Making Kalalau trail a safer place

KALALAU — The Friends of Kalalau Trail, a volunteer crew, is assisting with the rehabilitation of one of Kauai’s world famous features — the trail along the Napali Coast.

“Hiking the Kalalau Trail is an unforgettable experience and people should be able to enjoy this beautiful wilderness without being in danger due to the poor condition of the trail,” said volunteer Mark Hubbard. “It’s tremendously rewarding to go out with the trail building crew and in just one morning help transform a trail section from degraded and hazardous to smooth.”

Twice a month the professional crew hired by the contractor Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC welcomes volunteers to assist with trail rehabilitation between the trailhead at Ke‘e Beach and Hanakapi‘ai Beach. Volunteers learn about wilderness trail building, and contribute their labor to improving this prized asset.

This capital improvements project to rehabilitate the two miles of trail between Ke‘e Beach and Hanakapi‘ai Beach is funded by a State grant-in-aid authored by Senator Gary Hooser and supported by all of Kaua‘i’s state representatives and approved by Governor Linda Lingle. The grant was awarded to Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance in 2008, and is being fulfilled under contract with Pono Pacific Land Management, LLC in collaboration with Native Hawaiian Conservation and Hiking Expeditions. The trail rehabilitation work will be completed by the end of this year, and a strong volunteer component has been recognized as a valuable and necessary component to finish the project on schedule and encourage future public stewardship of the trail.

“The first mile of the Kalalau Trail is used by up to five hundred people a day in the summer,” said Native Hawaiian Conservation and Hiking Expeditions crew leader Charlie Cobb-Adams. “Every day as we’re working on the trail we see parents climbing up steep sections with babies in slings or back backs. One slip on these slick stones and there could be serious injury to the child. When we’re done, we will have built trail features to fix those dangerous spots, while still leaving it a challenging hiking experience.  Bringing volunteers onto the trail gets those fixes in place much sooner.”

The Kalalau Trail is not only used by visitors, but also by residents marveling at the natural splendors on our island’s North Shore and hunters who help control the feral goat and pig populations.

Upcoming volunteer workdays are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. March 20, April 3, April 17, May 8 and May 22 at the Ke‘e Beach trailhead. Volunteers are asked to pre-register for the workdays by e-mailing kalalautrail@ponopacific.com or calling 628-7545. Special arrangements can be made to accommodate groups, and carpooling from Kapa‘a is available.

More information on this project is available at Kaua‘i Planning & Action Alliance’s Web site www.kauainetwork.org, or by calling the project manager at 632-2005.

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