The razor-back Ko'olau Range lords over metro Honolulu, and pocketed into its midsection is Manoa Valley, home to 200 lushly planted acres that have been a research facility for the University of Hawaii since 1918.
The patio behind the gift shop at Lyon Arboretum is a perfect elevation above the valley floor--high enough so that the gardens slope downward in the foreground, while the rippling green ridge of the Ko'olaus rises to envelope the grand scene.
Intent on taking the tourist trot to nearby Manoa Falls, many visitors miss this beauty. And, while the falls hike is for-sure worth the footsteps, other close-by trails offer choices for visitors. You can head up the stream in Lyon, into relatively unkempt flora, to Aihualama Falls. Or, by taking a fork in the road heading into Manoa Valley, find the trailhead for the view hike to Pu'u Pia, which is tucked away in a tangle of neighborhood streets.
This trail leads indirectly to the Wa'ahila Ridge Trail, which takes you on a whole lot of up to Mount Olympus, the granddaddy of Ko'olau hikes. Oahu Trailblazer has the deets.