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NATURE

TRAILS
Hiking Biking

HIKING TRAILS

(See also Guided Hikes)

MAUNAHUI - MAKAKUPAIA TRAIL
Na Ala Hele Demonstration Trail
(Central Molokai)
A rugged trail along approximately 17.5 miles of forest reserve access road with an elevation range from sea level to 3,700 feet. Recommended for experienced hikers and four-wheel drive vehicles only.

Route:

  • The trail starts at the Maunahui Forest Reserve access road and Highway 46, gains in elevation until it reaches the Waikolu Lookout and then descends via the Makakupaia Forest Reserve access road to Highway 45 at One Alii Beach Park on the south shore.
  • Note: The Makakupaia Section is for foot traffic only. You cannot drive this section.
Vegetation:
  • Vegetation in the lower elevations of the Maunahui area consists of dry land kiawe forest, koa haole, and various grasses. As one gains in elevation, the landscape first opens into pastures containing silk oak, ironwood, guava, black wattle and eucalyptus trees, and then becomes a closed canopy eucalyptus forest as one enters the Molokai Forest Reserve.
  • The trail continues to climb until it finally reaches the Waikolu Lookout and Picnic Grove. The Lookout offers a magnificent view of Waikolu Valley. (Note: the view from the Lookout is sometimes obscured in the afternoon when tradewind clouds envelop the upper Waikolu Canyon.)
  • Dramatic changes in vegetation can be observed as one descends from the intersection of Maunahui and Makakupaia access roads. Rainfall can vary by 75 inches during the year between this road intersection and the southern coast. Native mesic rain forest at the trail's peak elevation (3,500 ft) quickly changes from moist native shrub-lands to plantation woodlands to open, dry scrub-lands along the Makakupaia access road.
  • The final descent from the Forest Reserve boundary long the Makakupaia road in Hawaiian Homelands property is rocky, dusty and dry. Lowland non-native shrub and grasslands dominate with kiawe trees and some scattered native dry land vegetation; prime habitat for axis deer and game birds.
Camping:
  • Camping is allowed at the Waikolu Lookout with a permit issued through the Maui District's Forestry and Wildlife Office in Wailuku on Maui (see Camping). Camping is not permitted in the adjacent Nature Conservancy's Kamakou Preserve. There is no drinking water at Waikolu.
  • Camping is also allowed at One Alii County Park, where there are bathroom and camping facilities near the shoreline. A permit is required and can be obtained from the Molokai District Dept. of Parks and Recreation (see Camping).
Note:
  • During rainy periods, the road may become impassable. Along the trail are spectacular views of Molokai's southern coastline, dramatic valleys, waterfalls, and contrasting landscapes.
  • The area is rich in scenic, scientific, educational, and recreational value for people of all ages. A well-known historic site in the Forest Reserve, the famous Sandalwood Measuring pit or "Lua Na Moku Iliahi", lies adjacent to Maunahui road.
  • There is no drinking water available along route.
  • Open fires are strictly prohibited.
  • Portions of the road pass through private lands and Hawaiian Home Lands. Wandering off the road or trespassing on these lands is prohibited.


PEPEOPAE TRAIL
(East Molokai)
Distance: 3 miles (Round Trip)
Access:
12 miles down a rough dirt road, access to this trail is limited to experienced drivers with 4 wheel drive vehicles. The trail is under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Nature Conservancy Kamakou Preserve. For more information and directions, please contact the Conservancy's Molokai office at 808-553-5236.
Route:
The trail climbs through dense native cloudforest to Pepeopae Bog and ends at a scenic overlook into Pelekunu Valley. A narrow raised wooden boardwalk and platform has been constructed to eliminate trampling damage to the trail and the fragile bog ecosystem.


KAMAKOU PRESERVE
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY OF HAWAII

Note: The Kamakou Preserve is open to the public but the preserve is located in a remote mountainous area of northeast Molokai and reaching it requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and excellent driving skills. For more information, please call the Conservancy's Molokai staff at 808-553-5236.
(East Molokai)
The Nature Conservancy's literature states:

  • The rain forest of Kamakou Preserve (2,774 acres) lies near the summit of Molokai's highest mountain. Here you will find more than 250 species of Hawaiian plants - at least 219 of which can be found nowhere else in the world. This lush rain forest is also home to countless native insects, supporting a unique array of birds. The last known sightings of the extremely rare Molokai thrush (oloma'o) and Molokai creeper (kakawahie) were in this forest region, and the vivid green 'amakihi can still be seen, as can the 'apapane and the Hawaiian owl (pueo).
  • Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers lead a monthly hike along a narrow boardwalk through Kamakou Preserve. Hike leaders will meet you at the Molokai airport at 8:30 am, serve as interpretive guides throughout the hike, and return you to the airport by 3:30 pm. Advance reservations and a deposit are required. Space is limited and the hikes are often booked several months in advance. For more information, please call the Conservancy's Molokai staff at 808-553-5236 or visit their Web site.
MOOMOMI PRESERVE
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY OF HAWAII

