Revisiting an old favorite: Diamond Head Summit Trail

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Diamond Head Japanese touristsGrowing up here, I’ve been on the Diamond Head Summit Trail dozens of times. It’s near my apartment, a great way to get a quick workout, and I love to do some interesting people watching.

Diamond Head State Monument attracts more than 600,000 visitors annually, and its popularity was clear on a recent visit. Mid-day, there were lots of people heading up and the parking lot was full.

If you haven’t been on this hike in a while, you’ll notice some changes. When you enter, you’ll see a shave ice truck on the right and an area of souvenir items for sale before the restrooms. I used to take pictures with friends in front of the sign right before the trail but now there are professional photographers there to snap your picture.

The good news is the state has worked to improve the condition of the trail. The improved walkways mean that people of different fitness levels can enjoy this 1.6-mile hike. But keep in mind the trail is considered moderately difficult and does include stairs. It also offers little relief from the sun, so make sure you bring a hat, wear sunscreen and carry plenty of water.

You should also wear sensible hiking clothes and shoes, and bring a snack.

It took my party about an hour to do the trail, which is a slow pace. The trail has you climbing 560 feet taking one switchback after another. Originally, this dirt trail was used by the Army and mules would haul supplies up. Halfway, at a lookout, you’ll see an area where there was once a winch and cable to also pull materials up.

One thing you don’t have to bring anymore is a flashlight for the tunnels. When I was a kid, if we didn’t have a flashlight, we’d just rush through it since the tunnels aren’t very long and it’s always so bright at the entrance and exit. Of course, some wise guy in our group would always try to scare us at the exit.

Once you get to the first lookout, you either climb the steep stairs coming out of the first tunnel or take the walkway on the left. The left is an newer, alternate route with fewer stairs. We picked the left and once we were at the top we crawled back down into the bunker that allows you to head down a spiral staircase and do the steep stairs we skipped. That way we got to see both options to take on this hike.

At the top of the summit, my sister wasn’t feeling too well because we rushed around in the morning and she didn’t make time for breakfast. So, if you’re in a hurry I would suggest at least grabbing a protein bar or something for energy.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing tourist for the day and vowed that on my next vacation I’ll make more time for more activities like hiking. No matter how many times I hike this trail, I’m always happy I made the effort — and was rewarded with the amazing views at the summit.

denise bio

Denise Lau is a content specialist at HMSA and blogs about mommyhood with her #808moms series. She has her hands full with a precocious, artistic daughter and active son. Her goal is to be healthy and fit while her kids become successful, well-rounded adults. Follow her on Twitter.

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