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Reservoir Road (Hiking Trail)

Reservoir Road (Hiking Trail)

Mahalo to Lava Dogs fan Kristin C. for sharing this dog-friendly hiking trail.  We have yet to traverse it, but it looks and sounds amazing!

Location: From Wainuenue Avenue, it is the first left after Akolea Road (just after Manaolana Place on the right).

This is the trailhead.

This is the trailhead.

As of Fall 2017, parking is no longer allowed by the gate. There is a spot on the side of Waianuenue JUST after the Akolea turn.  The road with a chain gate just above that spot is where you enter.  The no trespassing sign refers to what is on the left.  The sign is misleading.  The gate itself has a sign – “No vehicular traffic beyond this point.”  (There’s another “no trespassing” sign on a gate further in, which is always open. That can be ignored, too.  It is most likely for when the gate may have been closed in the past.  Even when the water company is working there during the week, they ignore anyone wandering around in there, so there should be no problem whatsoever… other than the one paved road branching off left from the 4 way intersection that is private and off-limits.)  **IMPORTANT: Parking is very limited, and the more considerate you are, the more vehicles can fit.  If you block the gate, they do tow!

This is the turn-in to the trailhead.

This is the turn-in to the trail head.

From Kristin: “There’s a dirt road passing several water reservoirs, owned by the water company, which continues into the Hilo watershed forest reserve.  This is heavily used by dog walkers and groups heading to the waterfalls.  Dogs are most often off leash; I’ve rarely encountered dogs on leash.  Unfortunately, the road seems to be nameless. It is the first left after Akolea Road heading mauka up Wainuenue Avenue.  Parking is limited, on the side of the road, not blocking any driveways or the water company gate.”  Please click here for a map.

Trail Directions: Pass by side of the gate and continue up the reservoir road (trail).  The road starts out paved, but turns quickly into gravel.  Shortly after passing a reservoir on the left, and after the road turns to gravel, there will be 2 prongs to the right. The 2nd one leads to the river.  If you instead continue straight a total of about 0.9 miles to a 2nd water tank, you will reach a 4-way intersection.  The trail to the right leads to the waterfalls.  Going straight, pass along the side of a cattle gate.  At the next intersection, the road going straight quickly leads to the river and the top of a large waterfall (not a good place for dogs to swim!).  The road to the left leads to a bridge crossing the river, and this calmer part of the river can be accessed from a little trail just on the far side of the bridge.    From here, the main road continues up another couple miles to a dam – also a good place to let dogs frolic in the water if you get that far.  Back at the 4-way intersection, the paved road to the left is apparently a private road and only leads to another water tank.

When To Go:  Dog walkers are usually there in the mornings and late afternoons.  By 11:00 a.m. on weekends, parking is usually filled by people heading to the waterfalls.

**Important:  If your dog is off-leash, please be respectful of leashed dogs.  Call your dog(s) to you and leash them when passing other dogs on leash. Mahalo!

Here are three photos from along the ‘reservoir road.’  One at the waterfalls, one along the road, and one at the river (there is a road branching off to the right from the main reservoir road that leads to river access although the river can also be accessed just above the waterfalls as well).

Hilo Watershed trail
Hilo Watershed trail3Hilo Watershed trail2


  1. This sounds AMAZING!!!!! I can’t wait to bring my baby here, thank you so much for all these fantastic shares for our fur babes!!

  2. This is an amazing trail but please be very respectful is very limited and the more considerate you are the more folks can fit. If you block the gate they do tow! If your dog is off leash still respectful to call to you and leash when other dogs on leash come by (because of seclusion I know people that walk their reactive dogs there sometimes).

  3. Just checked this out this morning before agility class, its awesome. Didn’t have enough time to get to the water but will return soon.

  4. thank you so much for this info! i’ve been searching for an off leash hike for my pooch in the hilo area and i cannot wait to try this out! thank you for creating this website and all the love and care you put into it!!!

  5. Hi
    Omy gosh this sounds fantastic!!! I was wondering how far of a walk in is it? My husband is recovering from leg injury & altho exercise is good we dont want to overdue it. Always lo e trying new places w our Furbaby- Thanks again.

    • Aloha Cheryl, Reservoir Road hiking trail can take 4 to 5 hours total to hike, but about every 1 mile there’s a place to stop and get in the water. So, you could make this hike as long or as short as you’d like. I hope this helps. Would love to see photos when you go!

  6. This sounds fabulous! Thanks for sharing and YAY LavaDogs for this great resource!

  7. Just tried this trail yesterday and had a great time. Wanted to add that parking is no longer allowed by the gate. There is a spot on the side of Waianuenue JUST after the Akolea turn. The road with a chain gate just above that spot is where you enter.

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