua blossoms above. The adjacent ridge connected to the ridge we were on further mauka which we would take as part of our loop.
We saw a number of kawaʻu trees (Ilex anomanlum) growing next to ʻōhiʻa trees.
Some of the kawaʻu were in bloom with small white flowers.
We were pleased that some of the ʻōhiʻa trees were in bloom with red flowers.
We could see the adjacent ridges coming together as we climbed from one hill to the next. We saw the imbricata form of ʻōhiʻa whose leaves are stacked along the entire length of the branch.
When we reached where the two ridge connect we rested to admire the view and eat lunch. We could see Laʻie Point and the five offshore islands along the coast. What a fantastic sight!
We saw a number of hoʻawa (Pittosporum) whose fruits resembled walnuts, on the return leg of our loop.
The return leg of the loop was overgrown too but a swath still existed and we pushed through the ʻuluhe until we entered introduced forests of iron wood trees, strawberry guava, and other invasive trees. The trail is a nice loop but needs to be cleared — one big trail clearing effort should do the trick.
Native Hawaiian Plants, University of Hawaii, Department of Botany
Plants of Hawaii, Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk