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The Manoa Cliff Trail On Oahu, Hawaii: Hiker’s Guide


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Aline Fancher



Welcome to the Manoa Cliff Trail, a hidden gem nestled in the lush beauty of Oahu, Hawaii. This remarkable hiking trail offers breathtaking views, challenging terrain, and an immersive experience in nature. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a memorable adventure, the Manoa Cliff Trail promises an unforgettable experience.


Located in Manoa Valley, just a short drive from Honolulu, the Manoa Cliff Trail is known for its stunning vistas, serene wilderness, and diverse plant and animal life. It’s a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking a break from the bustling city life and an opportunity to reconnect with nature.


This article serves as a comprehensive guide to the Manoa Cliff Trail, providing you with everything you need to know before embarking on this exhilarating journey. From trail details and safety precautions to nearby attractions and conservation efforts, we’ve got you covered. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and let’s explore the magical world of the Manoa Cliff Trail.


Overview of the Manoa Cliff Trail

The Manoa Cliff Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail that takes you through the enchanting Manoa Valley and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountain range and the sprawling city below. The trail is known for its challenging terrain, steep ascents, and narrow passages, making it a perfect choice for adventurous hikers seeking a thrilling experience.


As you venture along the Manoa Cliff Trail, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii’s tropical rainforest. The trail winds through dense foliage, towering trees, and vibrant flora, creating a sense of tranquility and awe. Keep your eyes peeled for native plant species, such as the iconic Hawaiian hibiscus and kukui nut tree, as well as unique bird and insect species that call this area home.


One of the highlights of the Manoa Cliff Trail is the mesmerizing Manoa Falls, a 150-foot waterfall that cascades down a moss-covered cliff. The trail leads you to a viewpoint where you can admire the powerful rush of water and feel its refreshing mist on your skin. It’s truly a sight to behold and a photographer’s dream come true.


While the Manoa Cliff Trail offers awe-inspiring beauty, it’s important to note that it can be a challenging hike for beginners or those with limited physical fitness. The trail is steep and requires a moderate level of endurance and agility to navigate. However, with proper preparation and a positive mindset, hikers of all levels can enjoy the trail and experience its rewarding views.


Before embarking on this adventure, remember to check the trail conditions and weather forecast. As with any outdoor activity, it’s important to prioritize safety and be prepared for any changes in weather or trail conditions that may arise. Additionally, make sure to pack appropriate gear, including sturdy hiking shoes, sun protection, and plenty of water.


The Manoa Cliff Trail offers visitors a unique and invigorating experience in the heart of Hawaii’s natural wonders. With its challenging terrain, breathtaking views, and mesmerizing waterfall, it’s no wonder that this trail has become a favorite among locals and tourists alike. So, grab your sense of adventure and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey along the Manoa Cliff Trail.


Trailhead and Parking

The trailhead for the Manoa Cliff Trail is easily accessible and located at the end of Manoa Road in Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s about a 15-minute drive from downtown Honolulu, making it a convenient choice for both locals and tourists.


When it comes to parking, there is limited space available near the trailhead, so it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a spot. The parking area is located at the entrance of Lyon Arboretum, and a small fee may be required to park your vehicle. Alternatively, you may choose to park in the nearby residential area, but be sure to adhere to designated parking restrictions and be respectful of the residents.


It’s important to note that the Manoa Cliff Trail is a popular hiking destination, especially on weekends and holidays. As a result, parking can be quite challenging during peak hours. To avoid any inconvenience, consider carpooling or utilizing ride-sharing services to reach the trailhead.


Once you’ve parked your vehicle, make your way to the trailhead, which is well-marked with signs. Before embarking on your hike, take a moment to review the trail map and any posted information or guidelines. It’s always beneficial to have a clear understanding of the trail and its characteristics before you start your adventure.


Remember, it’s important to be respectful of the surrounding area and other hikers. Keep noise levels to a minimum, dispose of trash properly in designated bins, and follow any posted regulations or guidelines. By doing so, we can all contribute to the preservation and enjoyment of the Manoa Cliff Trail for future generations.


Trail Difficulty and Duration

The Manoa Cliff Trail offers a moderate to strenuous level of difficulty, making it suitable for those who are seeking a challenging hiking experience. The trail consists of steep inclines, narrow sections, and uneven terrain, requiring hikers to have a certain level of physical fitness and agility.


The total length of the trail is approximately 2.5 miles, with an elevation gain of around 800 feet. The average completion time for the trail is about 2 to 3 hours, depending on your pace and the amount of time spent exploring the various viewpoints and attractions along the way.


