I've driven past this trailhead many times while taking the scenic route going over the Pali, and had never gotten around to actually hiking it...
Just 10 minutes' drive from downtown Honolulu (if the traffic gods are smiling), thousands of cars whiz past this piece of paradise every day without a second thought.
We turn off the Pali Highway to the beautiful Old Pali Road, which winds through lush ginger and ferns, the dappled sunlight streaming through banyan tree canopy. The homes back here are nestled in the valley, peeking through the vegetation. I find my future retirement village as we pass a townhouse development that is perched in the trees, seemingly a part of the forest. All suburbs should look like this; humans living in harmony with nature...
The hike starts in a eucalyptus grove growing on the banks of Nuuanu Stream, the ducks shaking their tails at us as we get out of the car. We hop across the small rapids and enter the bamboo forest, which feels like we are walking in a kung-fu movie. The bamboo is thick and tints the air an eeire green; the bamboo leaves rotting on the forest floor muffling our footsteps like a soggy carpet.
Soon we emerge into the Norfolk Pine forest, which is equally muted, save for the soft background gurgling of the stream. The pines tower at least 100 feet above, and the sunlight here streams down in piercing shafts rather than the soothing dapple of the banyans.
We come to the turnoff to the Nuuanu Trail, which heads up the mountainside to the valley ridges, think about following it up, and decide to save it for another day. Its a 4-hour hike over the mountain to the neighboring Manoa Valley; today we are out for a quick stroll.
Curious little voices float over the rise, and a Mama Human and her two little 'uns crest the hill, out on a stroll of their own. Judd Trail is a 45-minute loop with adult legs, and we are impressed with the way these two little billy goats pick their way through the slippery trail!
The trail winds its way back to the river, and we pick our way through the latticework of roots that hold the hillside together down to Jackass Ginger Pool...a swimming hole fed by Nuuanu Stream via a 20 foot waterfall....niiiiice...... No swimming for us today though, the recent rains have made the waters unfriendly, so instead we sit on the rocks above the pool and soak in the sounds, smells, and sights.
*Sigh*....lucky we live Honolulu !!