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Nuuanu Trail To Pali Lookout Hike On Oahu, Hawaii


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Constanta Madden



Hawaii, known for its stunning landscapes and breathtaking scenery, offers outdoor enthusiasts a plethora of hiking trails to explore. One such trail that stands out is the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike on the island of Oahu. This trail not only showcases the natural beauty of Hawaii but also provides a glimpse into its rich history.


The Nuuanu Trail is a historical and cultural gem, offering hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the captivating surroundings while learning about the island’s past. The trail takes you through lush forests, along rocky ridges, and ultimately offers sweeping panoramic views from the Pali Lookout, making it an experience worth embarking on.


This scenic hike is suitable for hikers of various skill levels, although it is important to come prepared with the appropriate gear and physical fitness. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, the Nuuanu Trail has something to offer everyone.


As you venture along the trail, you will be surrounded by a diverse ecosystem, with endemic plants and wildlife that add to the allure of the hike. From beautiful wildflowers to native bird species, nature enthusiasts will find plenty to appreciate on this journey.


However, it’s crucial to remember that hiking can come with risks. Safety precautions must be taken, such as checking the weather forecast, informing someone about your plans, and being mindful of trail conditions.


In this article, we will delve into the details of the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike, providing you with all the necessary information to make the most of your adventure. From trail difficulty and location to scenic views and safety tips, let’s embark on this exhilarating outdoor experience in the heart of Oahu, Hawaii.


Trail Overview

The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is a captivating trek that spans approximately 5 miles round trip. The trail is located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii and is known for its historical significance and remarkable natural beauty.


This trail is considered moderate in difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of various skill levels. While it does involve some steep sections and uneven terrain, the trail is well-maintained, providing a relatively smooth hiking experience for most adventurers.


One of the highlights of this hike is the opportunity to explore the Pali Lookout at the end of the trail. The Pali Lookout offers breathtaking panoramic views of Oahu’s Windward Coastline, as well as the neighboring islands of Maui and Molokai on clear days. It is a perfect spot to pause, take in the scenery, and capture some memorable photographs to remember your hike.


Throughout the trail, hikers will also encounter a variety of vegetation, ranging from towering bamboo forests to dense thickets of ferns and tropical plants. These lush surroundings create a tranquil ambiance as you hike through the Nuuanu Valley.


One of the unique aspects of the Nuuanu Trail is its historical significance. This trail follows the path that ancient Hawaiian warriors once used to travel between the leeward and windward sides of the island. It is a chance to connect with the island’s rich cultural heritage and discover the stories of those who walked this trail centuries ago.


Overall, the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, historical significance, and moderate difficulty. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a rewarding outdoor adventure, this trail is sure to captivate your senses and leave you with lasting memories of your time in Hawaii.


Difficulty Level

The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is considered moderate in difficulty, suitable for hikers with a variety of skill levels. While the trail does have some challenging sections, it can be enjoyed by both experienced hikers and those new to the activity.


The trail consists of a mix of terrain, including dirt paths, rocky sections, and some steep inclines. Hikers should be prepared for elevation gain and the possibility of slippery sections, especially during or after rain. Proper footwear with good traction is recommended to navigate the uneven surfaces safely.


Being a round trip hike of approximately 5 miles, it is important to gauge your physical fitness level and be prepared for a few hours of continuous walking. Hikers should be comfortable with walking uphill for extended periods and have the endurance to complete the trail.


It’s always advisable to take breaks and pace yourself to avoid overexertion, particularly on hot and humid days. Remember to stay hydrated and bring plenty of water to replenish fluids during the hike.


While the Nuuanu Trail is generally well-marked, there may be sections where the trail becomes less defined. This can make navigation slightly challenging, especially for first-time hikers. It’s recommended to bring a map or use a reliable GPS device to stay on track. Additionally, hiking with a group or experienced hikers can provide added assistance and support if needed.


