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Beauty and the peace

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    The path winds past trees.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Markers guide people along the paths.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    The Hokuala path sneaks through trees and brush.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    The Hokuala path offers great views.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Steve Arellanes of Lihue covers ground on the Hokuala walking path Tuesday.

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Jimmy Oyadomari on his morning walk Tuesday on the old Mokihana Golf Course that’s been opened to the public for walking, running and biking.

This may be the best-kept secret on Kauai, so I hesitate to write about.

In fact, one of the folks I stopped to talk to about this peaceful place on Tuesday declined to share any comments for the record, because he had already passed seven people that morning. Early this year, he added, there would have been no one. And now, he was seeing a few too many walkers and runners for his liking. He preferred it when it was just him, the nene and the egrets, certainly not pesky journalists.

I almost entirely agree.

Not many are aware of these quiet, serene grounds in the heart of Lihue, away from the traffic, and generally, other people. It’s mostly a sea of green — brush, trees, grass — with paved paths leading the way. Even a lagoon.

It is here I do much of my running. It is here we walk the dogs. It is here I sometimes stop to admire the beauty all around and think how blessed I am to be able to come here every day. I get to run here. How cool is this? Most days, the only noise is from the plane coming and going at the nearby Lihue Airport.

So, enough with the clues. Where is this utopia?

Closer than you think.

It’s the former Mokihana Golf Course, where Hokuala – a Timbers Resort development has opened up about five miles worth of paths. And the reason you might not know of it is that it’s not easy to find. There’s no large sign saying “Trail starts here.” There are really three key entry points, and one of them doesn’t really say where you’re going. Two of them have trail signs.

There are three basic loops, but you can mix things up with a few turns. Aloh‘i Trail is 2.7 miles. Leiu‘i Trail is 1.6 miles. Huna Trial is 0.6 miles. They were described by TGI in a previous article as “a combination of existing roads, cart paths and trail connections the team at Hokuala created.”

A restroom is ready, and eventually, picnic tables and benches could be added.

A foot race might even be held there in January, which would be brilliant.

This old course was closed for years, brush growing over the old golf cart paths, trees standing tall and proud. I recall discovering it before it had been cleared back a bit and open to the public. I ran the 3.25-road that circles the property, for years unaware of what was on the other side of all that thick brush.

The first day I ran here, it was raining hard. It was, as they say, another world. I pushed my way through some spots where brush had grown thick, nearly impassable, like something from Jurassic Park. I expected a dinosaur to pop out from behind the trees. I was in awe and wonder, excited to be on the run and exploring what appeared to be lost lands, worried at the same time I would get in some trouble for being there.

Gradually, the paths were cleared. The brush trimmed. Grass cut. It’s more open, inviting.

Give credit to the folks at Hokuala development, who started clearing the old golf cart path last year. The idea was simple: Open it for people to walk on that path and share in its natural wonder. Signs were installed for easier accessibility.

Still, for the most part, I run alone there. But others should know of this. Company is nice. More should come

They are. In small numbers, but they are coming.

My friend Jimmy Oyadomari walks in the area several times a week. He often cuts inside to the old golf course path, where he enjoys the peace, quiet and scenery. I found him there Tuesday, steady and strong, as usual, never without his hat.

“It’s therapeutic,” he said.

When I see Jimmy, I usually stop and we chat about life and how we’re doing. On days we don’t talk story, he offers a friendly wave.

Asked why he thought more people don’t come here, he said, “They don’t know too much about it.”

That’s changing.

Steve Arellanes of Lihue was wearing his Notre Dame visor with pride in the midst of a six-mile walk that took him on the path Tuesday.

Arellanes used to walk the 3.25-mile loop that circles the property, and even golfed the old course. Last year, he was on a walk with his wife when he saw a trailhead leading back, off the road.

“Let’s go check it out and see where it goes,” he told his wife.

So they did. And as Steve put it, they “just stumbled upon the path.” He keeps coming back. Since, on his days off, he likes to walk there for the same reasons as others — the beauty and the peace.

“I love it,” he said.

The course and trails are part of the 450-acre spot, behind the Kauai Marriott Resort, Timbers purchased for $60 million in January 2015, according to a previous TGI article.

Once construction is complete by 2020, Hokuala will include a hotel, single-family homes, condos, a restaurant and a golf course.

The trails will connect to Hokuala’s oceanfront development site — Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences.

The trails are open to all and designed to encourage exercise. Walking, running, biking, and walking dogs. No motorized vehicles are allowed. It’s amazing, really, to be so close to all the activity of Lihue, the traffic of Kapule Highway, the planes of Lihue Airport, and yet feel you are away from it all.

Try it. And if you see me, wave.

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