Pretty Scenery And Minor Trespassing Along The Pearl Harbor Bike Path

Moving back home from Seattle to Kapolei was an exercise in letting go: winter boots, the Amazon Echo I set up and never used, my beloved coconut tree that found a new home with a friend.

One item I couldn’t leave behind was my commuter bicycle, which I bought in Seattle for my 4-mile ride to work. With its hills and rain, Seattle isn’t the ideal biking city, but the Leeward side of Oʻahu is relatively flat and dry, so I shipped my bike over.

Its first stop was The Bike Shop in ʻAiea, where the friendly and knowledgeable workers reassembled it and gave it a tune up to make sure everything was in working order after its overseas trip.

From there, I decided to ride back to Kapolei, which is how I discovered the Pearl Harbor Bike Path. The path begins at ʻAiea Bay State Park behind Aloha Stadium and ends at Waipahu Depot Street for a total distance of 5.2 paved, flat miles. I hopped on right behind The Bike Shop.

pearl harbor bike path

The path is an assortment of vastly different segments. At times the scenery was gorgeous, with rare views of defunct military ships in Pearl Harbor. During another stretch I was shaded by the imposing presence of the Waiau Power Plant. One of my favorite segments was under the H1 viaduct where I found myself suddenly surrounded by a loʻi kalo and watercress farm.

Loi Kalo and Watercress Farm along the Pearl Harbor Bike Path Lo’i kalo and watercress growing along the Pearl Harbor Bike Path

The path is paved and marked, removing any confusion as to where to go. The vegetation along the path is well maintained, so I rarely had to duck beneath branches or swerve around unruly bushes. Just keep your eyes peeled for kiawe thorns.

The only time I feared for my life was around a 90-degree blind turn somewhere along Pearl City where I was suddenly face to face with a speeding moped that veered off at the last minute to spare me, the driver yelling out sorry and throwing an apologetic shaka. The few other people I saw along the way were cyclists, walkers, and fishermen; and thankfully no more mopeds.

After crossing a couple wood bridges to make my way to Waipahu, I was fascinated by a long stretch of houses along a canal. They had taken advantage of their location by building docks complete with row boats and sophisticated drawbridges over the water. That day, the water level was low, but I imagine after a rainy day they’d be able to row through the canal out to the Middle Loch for some fishing.

Drawbridges over the Waipahu Canal on the Pearl Harbor Bike Path Personal drawbridges line this canal in Waipahu

The path ends on Waipahu Depot Street, so from there I headed mauka to Farrington. Not wanting to bike along the narrow shoulder of the bridge that spans Waikele Stream, I took a left on Pahu Street and used the Hula Street crossing instead, where I saw a boy reeling in a catch from a large school of splashing fish below.

The road dumps you out on Farrington again, where I was planning on staying until Fort Weaver Road. However, rail construction cut me off, prompting me to head down through the industrial area of Leokane Street to circumvent it. There aren’t any bike lanes here, but I felt safe by going slow and making eye contact with all the truck drivers.

The next leg of my ride got even more interesting. I noticed on Google Maps satellite view that there seemed to be another paved bike trail that starts behind the West Loch housing area, but there wasn’t an obvious access point to the trail from Waipahu.

I decided to get closer to the start of the path by biking down Leowaena Place, which is a looped street visible on Google Maps but with a private property sign at the start of it. I hesitated for second upon seeing the sign, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to investigate.

At the far end of the loop is a dirt clearing surrounding by brush and kiawe trees. I noticed an opening in the trees and went through it.

The vegetation was dense, creating a dark tunnel that almost caused me to miss the small gulch in front of me. Someone had erected a sketchy plywood bridge over it, and I almost turned around at that point.

Instead I decided to walk my bike to widen my weight load a little and made it over safely. Once across I could see the paved path below, which was just a quick ride down a dirt road past a lone house.

The path goes along the West Loch Estates housing area with glimpses of the water between trees. I soon reached a fork in the road: left takes you to Kapapapuhi Point Park, right continues along the path adjacent to the West Loch Golf Course.

A very narrow but rideable bridge traverses the Honouliuli Stream, and from there it was smooth sailing past the West Loch Fairways housing area. At the end of the houses the paved path turns into a dirt road, but I could see Asing Community Park so I knew I was close. The path leads you to Renton Road, which I continued down to Kapolei Parkway to get home. Overall my journey was 11.7 miles and took 60 minutes.

There were several times during my ride when I had a feeling that I’d hit an unpassable bridge or a dead end and have to backtrack to a major street. Even though I trespassed (just a little bit) and the West Loch section of the trail doesn’t seem to be an official bike path yet, my way was clear and the ride was enjoyable.

Here’s hoping the state can pave and link these segments to create one long bike trail that connects all of Puʻuloa and the ʻEwa Plains.

UPDATE: I rode the path again on April 14, 2019, and all of the information in this post is still accurate.