Likeke Falls

Pali Lookout, Hawaii, USA

About Likeke Falls


Hiking Distance: about a mile round-trip; 3.5-4 miles round trip (old way)
Suggested Time: from 1 hour (easy way) to 2.5 hours (old way)

Date first visited: 2007-01-21
Date last visited: 2021-11-24

Waterfall Latitude: 21.36902
Waterfall Longitude: -157.79214

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Likeke Falls (not Likelike Falls as I had previously thought) is a pretty 30-40ft waterfall that is a well-hidden gem was previously known mostly to locals though it seemed to have gotten some notoriety over the years.

I was first made aware of this waterfall from our 2000 edition of the Hikers Guide to O’ahu by Stuart M Ball, Jr.

Likeke_Falls_029_01212007 - Likeke Falls
Likeke Falls

When we first went to this waterfall in January 2007, we followed the route described in the book as it had us go down an old road from the Pali Lookout, then under the Pali Highway, before going through a jungle path leading to the falls.

When we came back in November 2021, we were made aware that there was an easier path from the Ko’olau Golf Club along with some increasing notoriety.

The Stuart Ball book made me aware that of how the approach he described happened, which was largely the effort of one man – Richard H. Davis.

Richard H. Davis and Likeke Falls

During my research, I learned that the Likeke Trail was created in the 1960s by the late Richard H. Davis.

Likeke_Falls_045_01212007 - Looking back at the rickety steps leading beneath the Pali Highway overpass, which apparently Richard H. Davis maintained until his dealth
Looking back at the rickety steps leading beneath the Pali Highway overpass, which apparently Richard H. Davis maintained until his dealth

Even the Hawaiian word “Likeke” meant Richard, and this was how the waterfall got its name (not to be confused with the word “Likelike” which corresponds to the nearby highway going across the Ko’olau range).

He was a longtime O’ahu hiker and member of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club.

Although Davis scouted numerous other trails on this island, maintaining this particular trail was his personal project until his final years.

However, given the somewhat sketchy nature of this hike, it didn’t seem to be officially endorsed by Na Ala Hele nor the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) so its status about future access is not guaranteed.

Hiking to Likeke Falls via the Richard H. Davis Way

Likeke_Falls_015_01212007 - The view from the Pali Lookout, which was where we started the hike on the trail that Richard H. Davis built
The view from the Pali Lookout, which was where we started the hike on the trail that Richard H. Davis built

When we did this particular trail in January 2007, we found our efforts were well rewarded.

From what we could tell at the time, the locals seemed to agree given the handful of them (and even tourists) that we saw during our hike on the Likeke Trail.

This was surprising since there were no signs indicating the presence of this waterfall.

In fact, I thought we were fortunate to have a local who happened to be hiking this trail show us the route as we had plenty of head-scratching moments on our own.

Likeke_Falls_050_01212007 - Walking the Old Pali Highway
Walking the Old Pali Highway

Anyhow, here’s how we did the nearly 3.5-mile roundtrip hike to Likeke Falls, which was one of the more unusual hikes that we’ve done.

From the Pali Lookout car park, we walked towards Pali Lookout, then we followed the paved road (Old Pali Road) downhill to the right past the gate for about 3/4-mile.

It wasn’t long before the paved road was overwhelmed by dense vegetative overgrowth as it covered most of the road.

It kind of illustrated to us how quickly vegetation grows here or how long it has been since vehicles were allowed on this road.

Likeke_Falls_022_01212007 - Julie on the other side of the Pali Highway underpass
Julie on the other side of the Pali Highway underpass

From this point, we left the road and started to follow an apparent fork alongside the noisy and “new” Pali Highway (Hwy 61).

The trail then disappeared beneath the graffiti-laden concrete walls of Hwy 61, requiring a descent on a set of rickety wooden steps, which I understand Richard H. Davis himself had built.

Once we were at the bottom of the wooden steps, we then had to squeeze between the concrete walls supporting the Kailua-bound lanes of Hwy 61 above us.

Once we emerged from the highway’s structural underbelly, the weedy trail widened as it went underneath the Honolulu-bound lanes of Hwy 61.