Overall, the Nuuanu Trail offers a moderate level of difficulty, and as long as hikers come adequately prepared, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Take into account your physical abilities, weather conditions, and be aware of your surroundings. By doing so, you can make the most of this memorable hike on Oahu’s Nuuanu Trail.


Trailhead Location

The trailhead for the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is located in the Nuuanu-Pali State Park, which is situated on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The state park can be accessed via the Pali Highway, just a short drive from downtown Honolulu.


When driving along the Pali Highway, keep an eye out for the signs indicating the entrance to the state park. There is ample parking available at the trailhead, but it is advisable to arrive early, especially on weekends or during peak tourist seasons, as parking can fill up quickly.


If you prefer to use public transportation, there are also bus routes that service the area. Check the local bus schedule for the most convenient option to reach the trailhead.


As you approach the trailhead, you will notice a clear marker indicating the start of the Nuuanu Trail. There is a designated parking area where you can safely leave your vehicle before embarking on the hike.


It is worth noting that the trailhead is easily accessible and well-known among locals, which can result in crowds during popular times. If you prefer a quieter hiking experience, consider visiting during weekdays or arriving earlier in the day.


Before starting the hike, take a moment to familiarize yourself with any posted signage or important information regarding trail conditions or closures. It is crucial to respect any regulations or guidelines set by park officials to ensure the safety of both hikers and the surrounding environment.


Overall, the trailhead for the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is conveniently located and easily accessible, offering hikers a convenient starting point to embark on their adventure in this stunning area of Oahu, Hawaii.


Trail Description

The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike takes you on a scenic journey through the lush Nuuanu Valley, offering glimpses of Hawaii’s stunning natural beauty and rich history. The trail begins at the designated trailhead in the Nuuanu-Pali State Park and ends at the iconic Pali Lookout.


From the trailhead, the path initially leads you through a dense forest of bamboo, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The path gradually ascends as you make your way deeper into the valley, revealing glimpses of cascading waterfalls and vibrant foliage along the way.


As the trail winds its way up, you will encounter varied terrain, including sections of steep inclines and rocky outcrops. These challenging portions of the trail are balanced out by more level stretches, providing hikers with moments of respite.


Throughout the hike, you will be surrounded by a diverse range of flora, including towering ferns, wild orchids, and native Hawaiian plants. As you continue your ascent, be sure to take the time to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you and keep an eye out for any native bird species that may cross your path.


At approximately the halfway point, you will reach a junction known as the Judd Trail. Here, you have the option to continue on the Nuuanu Trail towards the Pali Lookout or explore the Judd Trail, which offers its own unique beauty and hiking experience.


If you choose to continue on the Nuuanu Trail, you will gradually make your way up to the Pali Lookout. As you near the end of the hike, the trail opens up to panoramic views of the Windward Coastline, stretching out towards the neighboring islands of Maui and Molokai.


The Pali Lookout serves as the grand finale of the hike, offering hikers a picturesque spot to rest, admire the breathtaking views, and take memorable photographs. Gazing out over the sheer cliffs of the Pali, you can truly understand why this lookout has become an iconic destination in Hawaii.


After taking in the scenic vistas, you can choose to retrace your steps back along the Nuuanu Trail to return to the trailhead, completing the round trip hike.


The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike provides a captivating blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and rewarding vistas. With its varied terrain and stunning surroundings, this trail is sure to leave a lasting impression and create cherished memories of your time exploring Hawaii’s scenic outdoors.


Scenic Views

The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is renowned for the stunning scenic views it offers along the way. From lush valleys to panoramic vistas, this trail provides hikers with a visual feast that showcases the beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscapes.


As you begin your journey on the Nuuanu Trail, you’ll find yourself immersed in the enchanting beauty of the Nuuanu Valley. The trail meanders through a dense forest of bamboo, creating a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. The towering bamboo stalks sway gently in the breeze, adding to the sense of serenity.


