Oahu may be known for its picturesque beaches and world-class surf, but it also has several beautiful trails to offer. Here are the most scenic trail runs of Oahu.
Home to long stretches of coast, rainforests, and waterfalls galore, you’d be hardpressed to find a more scenic place to run than Oahu, Hawaii.
As an avid trail runner, I made it a priority to track down the best runs the island had to offer when I relocated to the tropical paradise in the spring of 2021. While there are hundreds of options for hiking, finding runnable trails proved to be a little more difficult.
But, after doing some exploring, I rounded up my favorite trail runs of Oahu.
5 Most Scenic Trail Runs of Oahu, Hawaii
Aiea Loop (4.8 miles)
Located just outside of downtown Honolulu, the Aiea loop offers beautiful views of Halawa Valley, Pearl Harbor, and Oahu’s southern coastline.
Navigating through the forest, the trail features rolling hills and offers shade coverage for the majority of the route. The trail can be run in either direction. And runners are treated to an assortment of flora, from guava and banyan trees to colorful wildflowers.
Ringing in at approximately 1,300 feet of elevation gain, the trail includes exposed tree roots, creek crossings, and gradual climbs. Be careful not to trip while you’re taking in the views.
Access to the trail is from the Keaiwa Heiau Recreational Area. Bonus: There’s free parking and restrooms.
Moanalua Valley Trail (8 miles)
Famous for being the beginning of the hike to Oahu’s famous Haiku Stairs, the early portion of the Moanalua Valley Trail makes for an incredible trail run.
Starting at the Moanalua Valley Park, the trail is relatively flat and wide, making for a good running route. Run as an out-and-back, the trail navigates through the forest with many concrete bridges and stream crossings along the way.
The Moanalua Valley tends to get a lot of rain, so be prepared for wet and muddy shoes as well as stunning scenery.
Ka’ena Point (4 miles)
If you’re looking for an easy yet scenic trial run, Ka’ena Point is the way to go.
Ka’ena Point can be accessed from the north or west side of the island, but my preference is to run it from west to north. The trail is wide open with good footing and parallels the coast the entire way, treating you to views of tide pools, sand dunes, and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot breaching humpback whales.
After approximately 2 miles, you’ll reach Ka’ena Point — the westernmost tip of Oahu and an albatross breeding ground.
This run is best around sunset, as Ka’ena Point offers the best sunsets on the island. If you want to make your run longer, you can continue along the trail to the north entrance.
Makiki Tantalus Loop (8 miles)
Home to the HURT100 race, Tantalus is a part of the Honolulu Mauka Trail System. The trail system includes roughly 20 miles of trails, so there are lots of options. But a popular route is the Makiki Tantalus loop.
The loop is approximately 8 miles and includes 1,500 feet of elevation gain. Along the way, you’ll be treated to views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range as well as a wide collection of plants and trees.
The route has exposed roots, sets of stairs, and rocks, so be very careful, especially if it’s rained recently. With so many different trails to choose from, the Tantalus trail system is a good place to explore again and again. You’ll likely discover something new each time.
Ohana Trail (4.1 miles)
Typically frequented by mountain bikers, the Ohana Trail also makes for a great running and hiking trail.
Located on the east side of the island near Olamana, the tail is traditionally run as a point-to-point route. Typically, folks run from north to south. The trail begins with an ascent up 21 switchbacks. Then, it traverses across the Olamana Mountain. Finally, it descends to the White Fence area of the trail.
The trail navigates through mostly forested area, with incredible coastal views sprinkled in along the way. Further, the Ohana Trail was created by the IMBA Trail Care Crew. And it’s the only mountain bike-specific trail on Oahu, so be sure to give cyclists the right of way.