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by John Alford
Imagine lush tropical forests with valleys of green. The smell of over-ripe guava fills the air, while sunbeams pierce the forest canopy and dance on the flora around you. Tiny native forest birds flutter about from tree to tree and sing their songs of joy.
Now, imagine yourself in the saddle of a mountain bike pedaling on a trail, carefully negotiating your way through blossoming ginger patches and forests of 'Ohia Lehua and Hapu'u. An opening in the thick vegetation provides a stunning view of the deep blue Pacific ocean, contrasting with the many shades of green. Feeling the cool mountain breeze in your face and the sun on your back, you say to yourself, this is Mountain Biking-Hawaiian Style.
Hawai'i offers cycling enthusiasts the perfect environment for year round fun! While many riders enjoy touring the smooth asphalt highways and roads of these islands, a whole different aspect of cycling lies off the beaten path. More and more, two-wheeled cyclists have made the transition from riding the busy, traffic congested streets to the uncrowded trails of this island wonderland.
The mountain bike, designed for off-road use, is the perfect vehicle for seeing more of Hawai'i's outdoor beauty in less time. From dirt roads to narrow single track, Hawai'i's six major islands provide a variety of trails to accommodate the skill level of any rider.
O'ahu has the most available single track open to bicycles, while the neighboring islands offer many more miles of dirt roads. Kaua'i's lush forest reserve of Koke'e State Park offer rides with a panoramic vista of Waimea Canyon. The green slopes of Maui's Haleakala harbor miles of dirt road and single track within the Kula Forest Reserve.
On Moloka'i, the arduous uphill dirt road to Kamakou Preserve offers riders misty jungles and views of the ocean and the waterfalls in Waikolu Valley on the northeastern coastline.
The private roads of Moloka'i Ranch offer recreational riding to large sandy beaches and stunning overlooks, while the Meyer Family estate offers trails to cliffs above Kaulapapa Peninsula and a valley with a stunning waterfall.
The island of Hawai'i has just about everything from volcanic cinder roads to narrow pristine single track. Or, try a sandy coastline trail or even the snow capped summit riding of the 13,796 foot Mauna Kea during the winter months.
Whatever riding interests you, the Hawaiian Islands have it. Na Ala Hele is Hawai'i's state and trail access system under the Hawaii State Department of Forestry and Wildlife. Bicycle access to state trails is allowed in many cases, yet select trails are prohibited and are marked accordingly by Na Ala Hele at the trail head.
Mountain biking on public trails is scrutinized by certain user groups due to conflicts with safety and trail erosion. While this issue is still under debate, use of these trails should always be regarded as a privilege and riders should exercise respect for the terrain and other trail users. Use of all trails are at the riders own risk. Enjoy!