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Eaglecadd
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Location: Kailua Kona, HI
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PostSun Apr 07, 2019 12:32 pm 
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One of the most popular hikes on the Big Island is the route from Waipio Valley over to Waimanu Valley. The beginning of the route begins with a decision. Do I have or want to rent a 4x4 vehicle...not an AWD vehicle. If you don't have a 4x4, you cannot drive down into Waipio Valley. Don't even think about cheating, you will be sorry!
So, if you don't have a 4x4, you must park at the top of the road and walk down the very steep road and out to the river. This road is hard to walk down and extremely hard to walk up.
If you have a 4x4, drive down and turn right out to the beach and out to the river. Hopefully the river is low and not RAGING as it does whenever there is a downpour. I have been there trying to get back across the river when I was too terrified to cross for fear of being swept out into the ocean.
If conditions are right, wade across the river. It may be about waist deep so walking sticks are helpful.
Once across,walk along the jeep track through a beautiful forest just above the beach until you come to the far side of the valley. Enjoy this part of the trail as the next part is really tough. It is called the "Z" Trail. It is very steep and rugged. You will test your metal here.
The high humidity in the area, the steepness of the trail and sun exposure in places will make you sweat hard. Do carry lots of water. As you climb, you will be able to get glimpses of the valley, waterfalls, beach and the steep road back up the far side of the valley. Even if this is as far as you hike, it is worth the effort.
Once you get near the top of the hill, you will enter the Ironwood Forest. These beautiful trees look like pines, but are not. It is a symbol of you almost reaching the top of the hill and you will be happy to see them, trust me!
Just at the top of the hill is a place where you can rest and rehydrate from the strenuous Z Trail. The forest changes here and you will be impressed with the majesty and size of these huge trees. Be inspired as the next part of the trail unfolds before you.
After about another half hour walking, you will come to a place where the trail crosses a stream at a waterfall. I suggest you takeoff your pack and jump in!!It is a deep pool and cool water. Let the waterfall splash down on you and refresh you. The rest of the trail is tough and the cooling off and walking with wet clothes will help you keep cool.
There is a debate about how many valleys and ridges you will cross on the way to Waimanu. It may be 10-12. Some are steep and hard others easy, but all of them are beautiful and many have streams in them to refill your water bottles, but do filter the water.
You will likely see pig tracks or scuffed up trails where the pigs root for food. Don't worry, they don't want to be near humans as they get heavily hunted by locals.
After MANY ups and downs, you will finally come to the cliff that leads down to Waimanu Valley. Take note, the long narrow leaves on the ground are slippery and the edges have sharp hooks on them. They also cover loose rounded rocks that may roll out from underfoot as you walk down the hill. Also, there is a stairway and bridge over a washout. It gets really slippery when wet so caution is advised.
As you descend, look upstream for some amazing views of the waterfalls in the valley. I have been told, the big waterfall is the tallest of its kind in the world. It is really a spectacular falls and you can make a day trip up to its base. It is well worth the time, but isn't easy as the route covers lots of rounded rocks that can hurt your feet or ankles. If you make it, you will be rewarded with a spectacular falls and huge pool at its base. The thunder of water spilling so far down the almost vertical cliff is amazing. You can get into this pool to refresh or maybe just climb up the grassy, but rocky slope adjacent to it for a nice lunch.
The state run campsites along the beach are nice but the composting toilets often get overfull. Please do use them though so as to protect the wetlands from human pollution.
One thing to keep in mind isthe weather. If you are at Waimanu and a heavy rain comes in, it can make crossing both Waimanu and Waipio rivers difficult.
From the campsites, you can see a series of waterfalls at the far back of the valley in a semi-circle. It is possible but EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to reach them. It took us a full day, over 10 hours to reach them and we needed a day of rest afterward at camp before we felt able to make the hike back out to the trailhead.
I think some of the pics posted will give you a sense of the beauty there, but can never compete with the journey.
https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipP_JY_l4MdIAxELBHwFaf0R9fWEBmyOjblImioN

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Hike until you Drop!
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reststep
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PostSun Apr 07, 2019 3:56 pm 
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Thanks for the report.

I can't get the link to the pictures to work.

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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Eaglecadd
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Joined: 05 Feb 2010
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Location: Kailua Kona, HI
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PostSun Apr 07, 2019 5:52 pm 
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Sorry, It works for me. Maybe try copy & paste into your browser. Please let me know if that doesn't work and I'll try to repost another way...but I am no Geek so all I can do is my best.

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Eaglecadd
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Location: Kailua Kona, HI
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PostSun Apr 07, 2019 6:21 pm 
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I hopethat the pics will be viewable now.


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neek
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PostSun Apr 07, 2019 8:32 pm 
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Got trapped by a flash flood there once and had to spend the night in town with some hippies. Good times. Almost got swept out to sea after just a few steps into the river--not something to mess with. Unfortunately didn't make it to the falls. They look spectacular!
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timberghost
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PostTue Apr 09, 2019 5:57 am 
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Been there done that several times. The hill up or down wasn't that bad to hike, its harder at times getting across the Taro fields outlet. Went across with it over my waist and other times its ankle deep.
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