Likeke_Falls_025_01212007 - The spot where the faint trail left the pavement of the old A'uloa Road
The spot where the faint trail left the pavement of the old A’uloa Road

Eventually, we regained the normal hiking trail on the other side of the freeway and started to walk beneath the tall columns supporting it.

Then, the trail veered away from the noisy highway, and rejoined the weedy pavement of Old Pali Road.

The trail continued downhill on Old Pali Road to the junction with A’uloa Road, which was closed to vehicular traffic in this area.

That was when we saw a trail leaving the pavement at a hairpin turn between the end of a concrete railing and a power pole.

Likeke_Falls_040_01212007 - The spot where we left the rocky 'road' and finally approached Likeke Falls
The spot where we left the rocky ‘road’ and finally approached Likeke Falls

I believe this was supposed to be the official start of the Likeke Trail (as everything up til now was just to be able to access this entry point).

At first the trail ascended several switchbacks before undulating through a humid, jungle-like canopy.

We went straight at a four-way intersection and then the trail entered into a stone road with grass growing between the stones.

Not far along this road, we took a left turn to leave this road and eventually (probably about 10 minutes) cross right in front of Likeke Falls.

Likeke_Falls_037_01212007 - Julie checking out Likeke Falls, which actually had some fairly more significant flow during this January 2007 visit than it did on my November 2021 visit, which I'll describe below
Julie checking out Likeke Falls, which actually had some fairly more significant flow during this January 2007 visit than it did on my November 2021 visit, which I’ll describe below

This was the turnaround point for us though we did wonder where the rest of this trail went.

All things considered, this bit of adventure took us roughly 2 hours 15 minutes round trip.

Hiking to Likeke Falls the Easy Way from Ko’olau Golf Club

Over the years, we were made aware that there was an easier way to Likeke Falls (thanks to a website contributor), but it wasn’t until November 2021 when we finally got a chance to do it ourselves.

Indeed, it turned out that doing the trail this way was definitely more straightforward and shorter (about 1 mile round trip) though it involved starting from the Ko’olau Golf Club’s parking lot (see directions below).

Likeke_Falls_002_11242021 - The benign start to the Likeke Falls Trail the easy way via the Ko'olau Golf Club parking lot
The benign start to the Likeke Falls Trail the easy way via the Ko’olau Golf Club parking lot

That meant that we paid $10 to start from their trailhead, which might seem a bit steep for just an hour or two of doing this excursion.

That’s why I noticed that a handful of people tried to avoid paying that fee by parking further down the road in some pretty deep pullouts likely to scrape the underside of a passenger car.

Nevertheless, once I geared up and started, I promptly walked to the far southern end of the parking lot, where I noticed some pink tape with the words “Likeke Falls Trail” written on it.

Then, I followed a fairly wide trail flaked by lush vegetation and the odd tall tree with vines on them (not sure if they were banyan trees or not), which veered right then went left towards a water tank with graffiti plastered all over it.

Likeke_Falls_012_11242021 - Context of the graffiti-laden water tank and the narrower, muddy trail fronted by pink ribbons to the left of it
Context of the graffiti-laden water tank and the narrower, muddy trail fronted by pink ribbons to the left of it

As I approached that water tank, some more pink ribbons made me aware that there was a narrow and muddy dirt path going uphill then around the water tank as the trail continued south.

This muddy ascent was quite messy and slippery, and it made me appreciate the fact that I wore Keens (since they can get trashed) and I brought trekking poles for balance (especially when coming back downhill).

Shortly after getting by the muddy ascent, the trail then went around a semi-open area with a power pylon and a direct view towards a distant natural arch just to the west of the Pali Lookout.

Beyond that, the trail continued to veer in a southerly direction as I found myself carefully placing my steps among roots and fallen trees as well as avoiding mud patches.

Likeke_Falls_137_11242021 - Looking through the power lines from a power pylon where I was able to see a natural arch just to the north of the actual Pali Lookout itself as seen from the Likeke Falls easier trail
Looking through the power lines from a power pylon where I was able to see a natural arch just to the north of the actual Pali Lookout itself as seen from the Likeke Falls easier trail

By about 0.3-mile from the Ko’olau Golf Club Parking Lot, the path’s surface started to become that familiar rock-arranged path with packed dirt filling the gaps between them.

Not long after encountering this, I then came across a pair of fallen trees that I had to climb over before reaching the familiar trail junction with the spur path leading the rest of the way to Likeke Falls.