As you ascend further, you’ll be treated to intermittent glimpses of cascading waterfalls that dot the valley. These breathtaking sights add an element of magic to the hike, with the rushing water creating a soothing soundtrack to your journey.


Continuing along the trail, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Nuuanu Valley. The lush greenery, punctuated by vibrant wildflowers and ferns, stretches out before you, creating a picturesque setting that is quintessentially Hawaiian.


One of the highlights of the hike is undoubtedly the Pali Lookout, which marks the culmination of your journey. As you reach this iconic viewpoint, you’ll be greeted by awe-inspiring vistas of the Windward Coastline. On clear days, you can see the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean extending as far as the eye can see, with the neighboring islands of Maui and Molokai appearing as silhouettes on the horizon.


The sheer cliffs of the Pali Lookout create a dramatic backdrop, adding to the grandeur of the views. You’ll feel like you’re standing at the edge of the world as you take in the breathtaking expanse of nature.


Whether you’re a photography enthusiast looking to capture stunning landscapes or simply seeking a moment of awe and tranquility, the scenic views along the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike will not disappoint. Each turn and ascent presents a new perspective, allowing you to immerse yourself in the splendor of Hawaii’s natural beauty.


Be sure to bring your camera or smartphone to capture these magnificent views, but also take the time to simply breathe, soak in the scenery, and appreciate the incredible wonders that await you on this unforgettable hiking adventure.


Trail Conditions

The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike offers a diverse range of trail conditions, from well-maintained paths to more challenging sections. Understanding and being prepared for the varying conditions will ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


For the most part, the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. However, there may be sections where the trail becomes less defined or overgrown, requiring a bit more attention and navigation skill. It is recommended to bring a map or use a reliable GPS device to stay on track, especially if you are hiking the trail for the first time.


The terrain along the Nuuanu Trail can vary, with sections of dirt paths, rocky terrain, and uneven surfaces. Some parts of the trail may be steep, requiring cautious footing and a moderate level of fitness. It is essential to wear appropriate footwear, such as sturdy hiking boots with good traction, to navigate these conditions safely.


In wet weather or after rainfall, the trail can become muddy and slippery. Exercise caution when hiking under these conditions, as the footing may be less stable. It is best to choose appropriate footwear that offers waterproofing and traction to reduce the risk of slipping.


During your hike, be mindful of any fallen branches or debris that may obstruct the trail. If you encounter any obstacles, use caution and find an alternative path around them if necessary. It’s always a good practice to leave the trail as you found it, taking care not to disturb the natural surroundings.


As with any outdoor activity, weather conditions can influence the trail conditions. Before embarking on the hike, check the weather forecast to ensure you are prepared for any potential changes in conditions. If there are reports of severe weather or dangerous conditions, it may be best to postpone your hike for another day.


Lastly, it’s important to consider the season and time of year when planning your hike. The trail conditions can vary between the wet and dry seasons, with more rainfall and slippery conditions during the wetter months. Be mindful of any seasonal closures or maintenance work that may affect the trail access.


By keeping these trail conditions in mind and being prepared for the varying terrain, you can have a safe and enjoyable hike along the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout. Embrace the challenges, take your time, and savor the natural beauty that surrounds you on this remarkable journey.



The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike offers a unique opportunity to encounter a variety of wildlife as you explore the natural beauty of Hawaii. From native bird species to fascinating marine life, keep your eyes peeled for these remarkable creatures along the trail.


One of the highlights of the hike is the chance to spot native Hawaiian bird species. Look out for the vibrant feathers and melodious songs of the ‘I’iwi, ‘Apapane, and ‘Amakihi. These colorful birds are endemic to Hawaii and add a touch of beauty and charm to the trail as they maneuver through the canopies of the forest.


As you hike through the Nuuanu Valley, you may also come across the ‘O’o bird, a black, glossy creature known for its distinctive cooing call. Although rare and endangered, sighting the ‘O’o bird is a remarkable treat for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.