Note: The Moomomi Preserve is open to the public but reaching it requires a 4-wheel drive and a Nature Conservancy issued permit. For more information, please call the Conservancy's Molokai staff at 808-553-5236.
(West Molokai)
At first glance, the dunes of Moomomi appear nearly barren. However, in addition to the rare coastal species that grow at Moomomi, and the numerous Hawaiian archaeological sites around Moomomi Bay, the Nature Conservancy literature states:
  • Deposits of bird bones reveal that the dunes were once home to at least 30 bird species, about one-third of which have since become extinct: a sea eagle, a falconing owl, a flightless ibis, and a giant flightless duck. The pueo (Hawaiian owl) is one of the few native land birds that can still be observed regularly at Moomomi. Native shorebirds, like sanderlings and plovers, and seabirds, like the great frigatebird ('iwa) can also be seen along the preserve shoreline.
  • Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers lead a monthly hike through this beach dune preserve. Hike leaders will pick you up at the Molokai airport at 8:30 am, serve as interpretive guides throughout the hike, and return you to the airport by 3:30 pm. Advance reservations and a deposit are required. Space is limited and the hikes are often booked several months in advance. Please call the Molokai office for more information at 808-553-5236 or visit their Web site.
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BIKING TRAILS

MOUNTAIN BIKING IN MOLOKAI'S FOREST RESERVES - TRAILS AND ROADS
Respect, Enjoy, and Conserve our Forest Resources
Here are some ways to show that you care about your sport.
  • Stay on the designated trails and roads. Riding off the trail/road destroys vegetation and can cause erosion. Know where you're permitted to ride and where you're not. Respect private property and closed areas.
  • Always be courteous when you pass hikers and hunters on the trail or other vehicles on dirt roads. If hunters have dogs with them, stop your bike and let the hunters gather their dogs before you proceed.
  • When you meet a horseback rider, go slowly and stop on the outside of the trail. Take off your helmet and say hello. Speak in a calm, normal voice. The horse needs to recognize you as a human. Avoid any sudden movements.
  • It is recommended that riders stay on the designated roads, rather than riding on foot trails. Listed trails are open to bikes but should not be ridden when the trail is wet. Bicycle tires can cause serious soil erosion and deteriorate the ecosystem. Some listed trails are steep and can be very dangerous to both the rider and hikers.
MAUNAHUI - MAKAKUPAIA TRAIL
Na Ala Hele Demonstration Trail
(Central Molokai)
A rugged trail along approximately 17.5 miles of forest reserve access road with an elevation range from sea level to 3,700 feet. Recommended for experienced hikers and four-wheel drive vehicles only. Open to bikers but please STAY ON THE TRAIL.

Route:
  • The trail starts at the Maunahui Forest Reserve access road and Highway 46, gains in elevation until it reaches the Waikolu Lookout and then descends via the Makakupaia Forest Reserve access road to Highway 45 at One Alii Beach Park on the south shore.
  • Note: The Makakupaia Section is for foot traffic only. You cannot drive this section.
Vegetation:
  • Vegetation in the lower elevations of the Maunahui area consists of dry land kiawe forest, koa haole, and various grasses. As one gains in elevation, the landscape first opens into pastures containing silk oak, ironwood, guava, black wattle and eucalyptus trees, and then becomes a closed canopy eucalyptus forest as one enters the Molokai Forest Reserve.
  • The trail continues to climb until it finally reaches the Waikolu Lookout and Picnic Grove. The Lookout offers a magnificent view of Waikolu Valley. (Note: the view from the Lookout is sometimes obscured in the afternoon when tradewind clouds envelop the upper Waikolu Canyon.)
  • Dramatic changes in vegetation can be observed as one descends from the intersection of Maunahui and Makakupaia access roads. Rainfall can vary by 75 inches during the year between this road intersection and the southern coast. Native mesic rain forest at the trail's peak elevation (3,500 ft) quickly changes from moist native shrub-lands to plantation woodlands to open, dry scrub-lands along the Makakupaia access road.
  • The final descent from the Forest Reserve boundary long the Makakupaia road in Hawaiian Homelands property is rocky, dusty and dry. Lowland non-native shrub and grasslands dominate with kiawe trees and some scattered native dry land vegetation; prime habitat for axis deer and game birds.
Note:
  • During rainy periods, the road may become impassable.
  • Along the trail are spectacular views of Molokai's southern coastline, dramatic valleys, waterfalls, and contrasting landscapes.
  • The area is rich in scenic, scientific, educational, and recreational value for people of all ages.
  • A well-known historic site in the Forest Reserve, the famous Sandalwood Measuring pit or "Lua Na Moku Iliahi", lies adjacent to Maunahui road.
  • There is no drinking water available along route.
  • Open fires are strictly prohibited.
  • Portions of the road pass through private lands and Hawaiian Home Lands. Wandering off the road or trespassing on these lands is prohibited.
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