6 Hidden Gems - Intimate Hikes on North Shore Oahu

Discover the island’s best-kept secrets and escape the crowds as we take you off the beaten path to some of the most breathtaking and less-known hiking trails Oahu has to offer on the North Shore. From secluded waterfalls to panoramic vistas, these hidden gems promise unforgettable adventures and a chance to connect with the island’s pristine landscapes in a whole new way. Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking a fresh challenge or a nature enthusiast looking to explore Oahu’s hidden treasures, our guide is your key to unlocking the island’s best-kept hiking secrets. Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery and uncover the magic of Oahu’s hidden gems. Lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on a journey to these unspoiled natural wonders.

hidden gems

There are many blogs online that discuss specifics to the hiking trails listed below, and so we won't go in much detail here but are happy to answer any questions about these trails as the Hale on Wheels family has explored them countless times.

Nākoa Trail

Length4.0 mi

Elevation gain751 ft

Route typeLoop

The trail takes about 2 hours to complete. It can be muddy and overgrown at times, but the trail is well-marked with pink tags and some signs to help you navigate. Downloading offline maps prior to arriving can also help you navigate as well, since you won’t have much service in Kahana area. Sturdy footwear and long pants are recommended. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including many species of birds and even wild boars. There are two river crossings, but they can be a great spot to cool off from the heat. One of rivers is a more popular swim hole for locals, and is normally where they’ll stop for awhile and then turn back.

Hau'ula Loop Trail

Length2.6 mi

Elevation gain905 ft

Route typeLoop

The trail is great for hiking or trail running and normally takes an average 1 hour 40 minutes hiking. This trail is has lots of shade and is a good one to do any time, any season. You must park at Hauula Beach Park at the trailhead your vehicle will get towed. Hiking the loop clockwise is easier and more gradual. Most of our guests enjoy doing this one if they have arrived before check in as it’s down the street from our location.

Ma'akua Ridge Trail

Length3.7 mi

Elevation gain1,020 ft

Route typeLoop

The start to this trail is directly across the start to Hauula Loop Trail. It takes an average of 2 hours to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. There are more ocean views on this trail compared to Hauula Loop Trail. Most of our guests enjoy doing this one if they have arrived before check in as it’s down the street from our location.

Laie Summit Trail

Length13.4 mi

Elevation gain3,444 ft

Route typeOut and Back

There are 2 sections to this hike. The first half (3.5 miles) takes you to Laie Falls. Depending on the time of year, there’s a nice big pool at the base of the fall you can hike to and swim in. Most people typically make it to the falls and then turn back (3-4 hours). Must park at Laie Park (you cannot park at the start of the trailhead). If you are up for the challenge to make it to the summit it takes an average of 7 hours and 30 minutes to complete. At the 6 mile mark (the summit) The trail joins the Ko’olau Summit trail just below the highest point. Scramble up the hill and on a clear day you will be rewarded with 360 degree open and clear views of the Wai’anae Range, the North Shore, and east.

Pupukea Paumalu Trail

Length8.7 mi

Elevation gain1,948 ft

Route typeLoop

Head out on this 8.7-mile loop trail behind the Foodland in Pupukea. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 4 h 33 min to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, but is also a huge forest and plenty of trails for more solitude. This is the Pupukea-Paumalu Forest Reserve and there are more than 15 miles of single track and jeep roads linking up from behind the Ehukai Elementary School all the way to Pupukea. There are many linking trails and a unique multi-junction area in the middle called Lilikoi Junction. There are many jumps and ramps to suit riders of all levels. Hikers can enjoy the forest walk or look forward to the cliff views overlooking Sharks Cove and the Three Tables. There are also many interesting bunkers and strange objects to explore. No need to do the whole loop, instead you can hop on a different trail and explore where you want. We recommend having a downloaded map of the trails to avoid getting lost out there.

Keālia Trail

Length7.8 mi

Elevation gain2,532 ft

Route typeOut and Back

Explore this 7.8-mile out-and-back trail near Waialua, Oahu. Generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 4 h 55 min to complete. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and mountain biking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. Once you reach the top of this hike, you can connect onto a ton more trails as this is the Mokuleia Forest Reserve. Tons of areas to explore.