Along the trail, you may also encounter a variety of insect and reptile species. From fluttering butterflies to elusive geckos, the diverse ecosystem of the Nuuanu Valley provides a haven for these fascinating creatures. Take a moment to observe their behaviors and appreciate their role in the ecosystem.


If you venture closer to the Pali Lookout, you may catch a glimpse of marine life from the cliffs. The crystal-clear waters below are home to a rich diversity of fish, turtles, and perhaps even the occasional dolphin or whale. Keep your eyes peeled for movement in the water and be rewarded with an unexpected underwater spectacle.


It’s important to remember that you are entering the natural habitat of these creatures, and it is crucial to observe them from a respectful distance. Avoid feeding or approaching wildlife, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and ecosystem balance.


As with any outdoor activity, it is advisable to be aware of your surroundings and mindful of any potential risks. Some species of wildlife, such as insects or spiders, may be harmless but may startle or bite if provoked. It is a good practice to stay on designated trails and avoid touching or interacting with wildlife.


By appreciating and respecting the wildlife you encounter on the Nuuanu Trail, you can make the most of your hiking experience and contribute to the preservation of Hawaii’s unique ecosystem. So, keep your camera ready, stay observant, and prepare to be amazed by the incredible wildlife that crosses your path.


Safety Tips

Exploring the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is a thrilling adventure, but it’s important to prioritize safety to ensure a positive experience. By following these safety tips, you can hike with confidence and reduce the risks associated with outdoor activities.

  • Check the weather: Before heading out, be sure to check the weather forecast. In Hawaii, weather conditions can change rapidly. Avoid hiking in severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain or thunderstorms, as this can make the trail slippery and hazardous.
  • Inform someone: Let a friend or family member know about your hiking plans. Share your itinerary, including the trail you plan to hike, expected duration, and your estimated time of return. This information is crucial in case of an emergency or if you fail to return as planned.
  • Stay hydrated: Hawaii’s tropical climate can be hot and humid, especially during midday hours. Carry an adequate supply of water and make sure to drink regularly to stay hydrated. Consider bringing electrolyte-rich beverages or snacks to replenish lost electrolytes during long hikes.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing: Choose sturdy hiking boots with good traction to navigate the varied terrain on the trail. Dress in layers, as the weather can change throughout the hike. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Be mindful of trail conditions: Pay attention to trail conditions, such as slippery or muddy sections. Use caution while navigating steep inclines and rocky areas. If the trail becomes too challenging or dangerous, consider turning back or seeking an alternative route.
  • Bring essential supplies: Pack a small first aid kit with basic medical supplies, including band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and any necessary medication. Carry a whistle or signaling device that can be used in case of an emergency. A map, compass, or GPS device is also recommended for navigation.
  • Respect wildlife and the environment: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding or interacting with them. Stay on designated trails to minimize the impact on the fragile ecosystem. Pack out any trash and leave no trace behind.
  • Hike with a buddy: It’s always safer to hike with a partner or in a group. Not only does it provide added security, but it also ensures that someone is there to assist in case of an accident or emergency.

Remember, being prepared and exercising caution is essential for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience on the Nuuanu Trail. Embrace the beauty of nature, respect the surroundings, and prioritize your safety at all times. Happy hiking!


What to Bring

Proper preparation is key to having a successful and enjoyable hike on the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout. Here is a list of essential items to bring with you for a safe and comfortable hiking experience:

