Ideas for Solo Hiking – Waihe‘e Ridge Trail

In April/May 2020 we are required to keep a distance from people outside of our own household to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and to allow our health and other services to take care of those who need help. Sierra Club has therefor canceled all organized outings until further notice. But we are still allowed to venture out on our own or with members of our own household for exercise such as walking, running, hiking, swimming and surfing. No need to stay cooped up at home all day. Just keep at least six feet between yourself and anyone you meet. This is the fifth of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.


The first four installments of this series covered only trails with limited elevation change. The two most popular Maui trails in the State Nā Ala Hele system provide an uphill challenge along with some extraordinary views: the Lāhaina Pali Trail and the Waihe‘e Ridge Trail. This article is about the latter of the two.

The 0.9 mile Maluhia road up to the trail head starts immediately opposite (mauka) of the Mendes Ranch on Kahekili Highway. The road ends at a parking lot with space for about 25 cars. It is often almost full. There is overflow parking at the turnoff from Kahekili Highway.

To the top of the trail and back is about 4 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,650 feet.

The first segment of the trail is a straight, steep walk up concrete, but after that it is all forest and dirt trail. Extensive repairs and improvements were completed a couple of years ago, making it less likely you’ll slip and slide. The trail is very easy to follow and you will meet families, people walking dogs and also runners.

Most of the forest is non-native but there are native ‘ōhi‘a, ‘ōlapa, uluhe and ‘ie‘ie to be seen. The Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership has been planting more native plants. There are brushes at the trailhead to clean your boots before and after hiking so you don’t risk spreading Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death or invasive species.

There are very impressive views at about the half-way point looking down to the valley and along the coast past Kahului. If you are lucky, you will have even more striking views from the top, but often that level is shrouded by clouds. Early morning is the most likely time to beat the clouds. On the way up you will see at least one waterfall.

Here is a map: https://bit.ly/waihee-ridge. The Kukuipuka Heiau is just below the trail head (leave your car in the trail head parking and walk down the road a short ways to the gate on the right).

Ideas for Solo Hiking – Upcountry

In April/May 2020 we are required to keep a distance from people outside of our own household to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and to allow our health and other services to take care of those who need help. Sierra Club has therefor canceled all organized outings until further notice. But we are still allowed to venture out on our own or with members of our own household for exercise such as walking, running, hiking, swimming and surfing. No need to stay cooped up at home all day. Just keep at least six feet between yourself and anyone you meet. This is the fourth of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.


The Makawao Forest Reserve hosts one of the more popular trails on Maui. It is easy to get to Upcountry, and a very pleasant destination for those seeking refuge from sun and heat near the coast because it is all shady. The Makawao Forest Reserve is an example of successful reforestation using non-native trees – mostly tropical ash, eucalyptus and cook pine. In today’s world the choice might have been native Hawaiian trees, but many of the benefits of reforestation have been accomplished. You will see indigenous ti plants and you may see indigenous maile and halapepe on your hike.

The Kahakapao Loop is just under five miles round-trip. It is well-marked and easy to follow as you can see in the pictures, with a gentle elevation gain of 1,165 feet. If the parking is full (at the end of Kahakapao Road), there is another parking lot accessible from the first parking lot, with a sign for horse trailers. The trail is shared with bike riders heading up-hill (they have dedicated trails for going down-hill). Here is a map:

https://bit.ly/kahakapao

Unfortunately there are many invasive plant species in the forest, including banana poka, strawberry guava and himalayan ginger. While they may be pretty to look at, they choke out native plants.


 

 

 

 

Ideas for solo hiking – West Maui

In April 2020 we are required to keep a distance from people outside of our own household to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and to allow our health and other services to take care of those who need help. Sierra Club has therefor canceled all organized outings until further notice. But we are still allowed to venture out on our own or with members of our own household for exercise such as walking, running, hiking, swimming and surfing. No need to stay cooped up at home all day. Just keep at least six feet between yourself and anyone you meet. This is the second of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy walk on the West Side with breath-taking views.

