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Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, Big Island

Saturday, June 4, 2011, is the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day!   In recognition, a recent post in The National Parks of the Pacific blog highlighted the only National Trail in Hawaii, Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island of Hawaii.  This 175-mile trail runs from near the northern tip of the island, along the coast of Kona, around Ka Lae (South Point) and then back up along the coast till it reaches the border of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Along the way, it passes thru three of the four National Park sites on the island; Puukohola National Historic Site (near Kawaihae Harbor), often overlooked Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park (not far from the Kailua-Kona Airport),  and the much more well-known and visited Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (Place of Refuge) at Honauna.

Some special events have been scheduled for the day, including a one-hour guided tour at Puuhonua o Honaunau, from 9:30 am to 10:30 am.  Call (808) 328-2326 Ext.1241 for information.

There will be two 45-minutes-to-an-hour guided walks in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.  This is a short 1/2 mile, wheel-chair accessible, paved path.  No, you won’t be seeing any lava activity on this short walk.  Call for information (808) 985-6000.

From 9:30 am till 11:00 am, at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, hike with a park ranger from the park headquarters through lava fields along the coastline to see ancient fishponds, native birds, sea turtles and other sights.  You will also get to see one of the better preserved examples of petroglyphs.

For the more physically fit and those looking for more of a work out, the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are sponsoring a 5-mile hike leaving from Punaluu State Park, a black sand beach, along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.  The turn-around point is Kamehame, another black sand beach that is a primary nesting site for honu ‘ea (hawksbill turtles).  There is a fee for this hike, $50 for Friends members and $65 for non-members.  Students (K-12 and college with valid student ID) are half-price.  Call (808) 985-7373 or visit to register.

Punaluu State Park is located about 2-hours from the hotel area of Kailua-Kona.  You take Highway 11, Mamalahoa Highway, south till you past Ka Lae (South Point) and the southernmost town in the U.S.A., Naalehu.  You may want to stop at the Punaluu Bake Shop, which contrary to its name is located in Naalehu, to grab a bite to eat.  There are no places to eat between Naalehu and Punaluu.

I will end with my usual cautions; remember the sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a cooler of drinks, snacks and sturdy, toe-covering shoes!  This is not flip-flop friendly ground you will be trekking.  You will thank me later.

Fare Buzz

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