  • Water: Stay hydrated by bringing an ample supply of water. Aim to bring at least 1-2 liters of water per person, depending on the length and difficulty of your hike.
  • Snacks/Energy Food: Pack lightweight and high-energy snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, or energy gels. These will help keep your energy levels up during the hike.
  • Proper footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain. Choose footwear that is comfortable and provides ankle support to prevent injuries.
  • Protection from the sun: Wear sunscreen with a high SPF rating to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, breathable clothing to shield yourself from the heat.
  • Weather-appropriate clothing: Dress in layers to be prepared for changing weather conditions. Bring a lightweight rain jacket or poncho in case of unexpected rain showers. Opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying clothing to stay comfortable throughout the hike.
  • Insect repellent: Hawaii is known for its mosquito population, especially in certain areas. Protect yourself from pesky bugs by applying insect repellent before you start your hike.
  • Navigation tools: Carry a reliable map, compass, or GPS device to help you navigate the trail. Familiarize yourself with the route beforehand and be aware of any junctions or potential areas where the trail may become less defined.
  • First aid kit: Pack a small first aid kit with basic medical supplies such as adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications. It’s better to be prepared for any minor injuries or discomfort during the hike.
  • Camera or smartphone: Capture the breathtaking scenery along the trail by bringing a camera or smartphone with a good camera. Take advantage of the stunning views and document your hiking adventure.
  • Backpack: Use a comfortable and sturdy backpack to carry all your essentials. Look for a backpack with adjustable straps and enough capacity to hold your water, snacks, extra clothing layers, and other essential items.

Remember, the key is to pack light while ensuring you have all the necessary items for a safe and comfortable hike. Be prepared for the varying trail conditions and always prioritize safety and enjoyment during your journey on the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout.


Hiking Permit

Obtaining a hiking permit is not required for the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike. This means that you can hit the trail and explore this beautiful terrain without the need for any specific authorization or permission.


However, it’s important to note that even though a permit is not required, it is still essential to follow any rules, regulations, and guidelines set forth by the responsible authorities. These may include respecting trail closures, staying on designated paths, and leaving no trace behind.


While no hiking permit is needed, it is advisable to check for any updates or advisories from the park officials or local authorities before embarking on your hike. They can provide relevant information about trail conditions, closures, or any specific precautions to be aware of during your visit.


It’s also worth considering that the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike can be a popular and well-known trail, attracting both locals and tourists. As a result, you may encounter other hikers on the trail, especially during peak seasons or weekends. Be prepared for the potential for crowds and adjust your hiking plans accordingly.


Even though a hiking permit is not required, ensuring that you are well-prepared, have the necessary supplies, and are aware of the current conditions will contribute to a safe and enjoyable hiking experience on the Nuuanu Trail.


Always remember to pack out any trash, respect the natural surroundings, and leave the trail as you found it. By being responsible stewards of the land, we can all contribute to preserving the beauty of the Hawaiian outdoors for future generations to enjoy.



The Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is a captivating adventure that combines natural beauty, historical significance, and a moderate level of difficulty. As you make your way through the lush Nuuanu Valley, you’ll be treated to panoramic views, diverse flora and fauna, and a sense of connection to Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage.


From the tranquil bamboo forests to the cascading waterfalls and vibrant wildflowers, the Nuuanu Trail offers an immersive experience in Hawaii’s stunning landscapes. The hike culminates at the renowned Pali Lookout, where you can gaze out over the Windward Coastline, marvel at the neighboring islands of Maui and Molokai, and appreciate the sheer cliffs that surround you.


While hiking the Nuuanu Trail, it’s important to be prepared and prioritize safety. Check the weather forecast, let someone know about your plans, and bring plenty of water and snacks. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and be aware of the trail conditions. Following these safety guidelines will ensure a smooth and enjoyable hiking experience.


Furthermore, as you venture along the Nuuanu Trail, take the time to appreciate the diverse wildlife and respect the environment. Keep a safe distance from animals, pack out any trash, and leave no trace behind. By being responsible hikers, we can help preserve the beauty of Hawaii’s natural treasures.


In conclusion, the Nuuanu Trail to Pali Lookout hike is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. It offers a unique blend of stunning scenery, cultural heritage, and a chance to connect with the beauty of Hawaii’s natural wonders. So grab your hiking gear, embark on this remarkable trail, and create lasting memories of your unforgettable journey through the heart of Oahu, Hawaii.