Don't let the name trick you. Peacock Flats is definitely not flat! The route starts on Farrington Highway where you're likely to encounter a stiff headwind. Then, after a long and arduous climb on a paved road with no shade, you'll finally enter the Kuoakala Forest Reserve, which mercifully is heavily shaded.
Here, the easy forest roads connect some technically challenging singletracks. The singletracks feature spectacular views of the western and northern shores of the Oahu coast with the Pacific Ocean beyond. You may want to keep your eyes on the trail though so you don't end up tumbling of a cliff.
Hawaii is a tropical paradise which means the trails can remain muddy after a rain for some time. Please don't ride wet trails.
You can park at Mokuleia Beach Park or at Dillingham Airfield. From the parking area, head east on pancake flat Farrington Highway. It may be pancake flat, but you're likely to encounter stiff wind, so don't count on an easy start to the loop. Turn right onto the Mokuleia Access Road
. After traveling inland for one mile, the climb begins. You've got about 2.5 miles to climb 1,500 feet and there isn't any shade to speak of. The first mile is "easy" and then you've got a 13% grade climb for the next mile and a half or so.
Finally, you'll reach a gate at the Mokuleia Firebreak Road
and some shade. This also signals the end of the main climb. You've then got about five miles to cool down on Mokuleia Firebreak Road
as it winds its way near the ridge. Eventually, you'll start a much more gradual climb, reaching 1,900 feet. There are occasional views of the Pacific to keep you entertained.
At about 10.5 miles, take a sharp left onto the Kuaokala Ridge Trail
. This is a challenging singletrack with awesome views of the west coast of Oahu and the Pacific Ocean beyond. It's a technical singletrack and at times there is some exposure, so don't become overly preoccupied with the views. There are a couple places where even the most advanced riders will likely have to dismount, and a few more places where the rest of us mortals will be hiking.
In this direction, the Kuaokala Ridge Trail
descends towards its terminus near the Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station (which will be to the left (west) on the paved road). At times this is a secure facility, so maybe a visit isn't the best idea. The Peacock Flats loop continues onto the Kuaokala Firebreak Road
towards the east.
The Kuaokala Firebreak Road
climbs most of the altitude you lost on the Kuoakala Ridge Trail, but it's not as steep as the initial climb up Mokuleia Access Road
and it's also has good tree cover, again with sufficient breaks in the foliage to enjoy the ocean views. You'll ride Kuaokala Firebreak Road
almost back to where you turned off onto Kuaokala Ridge Trail
A short distance before you get there (at 16.8 mi), you'll take a left onto Kealia Trail
. Kealia descends to the coast above Dillingham Field. The descent seems to get more and more steep as you near the airfield. The first 1.5 miles is not too bad - a well-earned descent on a wide trail. When you get to a clear viewpoint at 18.5 miles, (you'll know when you get there), stop to enjoy the view because you won't want to take your eyes off the trail after that. This is also a good point to strap on any armor if you've carried it all this way, and make sure your will is up to date.
Once you depart the viewpoint, it seems like you're riding on the edge of a cliff until you reach the airport. This portion of Kealia Trail
is a narrow singletrack with probably 20 sharp switchbacks to negotiate along the way down and all at 20-30% grade with some rocks thrown in just for good measure.
The views of Dillingham Field, the North Shore (which often has huge waves for advanced surfers), and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean are continuous along the top half of the descent and quite spectacular if you can take your eyes off the trail. Don't take you're eyes off the trail for too long though, because a fall could send you careening over a cliff and quite a ways downhill and any flying should only be done from the airport.
Also keep in mind, this portion of the Kealia Trail
is popular with hikers so that is another reason to keep it under control.
Once you've safely reached the bottom, turn left when you reach the paved road at Dillingham Field, which will take you to Farrington Highway. Turn right on Farrington Highway and hope it isn't too windy to go back to your car at the Mokuleia Beach Park if you haven't parked at the airfield.