For a minimal 2-mile walk, park at Kapalua Parking at the intersection of Kapalua Place and Lower Honoapiilani Highway, cross Kapalua Place and follow the trail down to and along the ocean. Note the detour (see the map) out to a point at about 1/2 mile into the walk.

Note: as of May 12 at least, the path from DT Fleming Park to Makalua Point is closed off due to the coronavirus pandemic, so for this hike don’t park at DT Fleming. But you can park near the corner of Office Road and Lower Honoapili Road. That lets you do the Makaluapuna Point detour as well.

Update July 11: The restrooms at DT Fleming Park and the one at the other end of the hike at Kapalua Bay are now open.

For a longer outing, park at DT Fleming Park instead and head up the concrete path until you reach Kapalua Place and the trailhead described above. On the way there, take a detour on the lawn to the right where there is a fence and a monument informing about the historic events at Honokahua. In 1987 development of the Ritz Karlton started and uncovered the bones of hundreds of Hawaiians. There were massive protests on Maui and in Honolulu, leading to the moving of the Ritz Karlton away from the site, the preservation of the burial area and in 1990 to the Burial Treatment Law that gives traditional Hawaiian burials the same protections as those for Christian cemeteries.

On the way back from this longer outing, follow the Honokahua fence out to Makaluapuna Point for a detour to see some unusual lava stone formations forming a toothed wall against the crashing waves.

Here is a map:
https://bit.ly/kapalua-coastal

Ideas for solo hiking – South Maui

In April 2020 we are required to keep a distance from people outside of our own household to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and to allow our health and other services to take care of those who need help. Sierra Club has therefor canceled all organized outings until further notice. But we are still allowed to venture out on our own or with members of our own household for exercise such as walking, running, hiking, swimming and surfing. No need to stay cooped up at home all day. Just keep at least six feet between yourself and anyone you meet. This is the first of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.

South Maui is blessed with miles of easily accessible coastline that even novice hikers can enjoy. You can walk from beach to beach with only short detours on low grassy bluffs all the way from Kalama Park to Ulua Beach, over 3 miles. This stretch includes beautiful views out over low rocky cliffs as well as eight sandy beaches. Stay as close as you can to the water to keep on this trail. When you get to the South end of Ulua Beach you can walk up to the paved Wailea Beach Walk and continue for another mile to Polo Beach. No need to do the whole trail – you can generally get to it from South Kihei Road or Wailea Alanui Drive from one or both ends of any of the ten beaches it passes. Here is an approximate map of the 4+ mile (one-way) path described:

bit.ly/south-maui-walk

 

PATH Press Release on Haleakala Trail Decision

Haleakala_Trail_12_15_13_001_berkowitzOn Wednesday, after a long fourteen day jury trial before Judge Cardoza in the Maui Circuit Court, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the State of Hawai‘i (State) and plaintiffs Public Access Trails Hawai‘i (PATH), David Brown, Ken Schmitt, and Joe Bertram III, who are the lead plaintiffs in a class action on behalf of all pedestrians in Hawai‘i. The jury found that the State owns—and has always owned—the historic Haleakala Trail. The jury also dismissed Defendant Haleakala Ranch Company (HRC)’s competing claim to ownership of Haleakala Trail, which the State and plaintiffs have long alleged was based on no evidence or law. (Read the breaking Maui News story as well as more below. Also read the Maui News’ summary of the closing arguments from yesterday.)

David Brown, executive director of PATH and one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, said that the jury verdict was “monumental and ground-breaking.” “The court victory today should be celebrated by anyone who wants to recognize, preserve and protect Hawai‘i’s unique and rich cultural past, including Hawai‘i’s historical trails,” Brown explained. Ken Schmitt, another lead plaintiff, added that although Hawai‘i has many laws that protect the public’s interest in Hawai‘i’s historic trails, including the Highways Act of 1892, which places trails in the public trust, the political reality in Hawai‘i is that trails are often neglected and ignored. Schmitt reiterated the importance that this jury verdict had, and in particular applauded the State’s active role in defeating dubious claims of ownership to historical Hawaiian trails.

