While the Wai Koa Loop Trail has been popular for years with residents and visitors alike, now it’s an official and ongoing fixture on the North Shore.
The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust has stepped in for the preservation of the trail and access to the historic Stone Dam, which means the nonprofit will now be protecting the land that hosts the Stone Dam and Wai Koa Loop Trail, holding it in perpetuity.
“The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust is excited that this trail which provides significant scenic and outdoor recreational opportunities for Kauai’s residents will be preserved and continue to provide for the health and well-being of the people of Kauai,” said HILT CEO Kawika Burgess.
Burgess said HILT worked alongside Joan Porter, owner of Wai Koa Plantation and the land where the trail tracks, in order to achieve the agreement, and Porter said the arrangement will preserve a place her late husband deeply loved.
“Wai Koa was very special to my husband, Bill, and I know he would be deeply grateful for the opportunity to conserve it in perpetuity,” Porter said.
The 4.5-mile hiking trail is already a popular staple for those looking to take a stroll in the Kilauea area, and is known as being a low-to-moderate-level hike that takes between two and four hours.
Those who take the wander get striking views of the Namahana Mountains, the Kilauea forest, as well as the largest mahogany plantation in the United States — and the trail is free to hike.
Two trailheads lead to the Wai Koa Loop; one at Common Ground that’s closed due to reconstruction of Kahiliholo Road and a detour road, and one at Anaina Hou Community Park. It’s recommended to take the Anaina Hou trailhead, and hikers need to sign a waiver at the front desk.
Anaina Hou’s Collin Darrell says the trail is closed and will be for a few weeks while staff works to clear fallen trees from recent storms that brought high winds to Kauai.
“There was some damage to the mini golf as well, but we were able to open that back up fully on Tuesday,” he said.
Even when it reopens, the trail will be altered because of reconstruction projects that were triggered when April flooding caused a sinkhole in Kahiliholo Road and wiped out portions of Stone Dam.
Jennifer Luck, managing director of the Porter Trust, said the trust is taking care of the cost of reconstruction of Stone Dam, but declined to provide the expected cost of that project.
The portion of Wai Koa Loop Trail that leads to Stone Dam has been blocked off, and signs reroute pedestrians through the rest of the trail.
“It could take a year to get it back open,” she said Friday. “It’s all repair work from damage caused by the April floods. There were some other repairs we had to do, and now we’re tackling Stone Dam.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-052 or firstname.lastname@example.org.