It’s essential to be prepared before embarking on the Manoa Cliff Trail. Make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots that provide good traction, as the terrain can be slippery, especially after rainfall. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, as there are no water sources along the trail. It’s also recommended to bring snacks or a light meal to refuel your energy during the hike.


As with any outdoor activity, it’s crucial to be aware of your own physical limitations and listen to your body. Take breaks as needed and don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities. The primary goal is to have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


If you’re new to hiking or unsure about your fitness level, it’s advisable to start with less strenuous trails before attempting the Manoa Cliff Trail. Building up your endurance and fitness gradually will help you better navigate the challenges of this trail.


Remember, hiking is not a race, and it’s important to take the time to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding you. Pause at the designated viewpoints, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature, and capture the memories with photographs.


By being prepared, pacing yourself, and taking in the breathtaking scenery, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the experience of hiking the Manoa Cliff Trail on Oahu, Hawaii.


Highlights and Scenic Spots

The Manoa Cliff Trail is not only known for its challenging terrain but also for the incredible highlights and scenic spots that await hikers along the way. Here are some of the must-see attractions and viewpoints you’ll encounter on your journey:

  • Manoa Falls: One of the main highlights of the trail is the majestic Manoa Falls. As you make your way up the trail, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of this impressive 150-foot waterfall cascading down a lush cliff. It’s a perfect spot to take a break, capture stunning photographs, and feel the refreshing mist on your face.
  • Panoramic Views: As you ascend higher on the trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding valleys, mountains, and the city of Honolulu. The lush greenery, dramatic cliffs, and distant ocean views create a picturesque backdrop that is truly captivating.
  • The Bamboo Forest: Along the trail, you’ll encounter a section known as the “Bamboo Forest,” where towering bamboo trees create a magical ambiance. The rustling sound of the bamboo leaves as they sway with the wind adds a unique touch to the hiking experience.
  • Cool Mountain Breezes: As you hike through the shaded parts of the trail, you’ll be greeted by gentle mountain breezes that provide relief from the tropical heat. The cool air and tranquil surroundings create a serene atmosphere, allowing you to connect with nature and find inner peace.
  • Native Flora and Fauna: The Manoa Cliff Trail is home to a diverse range of native plant and animal species. Keep an eye out for colorful tropical flowers, such as the delicate Hawaiian hibiscus, as well as unique bird species like the ‘I’iwi and ‘Apapane. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a chameleon or gecko on your hike.

These are just a few of the highlights and scenic spots that make the Manoa Cliff Trail a truly memorable adventure. Each step will bring new discoveries and moments of awe-inspiring beauty. So, take your time, soak in the sights, and create lasting memories as you explore this remarkable trail.


Safety Tips and Precautions

Hiking the Manoa Cliff Trail can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s important to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions. Here are some essential tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike:

  • Check the weather: Before heading out, always check the weather forecast for the area. Avoid hiking during heavy rainfall or stormy conditions, as it can make the trail slippery and dangerous. If inclement weather occurs during your hike, seek shelter and wait for conditions to improve.
  • Wear appropriate gear: Choose sturdy hiking shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven and potentially slippery terrain. Dress in layers and wear moisture-wicking clothing to stay comfortable throughout the hike. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Stay hydrated: Carry an ample supply of water to stay hydrated, especially as there are no water sources along the trail. It’s recommended to drink water regularly throughout the hike, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Inform someone: Let someone know about your hiking plans, including your expected return time and the trail you’ll be hiking. This way, if any unforeseen circumstances arise, someone will be aware of your whereabouts and can notify authorities if necessary.
  • Stay on the trail: Stick to the designated path and avoid veering off into unmarked areas. Straying from the trail can lead to accidents, encounter native wildlife, or disrupt delicate ecosystems. Respecting the natural surroundings is essential for preservation and safety.
  • Watch your step: The Manoa Cliff Trail can be challenging, with steep sections and uneven terrain. Pay close attention to your footing and take it slow when navigating these areas. Be cautious of loose rocks or slippery surfaces, especially after rainfall.
  • Bring a buddy: Hiking with a companion is not only more enjoyable, but it also adds an extra layer of safety. If possible, hike with a friend or join a guided hiking group to ensure you have someone to rely on in case of emergencies.
  • Leave no trace: Respect the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles. Carry out all trash, dispose of waste properly, and avoid leaving any marks or damage on the trail or surrounding areas. Help preserve the beauty of the Manoa Cliff Trail for future generations to enjoy.