At trial, the State and plaintiffs presented evidence showing public use and government ownership of Haleakala Trail, including documents from the Hawai‘i State archives, government maps, newspapers, legislative journals, and travel narratives including those from Mark Twain, Jack London and Isabella Bird. There was also expert testimony from Anthony Crook, a professional surveyor, Doris Moana Rowland, the Na Ala Hele State title abstractor, and Richard Stevens, Ph.D., a world historian and expert trail researcher.

Brown said that the jury really connected with the story that the State and plaintiffs presented at trial. The evidence at trial demonstrated that Haleakala Trail was a continuation of a long-established native Hawaiian trail, which connected to an overland pass across East Maui through Haleakala Crater. Westerners began ascending Haleakala Trail long before the Mahele of 1848. Later, the government significantly improved Haleakala Trail through two major public work projects, by the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1889 and by the Territory of Hawai‘i in 1905. In 1905, a Maui News article celebrated the improvements to Haleakala Trail, trumpeting that: “It will be of general interest to the people of the Islands to learn that the Haleakala trail is now completed to the top of the crater… Come one; come all: and view this the grandest sight of Maui.” Also, in 1905, guideposts were placed along the trail at approximately every 500 feet. Schmitt explained that many of these guideposts still stand today and were crucial pieces of evidence for the jury to consider.

Brown said that the next and final phase of the trial will determine the issues remaining in the case—namely historic preservation of Haleakala Trail and securing meaningful public access. Emphasizing the importance of this final phase of trial, Brown explained, “We have a moral obligation to protect Hawai‘i’s past, including its rich history of trails. The longer we wait to protect Hawai‘i’s cultural legacy, the greater the risk it will be lost forever for generations to come.”

PATH is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is “building community ties by connecting people and places through trails, urban paths and bikeways.” PATH’s website is pathmaui.org, and the organization also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts. At trial, PATH was represented by attorneys Tom Pierce, Peter Martin and Hayden Aluli.

PATH is requesting continued financial support from the public to protect the historic Haleakala Trail, as well as general supporters and members. Charitable donations are fully tax-deductible and may be made to 2525 Kahekili Highway, Wailuku, Hawai‘i 96793. 

OR, Go here to make a donation online using Paypal, or to get PATH’s mailing address. Make sure to encourage your friends to help out too.

 

SB2728 – Removes legal protections of public trails

Maui Group sent this testimony to the House Finance Committee: FINtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

We encourage members to email FINtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov opposing SB2728.


Maui Sierra Club requests that you kill SB2728. On Maui Public Access Trails Hawai’i (PATH) is in litigation to open a public trail that Haleakala Ranch is attempting to co-opt and close to the public. Maui Sierra Club supports PATH’s efforts to preserve this and other public rights of way.

One of the last bills signed into law by Queen Liliuokalani before the overthrow of the Hawaiian Government was the Highways Act of 1892. It remains on the books today in the form of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes 264-1(b). Through the Highways Act, the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i declared that any trail or other thoroughfare open, laid out or built by the government, or surrendered or abandoned by a land owner, was a public trail and owned by the government in fee simple. The ownership stays with the government forever, or until a resolution expressly giving up the trail is passed by the legislature. Large landowners, like Haleakala Ranch Company, are now wielding their substantial money and power to change the law through SB2728 and remove these public trails from the public.

SB2728 purports to “clarify that the legislature has the authority to determine a public trail.” This innocuous title is entirely misleading. The bill, if passed, would almost certainly mean the end to any ancient trail ever being made public ever again. In short, the bill is a free ride for large landowners–many who purchased properties in the 1800s knowing that they were encumbered by public trails. If this bill were to pass, every large landowner can almost be assured that the trails have become their private domain forever.

The Highways Act is working well and should not be changed at the behest of large landowners like Haleakala Ranch and Alexander & Baldwin.

Please kill this bill.