On Oahu you can float down a lazy river for three hours and end up at the same spot you started at. It’s pretty cool.
The exact location is at the start of the Schofield Waikane Trail, which then leads to the North fork of the Kaukonahua Stream. You can read about doing the Wahiawa Hills Loop Trail in the clockwise direction and this will lead you to the river upstream where you can start tubing.
My Directions: After leaving the road and entering the gates and walking down the dirt path for three or four minutes, you’ll drop down into the valley on a left fork in the pathway. It’s steep and slippery, especially after a rain. You’ll then descent next to a small stream on your left and then wind back up a small hill. The next fork you take will be a right hand turn uphill on the mountain and this will take you upwards in the valley. A left descent takes you down the hill and then you will have to cross the river that you will be floating. It’s then a matter of following the mountain upwards for an hour at least. You’ll catch glimpses of the river, or at least know that it is down to your right in the valley, but eventually you will see a path that leads downhill on the right side. At the end of this downhill segment is the river as captured in the photo below.
Important Information about The Hike:
This is a surprisingly strenuous, but fun 5-6 hours hike – more like an event. It involves multiple rope sections, multiple stream crossings, rock hopping, and a little bit of swimming, but I assure you that if you do this with a good group of friends, you’ll have a blast.
The main factor for deciding whether to do this hike or not is watching the gauge levels of the North Fork of the Kaukonahua Stream. You’ll want to choose a day with some water activity so that the stream is not dry, but not too much as to risk flash flooding. If you are caught in the stream during the latter, you will likely get hurt or die (*disclaimer). This water gauge system by the USGS can give you real time accurate readings of the water level and discharge. A rate of at least 5 cubic feet per second is a good indicator that the stream will be flowing and you’ll get some rapids along the way.
The next key piece of information is making sure to bring a second-backup floatie for yourself or a stranded friend. At least one person will puncture their tube in the group. Most of the time it will be a small leak and you’ll be able to keep going downstream and refilling from time to time. In more rare cases, you’ll pop the whole thing and have to start with a new one. You can buy floaties at Walmart or Longs in Pearl City. The long, lounging type floaties work better than any of the circular cut out ones. But that’s just a suggestion. I bought a racecar and my friends used a rocket ship shaped floatie and we had a blast.
The next piece of advice is bringing shoes that you can get wet and wear in the water. There’s a lot of times where you’ll have to get off your tube and walk through the stream. Wearing proper shoes (water tabbies would be best) is essential.
One final note: there is a legend in this area about the “Green Lady of Wahiawa”. I’ve never encountered her, but several people have had spooky experiences in this area. They say in the gulch you can see a moss covered woman-creature who has the stench of decaying flesh. She’s a ghost who haunts the area. But don’t be too scared because it’s only a myth. Hawaii does have a lot of spooky places where you’ll feel intense, sometimes scary energies.
And as always, Leptospirosis is prevalent in Oahu’s waters. You’ll want to make sure to not enter the water with any open cuts or wounds. Don’t drink or ingest any water either. In the rare case that you get lepto, symptoms of flu and fever will happen a few weeks later, so keep an eye out for a few weeks after finishing this hike.
All of these tips will hopefully prepare you on a sick (not that lepto kind of sick*) adventure when tubing the island’s longest river.
Hopefully you have fun on this trail and let me know in the comments how it went.
Here’s a few other links to get your started in gathering more info on the hike:
More Oahu Guides Here:
These are my other guides for Oahu. Thanks for looking!
Ultimate Guide to Oahu: Best Things to Do on Oahu – Complete Bucket List
Best Hikes: The Best Hikes on Oahu
Best Beaches: Top 5 Beaches in Waikiki
Where to Stay: Best Areas to Stay on Oahu, Hawaii – Your Travel Guide