By following these safety tips and taking necessary precautions, you can have a safe and memorable hike along the Manoa Cliff Trail. Remember, your safety is in your hands, so be prepared, stay aware, and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this remarkable hike.


What to Bring

When embarking on a hike along the Manoa Cliff Trail, it’s important to come well-prepared. Here are some essential items to bring with you:

  • Hiking shoes: Choose sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain. It’s important to have proper footwear that provides support and helps prevent slips and falls.
  • Appropriate clothing: Dress in layers and wear moisture-wicking clothing to stay comfortable throughout the hike. Bring a lightweight rain jacket or poncho in case of unexpected rain showers. It’s also advisable to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Water and snacks: Carry an ample supply of water to stay hydrated, especially as there are no water sources along the trail. Pack snacks such as energy bars, nuts, or fruits to keep your energy levels up during the hike.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF. Additionally, bring insect repellent to ward off any pesky mosquitoes or bugs.
  • Navigation aids: It’s a good idea to bring a map of the trail or have a reliable hiking app on your phone. Familiarize yourself with the trail route and landmarks before starting your hike.
  • First aid kit: Carry a basic first aid kit that includes bandages, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, and any personal medications you may need.
  • Mobile phone and emergency whistle: Keep your mobile phone fully charged and accessible in case of emergencies. Additionally, pack an emergency whistle to signal for help if needed.
  • Camera or smartphone: Capture the stunning vistas and memorable moments with a camera or smartphone. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries or a portable charger to keep your devices powered.
  • Trash bags: Help keep the trail clean by bringing trash bags. Pack out all your trash and dispose of it properly to minimize your impact on the environment.

Remember, it’s important to pack light but also be prepared for any potential circumstances. Having the right gear and essentials will ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience along the Manoa Cliff Trail.


Hiking Etiquette

When hiking the Manoa Cliff Trail or any other trail, it’s essential to adhere to proper hiking etiquette to ensure a positive and respectful experience for everyone. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Stay on the trail: Stick to the designated trail and avoid creating shortcuts or veering off into unmarked areas. This helps prevent damage to the surrounding vegetation and preserves the natural landscape.
  • Yield to hikers: If you encounter other hikers on the trail, yield to those ascending, as they have the right of way. Step aside and allow them to pass safely. Use caution when overtaking slower hikers and give them ample space.
  • Keep noise levels down: Respect the tranquility of the natural environment by keeping noise levels to a minimum. Avoid loud conversations, playing music out loud, or any disruptive behavior that may disturb other hikers or wildlife.
  • Pack out your trash: Follow the principle of “Leave No Trace” and carry out all your trash with you. Dispose of waste properly in designated bins or take it back with you and dispose of it responsibly.
  • Respect wildlife: Maintain a safe distance from wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching them. Remember, they are wild animals and should be observed from a distance to ensure their safety and yours.
  • Be mindful of restroom etiquette: If nature calls during your hike, make sure to find a secluded spot away from the trail and water sources. Carry a small trowel to dig a hole for disposing of human waste and cover it properly.
  • Share the trail: Hiking trails are shared by hikers, runners, and sometimes even mountain bikers. Be aware of your surroundings, yield to others, and use proper trail etiquette when encountering different types of users.
  • Leave nature undisturbed: Avoid picking flowers, damaging plants, or disturbing natural features along the trail. Leave everything as you found it so that others can enjoy the beauty of the trail.
  • Be kind and courteous: Practice kindness, respect, and courtesy towards fellow hikers and trail users. Offer assistance if someone is in need and be patient and understanding on the trail.

Following these hiking etiquette guidelines ensures a harmonious and enjoyable experience for all hikers, while also preserving the environment and natural beauty of the Manoa Cliff Trail.


