Appendix: Hawaii

View of Honolulu from the summit, Diamond Head trail


The core of the Fifty Trail is a continuous footpath. But it also has a mandate to showcase each of the federal jurisdictions in the United States, so a hike in Hawaii is considered a necessary component of the overall trail.  You could call it an extension of the Western Terminus. 

The one unit of the National Trails System in Hawaii is the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island.

This is a coastal route that basically circles the island.  Ala Kahakai simply translates to 'Coastal trail.'  It passes some of the poshest Luxury Resorts in the state and beaches ranked consistently as top ten in the world.  (Shown here are Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach.)

As well as remote undeveloped beaches.  This is Makalawena Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park--a mile walk from the nearest parking.

and coastal sights of all sorts, including a dual blowhole in a very remote section amid an 1801 lava flow and what I estimate to be the coolest sea arch on the island.

The Ala Kahakai Trail is the most ancient trail in the US National Trails System, dating back as far as 1000 years.  Through fields of jagged lava, the Polynesians laid down surf-smoothed stepping stones to ease the way for barefoot travel.

Ancient stepping stones through 'a'a' lava near Nawaikulua Point with Mauna Kea in the distance

The trail is nominally 175 miles long, but not all of it has been preserved.  The most significant continuous section that can be hiked runs 41.2 miles between Honokohau Small Boat Harbor near the Kona airport north to the Pu'ukohola National Historical Park at Kauaihae Harbor. There also is a parallel inland commerce/horse trail built with European influence in the mid 1800's, called the King's Road, by which the hiker can do some loops to take the total up to the recommended 50 miles.

The map below shows a series of day hikes that I strung together in the 'epicenter' of this segment of continuous foot trail, some ancient and some running through posh ultra-luxury resort properties.

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The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is the trail that ticks all the boxes of the Fifty Trail mission, but the other Islands can lay claim to participation too.  For now, the trail route and its length will be left to the discretion of the hiker.


A series of informational pages on the Ala Kahakai Trail:

Hanakapiai Falls in August 2009, the day after Hurricane Felicia soaked Kauai


Hiker’s Choice of trail and distance. Total of Fifty Miles recommended in keeping with the other segments. Here is a list of one or two of the most accessible and well-known of each Island’s trails.

Big Island: As mentioned, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.  Perhaps also the available trails around Kilauea Crater Rim at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The new eruption, April to August 2018, and collapse of the Kilauea crater have caused closures and the situation remains uncertain.

Eruptions in Leilani Estates 4 May 2018, after brand new fissures opened in the East Rift Zone
Major output of lava in the same area, near Pahoa, as seen on 21 May 2018.

Maui: The Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls (if open) near the famous Seven Sacred Pools (that trail is apparently indefinitely closed)

Lanai: The Munro Trail

Molokai: The Kalaupapa Peninsula trail—only land access to that historic peninsula, a former leper colony and site of ministry of Father (now saint) Damian. Don’t take the mules. Walk it, start early, and stop at the broad, pristine, virtually unused sand beach at the bottom. Also see my more comprehensive Molokai Hiking report.

Oahu: Manoa Falls and Diamond Head Trails, short, close to Honolulu, and popular.

Kauai: Sleeping Giant Mountain trail and the Kalalau Trail along the remote Na Pali Coast, go at least to Hanakapiai Beach, and for an adventure hike the primitive trail up the stream a couple miles to Hanakapiai Falls.

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