During my November 2021 visit, there were now more pink ribbons as well as blue spray-painted arrows pointing towards that spur path (where it wasn’t marked back on my January 2007 visit).

Such trail aids made me wonder if the $10 I paid for the Ko’olau Golf Club parking contributed to these improvements.

Likeke_Falls_048_11242021 - Back at the familiar junction with the Likeke Falls spur, but this time in November 2021, I noticed there were more markings indicating the way to Likeke Falls as opposed to my first time here in January 2007
Back at the familiar junction with the Likeke Falls spur, but this time in November 2021, I noticed there were more markings indicating the way to Likeke Falls as opposed to my first time here in January 2007

In any case, the remaining 0.1-mile was on a narrower and very muddy path before it eventually skirted the rock-lined Likeke Stream and ended right before the familiar waterfall.

For some reason, I used to think that Likeke Falls was only 15ft, but upon my second visit, I saw that there were more hidden, overgrown sections at its top.

Therefore, I’m now more inclined to think that the falls is now more like 30-40ft tall when you count both its upper and lower drops.

After having my fill of this falls (and getting some mosquito bites along the way despite the bug repellent I had put on), I went back the way I came.

Likeke_Falls_087_11242021 - Likeke Falls seemed to have lower flow during my November 2021 visit than it did during our January 2007 visit
Likeke Falls seemed to have lower flow during my November 2021 visit than it did during our January 2007 visit

It was worth noting that despite there being quite a few cars parked at the trail side of the Ko’olau Golf Club, I only encountered a handful of people throughout the trail (and I even had the falls all alone during my second visit).

All told, I spent barely over an hour away from the car, and this was at a pretty leisurely pace.

Authorities

Likeke Falls resides on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. As far as I know, it is not administered by any official authority. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website.