Environmental Conservation Efforts

Preserving the natural beauty of the Manoa Cliff Trail is crucial for its long-term sustainability. Several conservation efforts have been put in place to protect the delicate ecosystem and ensure the trail remains pristine for future generations to enjoy:

  • Trail maintenance: Regular trail maintenance is conducted to clear any fallen branches, debris, or obstacles along the path. This helps ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience for all visitors.
  • Native plant restoration: Efforts are underway to restore and protect native plant species along the trail. Invasive plants are removed, and native species are reintroduced, helping to maintain the ecological balance and enhance the natural beauty of the area.
  • Educational programs: Various educational programs and initiatives are offered to raise awareness about the fragile ecosystem of the Manoa Cliff Trail. This includes educating hikers about the importance of respecting wildlife, leaving no trace, and minimizing human impact on the environment.
  • Volunteer opportunities: Local organizations and community groups organize volunteer activities to clean the trail, plant native species, and perform other maintenance tasks. These efforts help engage the community and foster a sense of stewardship towards the preservation of the trail.
  • Signage and information: Clear signage and informative boards are placed along the trail, providing hikers with important information about the flora, fauna, and conservation efforts in place. This helps raise awareness and encourages responsible hiking practices.
  • Partnerships and collaborations: Collaboration between various entities, including local government agencies, conservation organizations, and hiking groups, is vital in implementing effective environmental protection measures. By working together, these groups can pool resources and knowledge to preserve and maintain the trail.

It’s essential for hikers to play their part in environmental conservation as well. By practicing leave no trace principles, packing out trash, and respecting the natural surroundings, hikers can contribute to the preservation of the Manoa Cliff Trail and its ecosystem.


Remember, the beauty of the trail lies not only in its stunning landscapes but also in the rich biodiversity it harbors. Let’s all do our part to protect and conserve the Manoa Cliff Trail, ensuring its natural splendor can be enjoyed by generations to come.


Nearby Attractions and Activities

Located in the vibrant island of Oahu, the Manoa Cliff Trail offers not only a breathtaking hiking experience but also proximity to several other attractions and activities. Here are some nearby highlights to explore:

  • Manoa Valley Arboretum: Adjacent to the Manoa Cliff Trail is the Manoa Valley Arboretum, a botanical garden boasting an impressive collection of tropical plants, including rare and endangered species. Take a leisurely stroll through the arboretum and admire the diverse flora of Hawaii.
  • Tantalus Lookout: A short drive from the trailhead is the Tantalus Lookout, offering panoramic views of the city, the mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the stunning sunset vistas and capture memorable photographs of the picturesque scenery.
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa: Visit the nearby campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, known for its beautiful architecture, scenic landscapes, and world-class educational facilities. Take a leisurely walk around the campus and explore the various gardens and art installations.
  • Waikiki Beach: Head towards the South Shore of Oahu to experience the famous Waikiki Beach. Relax on the sandy shores, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, or try your hand at surfing. Waikiki offers a plethora of dining, shopping, and entertainment options to complement your beach day.
  • Honolulu Museum of Art: Immerse yourself in the art and culture of Hawaii at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Discover an extensive collection of Asian, European, and Hawaiian art, as well as rotating exhibitions and educational programs.
  • Diamond Head State Monument: Head southeast from the Manoa Cliff Trail to explore the Diamond Head State Monument. Hike to the summit of Diamond Head, an iconic volcanic crater, and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline and Honolulu.
  • Shangri La: Visit the Shangri La, a museum dedicated to Islamic art and culture. Located on a stunning coastal property, the museum offers guided tours showcasing its exquisite collection of art and architecture.

These are just a few of the many attractions and activities near the Manoa Cliff Trail. From natural wonders to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the vibrant surroundings of Oahu.


As you plan your visit, be sure to check the operating hours and any necessary reservations for these attractions, as availability may vary. Take advantage of the diverse offerings and make the most of your time exploring the beauty of the island.



The Manoa Cliff Trail on Oahu, Hawaii offers a remarkable hiking experience that combines stunning natural beauty, challenging terrain, and a sense of adventure. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views, captivating waterfalls, and a vibrant ecosystem that showcases the unique biodiversity of the island.


While the trail presents its challenges, it rewards hikers with unforgettable sights and an opportunity to connect with nature. Remember to prepare adequately, pack essential items such as water, proper footwear, and sun protection, and adhere to safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


As you explore the Manoa Cliff Trail, take the time to appreciate the delicate balance of the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles to ensure the conservation and preservation of this natural wonder. Respect the trail, its flora and fauna, and the fellow hikers that share this breathtaking experience with you.


Beyond the trail, the surrounding area offers additional attractions and activities that complement your visit. From botanical gardens to stunning beaches and cultural institutions, there is no shortage of things to see and do in the vibrant island of Oahu.


Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast seeking a memorable adventure, the Manoa Cliff Trail is sure to leave a lasting impression. So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the challenges, and allow yourself to be captivated by the sheer beauty of this Hawaiian gem. Start planning your visit today and embark on an unforgettable journey along the Manoa Cliff Trail.