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five_to_ride_hawaii

Hawaii!  Surfing, sun, snorkeling, luaus, pineapple, volcanoes, and… mountain biking?  Yep. Despite being small in area and isolated from pretty much anywhere else on the planet, sitting smack dab in the middle of our largest ocean, Hawaii is actually not just paradise in general, but paradise specifically for mountain bikers as well. Between inputs from Singletracks readers and Hawaiian insiders, we’ve compiled the following list of five Aloha State must-rides.

Pupukea Trail, Haleiwa (Oahu)

Berms and walls punctuate the Party Line Trail in the Pupukea trail system.

Berms and walls punctuate the Party Line Trail in the Pupukea trail system.

My introduction to tropical riding came on the delightful Pupukea trail system in the Pupukea-Paumalu Forest Reserve. This is truly a “something-for-everyone” trail system with climbs both gradual and gut-busting (and corresponding descents). You’ll find both natural, old-school rooty singletrack and bermed out bomber runs with man made features, tight and twisty low speed maneuvering, and swoopy-fast bench cut, all served up in spectacular scenery ranging from deep, dark woods to wide-open ocean views. It’s easy to see why most folks put this “north shore” ride at the top of their Hawaiian itinerary.

“I only give this a five because this never ending network of trails offers something to every level of rider, from a casual ride with the kids to 25 foot drops on your DH rig. You can ride for hours on end on all of the very well marked trails without getting bored.”  -babynate1

Peacock Flats, Mokuleia (Oahu)

High on Oahu's north shore lies the epic Peacock Flats route (photo: armyslowrdr)

High on Oahu’s north shore lies the epic Peacock Flats route (photo: armyslowrdr)

Another Oahu north shore ride, Peacock Flats is the island’s epic ride. With a combination of jeep roads and narrow singletrack comprising a monster climb, miles of ridgetop cross country riding, and an absolute plunge of a descent (often slippery) back to the sea, the long version of this ride will test most riders both physically and technically. Come on over here if you found Pupukea too civilized.

“Great Trail!!! Great scenic views and well worth it!

I took the Kealia Trail, which was one of the coolest parts. There are some sections that you have to hike down, but I still rode most of it. If you’re on Oahu, this place is a must!!” -GTXC4

Ohana Trail, Kailua (Oahu)

A lush, tropical forest welcomes riders to the purpose-built-for -bikes Ohana trail (photoL mtbhawaii.com)

A lush, tropical forest welcomes riders to the purpose-built-for-bikes Ohana trail (photo: mtbhawaii.com)

The first IMBA-created trail in the Aloha State, the Ohana Trail is a marvel of flowy, bike-specific joy, weaving its way through an wonderfully lush tropical jungle. While largely free of rock and other technical challenges, it is full of pumpable rollers and bermed switchbacks, making the ride all about momentum and flow. At nine miles it’s not too short and not too long; many riders consider this the perfect Goldilocks trail–it’s just right.

“I’d say the most enjoyable part of the trail is the scenery. The Ohana Trail feels extremely tropical. There will be no doubt you are riding in Hawaii. Plan to run across some of the most unique-looking vegetation you’ve ever seen. The trees in particular are varied and unique. At times it feels like riding in a Tim Burton movie, with trees twisting around themselves and winding over the trail.” –mtbhawaii.com

Makawao Forest Reserve, Makawao (Maui)

The dense foliage in the Makawao Forest Reserve provides a welcome respite from the intense tropical sun (photo: Maui Bicycle Alliance)

The dense foliage in the Makawao Forest Reserve provides a welcome respite from the intense tropical sun (photo: Maui Bicycle Alliance)

As the most populated, visited, and developed of the Hawaiian islands, it would be easy to list five great rides on Oahu alone. But Hawaii is so much more than Oahu and if you want to get a little more elbow room, a hop to the other islands is recommended–but that doesn’t mean the mountain biking opportunities dry up. Maui has a number of worthy rides, including the trails in the Makawao Forest Reserve.

“The beauty of this forest is unrivaled. You’ll see Koa trees and flowering ginger plants as well as non indigenous plants like the fragrant eucalyptus tress and pine forest.  You’ll also enjoy the cooler temperature up here (as opposed to the heat at Maui’s sea level).” –bikemaui.com

Kalopa Trails, Honokaa (Hawaii/Big Island)

When a tree falls on the Big Island, the locals leave it as they find it on the Kalopa Trails. (photo: mtbhawaii.com)

When a tree falls on the Big Island, the locals leave it as they find it on the Kalopa Trails. (photo: mtbhawaii.com)

Apparently, being away from the more civilized Oahu, folks on the big island tend to forgo trail grooming or other creature comforts tourists tend to expect, and they extend that philosophy to the Kalopa Trails.

“Honestly I could ride these trails all day long and never get bored. On Oahu there is a tendency to make everything too easy. If folks can’t easily ride over something, it gets removed. What happens is that over time trails become stale. Not so on the Big Island. If a tree falls down at Kalopa, they build a bridge over it or at the least throw some logs in front of it. I don’t think anybody has ever removed a root 🙂 Does this make it more technical? Absolutely. But it also makes it more fun. Newer riders can slow down a bit to tackle the tricky parts while more advanced riders can speed up and hone their skills. As you progress and get better the trail doesn’t get boring, it gets more interesting!” –mtbhawaii.com

Your turn: For those of you who’ve ridden paradise, what was your favorite ride and why?  Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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