Likeke_Falls_001_11242021 - You'd think that with this many cars and people at the Ko'olau Golf Club parking lot, I ought to see more people along the Likeke Falls Trail, but it was surprisingly quiet during my pre-Thanksgiving Day visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_005_11242021 - Closer look at a pink ribbon letting me know for sure that I was on the correct path leading to Likeke Falls during my November 2021 visit
Likeke_Falls_007_11242021 - The initial part of the Likeke Falls Trail from Ko'olau Golf Course involved this wide part of the trail flanked by tall trees with vines on them
Likeke_Falls_010_11242021 - Approaching a graffit-laced water tank with the hint of the Ko'olau Range in the opening of the vegetation
Likeke_Falls_014_11242021 - As I ascended a narrow trail leading up and around the water tank, I noticed that the path was considerably muddy and slippery during my November 2021 visit
Likeke_Falls_016_11242021 - Beyond the muddy climb, the trail then followed this somewhat rooty and semi-muddy path that was still straightforward to follow during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_020_11242021 - Approaching a power pylon at an opening in the jungle, which revealed parts of the Ko'olau Range near the Pali Lookout
Likeke_Falls_023_11242021 - Looking beneath the power pylon towards the Ko'olau Mountains near the Pali Lookout
Likeke_Falls_024_11242021 - Another look at the relationship between the power pylon (with graffiti on it) and the Ko'olaus
Likeke_Falls_026_11242021 - The Likeke Falls Trail continuing beyond the power pylon and towards the waterfall itself still with pink ribbon indicators sprinkled throughout
Likeke_Falls_029_11242021 - Traversing some fallen trees as well as roots on the easier path to Likeke Falls during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_032_11242021 - Still on the Likeke Falls Trail as it went between some impressively tall white-barked trees that I wasn't sure if they were native to Hawaii or not
Likeke_Falls_036_11242021 - An interesting green-feathered bird sharing the Likeke Falls Trail with me during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_039_11242021 - Even though the Likeke Falls Trail was pretty straightforward to follow on the easier path from the Ko'olau Golf Course, there were still muddy spots that I had to watch out for during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_041_11242021 - Near the 0.6-mile point of the hike, I started to notice the stone surface of what looked like a former road, but this time in November 2021 I was coming from the north instead of from the southeast the last time I was here in January 2007
Likeke_Falls_043_11242021 - Another look at the stone road leading closer to the junction for the Likeke Falls spur during my November 2021 visit
Likeke_Falls_045_11242021 - Going through some narrow and overgrown parts of the wider stone 'road' leading closer to Likeke Falls in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_046_11242021 - Approaching some fallen trees near the junction with the Likeke Falls spur as seen in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_053_11242021 - Now on the narrower and considerably muddier Likeke Falls spur trail leading the rest of the way to the waterfall itself
Likeke_Falls_054_11242021 - Needing to get through this particularly muddy patch on the Likeke Falls spur trail during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_055_11242021 - Another look at more muddy messiness on the Likeke Falls spur trail during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_059_11242021 - Traversing some roots and rocks amongst the muddy trail as I was getting closer to Likeke Falls during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_063_11242021 - Still more jungle hiking as I was getting closer on the Likeke Falls spur during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_064_11242021 - Finally reaching the rocky stream bed of the Likeke Falls, which was just around the corner
Likeke_Falls_071_11242021 - My first look at Likeke Falls in November 2021, which was the first time in nearly 14 years
Likeke_Falls_076_11242021 - Broader look at Likeke Falls from an angle during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_101_11242021 - More frontal look at Likeke Falls, which seemed to have lighter flow during my visit in November 2021 than it did when Julie and I first came here in January 2007
Likeke_Falls_116_11242021 - Looking down across the shallow plunge pool at the base of Likeke Falls as seen in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_117_11242021 - Last look at Likeke Falls before I headed back to the Ko'olau Golf Course in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_120_11242021 - On the way back, I noticed some blue skies starting to emerge, which made the hike seem less claustrophic than on the way in during my visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_123_11242021 - Looking back at the context of the Likeke Falls Trail and some hints of the Ko'olau Ranges in the vegetation openings
Likeke_Falls_132_11242021 - Looking across another opening in the vegetation towards the Ko'olau Range and the small hole in the mountain somewhere near the Pali Lookout
Likeke_Falls_134_11242021 - Going back through the tangle of roots and vegetation on the way back from Likeke Falls in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_142_11242021 - Back at the final stretch to the Likeke Falls Trailhead at the Ko'olau Golf Course in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_146_11242021 - Finally making it back to the parking lot for the Ko'olau Golf Club to end my Likeke Falls visit in November 2021
Likeke_Falls_154_11242021 - When Julie and Tahia had to use the restrooms, the person at the lobby told us how to get there, and along the way, we got some nice views towards the Ko'olau Mountain Range.  No wonder why they named this golf course after those mountains!
Pali_Lookout_012_01182007 - Looking to the far right of the Pali Lookout. The highway and tunnel you see on the far right was where we ultimately had to go underneath them to continue on the Likeke Trail during our January 2007 visit
Likeke_Falls_018_01212007 - Descending the Old Pali Highway on our January 2007 visit
Likeke_Falls_019_01212007 - Following some folks who knew the way as they walked besides the New Pali Highway during our January 2007 visit
Likeke_Falls_048_01212007 - Going under the Pali Highway, which seemed sketchy if not for the trail description in Ball's book
Likeke_Falls_047_01212007 - Squeezing through some support columns to get to the other side during our January 2007 visit
Likeke_Falls_023_01212007 - Julie leaving the Auloa Road to get onto the trail at the hairpin turn during our January 2007 adventure to Likeke Falls
Likeke_Falls_011_jx_01212007 - Some of the thick jungle hiking that we had to do in order to reach Likeke Falls once we left the A'uloa Road during our January 2007 visit
Likeke_Falls_041_01212007 - Leaving the stone road to get onto the last bit of trail to the Likeke Falls on our January 2007 adventure
Likeke_Falls_008_jx_01212007 - Upon closer inspection, someone put this chalk mark at the spur trail leading to Likeke Falls during our January 2007 visit
Likeke_Falls_003_jx_01212007 - Finally at the Likeke Falls as we saw it in January 2007
Likeke_Falls_044_01212007 - On the return hike to Pali Lookout, it was easy to miss this fork
Likeke_Falls_053_01212007 - Walking the Old Pali Highway to end off our Likeke Falls adventure in January 2007


Since there were two ways we went about visiting Likeke Falls, I’ll describe the directions to both assuming you’re coming from Honolulu / Waikiki area.

