REOPENING OF STATE PARKS PROVIDES ACCESS TO FAMED KALALAU TRAIL
Community Group Recognized for Stewardship & Governor Ige Makes the Hike
(Hāʻena, Kaua‘i) – The eagerly anticipated reopening of Hāʻena State Park and the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park on June 17, 2019, also allows for the highly anticipated reopening of the Kalalau Trail. Considered one of the most arduous and beautiful hikes in the world, the trail attracts thousands of global visitors who seek views of the spectacular Nāpali Coast, one of Hawai‘i’s most photographed and iconic vistas.
Visitors with newly instituted park entrance permits or Hawai‘i residents can make the four-mile-roundtrip jaunt to Hanakāpīʻai Stream or the eight-mile round trip up the valley to Hanakāpīʻai Falls without additional permits. Hiking beyond the two-mile mark at the stream crossing requires an overnight camping permit from the DLNR Division of State Parks. For the latest information: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/home/haena-napali-access/
All hikers can thank the Friends of the Kalalau Trail for their devoted support in helping maintain and restore sections of the first two miles of the trail. The remaining nine miles of this challenging trail that terminates in Kalalau, has been repaired and is maintained by the Division of State Park west side field crew.
The Friends group was recently recognized with a DLNR & YOU Citizens Conservationists Award from DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. During the award presentation Case thanked group leaders for their dedication and passion, particularly over the past few months, assisting prepare trail sections for reopening. They cut back vegetation, cleared accumulated debris and restored erosion control features, and smoothed spots that were damaged in the April 2018 flooding.
The movers and shakers behind the Friends group are Mark Hubbard, Bill Newton, and Frank Whitman. A decade ago, they spearheaded a volunteer program to provide continued maintenance. Their work supplements the field crew’s efforts and is credited with helping keep the historic trail safe and readily traversable. Hubbard commented, “Beginning in February this year we tried to make twice monthly trips to get Kalalau ready for reopening. There were a lot of muddy and sloped areas since no one had been on the trail for nearly a year.
We cut back a lot of overgrown brush and vegetation and restored water diversion features to help prevent erosion.” The trio and their small cadre of regular volunteers say they not only love the area and doing work that helps others, but it’s exciting to see the fruits of their labors. Hubbard added, “It’s like wow, we can walk along this trail and see hundreds of spots that we’ve fixed and repaired, that are still solid, and you know that’s gratifying.”
Hawai‘i Governor David Ige is among those also thankful for their efforts. He and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige hiked a short section of the Kalalau Trail on June 5th after a community blessing at Hāʻena State Park. It was the governor’s first exposure to the trail, though Mrs. Ige had hiked it as a teenager. They both marveled at the first view visitors experience from the aptly named Windy Point. They hope to return with their three children for a longer hike.
The governor reflected on the changes that are coming with the reopening of the two state parks and the Kalalau Trail. He said, “As I’ve traveled around the state, I’ve heard more and more about how much, is too much? I think everybody acknowledges that the visitor industry is our number one industry. Everybody wants to support that… but when you see these kinds of trails and Hāʻena State Park, where everyone wants to visit, clearly too many people is just not a good experience for visitors or residents.”