For the first approach via the Pali Lookout, we pretty much drove to and parked at the Pali Lookout parking lot, whose off-ramp was a little over 5 miles from where the Pali Highway (Hwy 61) branched off from the H1 Freeway.

Pali_Lookout_010_jx_01182007 - The first time we visited Likeke Falls, we did a somewhat moderate hike from the Pali Lookout (more formally known as the Nu'uanu Pali State Park)
The first time we visited Likeke Falls, we did a somewhat moderate hike from the Pali Lookout (more formally known as the Nu’uanu Pali State Park)

Taking the well-signed off-ramp, it leads to the sanctioned parking lot (there’s now a state park fee to park here as of my last visit in 2021).

Note that if you’re real observant, you might be able to spot the Upside Down Falls (Waipuhia Falls) along this stretch of the Pali Highway if the trades are blowing and this waterfall’s flowing (which it wasn’t for all the times we’ve been to O’ahu).

For the second approach via the Ko’olau Golf Club, I took the Pali Highway for about 7.5 miles to the traffic lighted intersection with the Kamehameha Highway (Hwy 83).

Turning left onto Hwy 83, I then drove roughly 8.5 miles to a small street on the left towards Kahiko Street / Kionaole Road.

Pali_Hwy_and_H3_drives_004_iPhone_11232021 - The access to Kionaole Road was just north of the freeway onramp to the H3 Freeway along the Kamehameha Highway (Hwy 83)
The access to Kionaole Road was just north of the freeway onramp to the H3 Freeway along the Kamehameha Highway (Hwy 83)

Given the speed of drivers on the Hwy 83 and the lack of traffic signals, this can be a tricky left turn to make.

In any case, after getting onto the small street and the stop sign at a three-way intersection, I then turned left onto Kionaole Road and followed it for nearly a mile.

That was when I encountered a fork on the right leading up the ramp and to the Ko’olau Golf Club property, where we were led to the lobby area.

A person in a golf cart was there collecting $10, and then he directed us to park back towards the southeastern sign of the parking lot (almost back in the area where we entered the lot from), which was nearest to the Likeke Falls Trailhead.

Likeke_Falls_143_11242021 - Looking back at the context of the parking lot at the Ko'olau Golf Club. Notice how the golfing infrastructure was way in the distance while the hikers parked on the near side closer to the entrance of this lot
Looking back at the context of the parking lot at the Ko’olau Golf Club. Notice how the golfing infrastructure was way in the distance while the hikers parked on the near side closer to the entrance of this lot

For geographical context, Likeke Falls was near Kane’ohe, which was 6 miles (about 15 minutes drive) west of Kailua, 14 miles (over 30 minutes drive) northeast of Honolulu / Waikiki, 16 miles (under 30 minutes drive) east of Pearl City, 24 miles (about 45 minutes drive) south of La’ie, and 34 miles (about 45 minutes drive) southeast of Hale’iwa.

Find A Place To Stay

Downstream to upsteram sweep from the side of the falls before scrambling to the middle of the stream for a more frontal look at the falls


Up and down sweep from near the base of the main drop of the falls before ending at its shallow plunge pool

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Tagged with: likeke, richard, pali lookout, nuuanu, stuart ball, pali highway, pali hwy, bridge, oahu, hawaii, waterfall



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Nice hike. Helpful Hints. (Likeke Falls) April 1, 2013 5:01 pm by _Anonymous149 - My husband and I did this hike on a rainy day in March. We also had many head scratching moments and found it very helpful to review the notes in this web-site. We even accessed them from the trail. I really loved that there weren't lots of people on this trial and would not recommend… ...Read More
Likeke Falls – Easier path July 23, 2010 9:05 am by Rick Bernico - I am a professional photographer and was turned onto this waterfall by a local tour company which took hikers up to Likeke waterfall on a daily basis. There are a number of companies who do this. The easier way to get up to the falls is from below through the Koolau Golf course. As people… ...Read More
Memories of Likeke Falls July 24, 2009 12:41 am by Austin - I was stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station 1970 to 1972 and frequented the Likeke water falls (Oahu). Back then there was a trail off of the highway and was able to park my old 1965? 283ci Chevy Impala at the roads edge. The trail was hard to distinguish and one needed to be… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.