Hike Hawaii: 1871 Trail, A Walk Back Over 100 Years on Hawaii Island

1871 Trail

Do you love to hike? The 1871 trail is part of the larger Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail. This trail is also importantly the “alanui aupuni” the Hawaiian Kingdom government road, that you can still see as the “King’s Trail” in North Kona/South Kohala or the “Māmalahoa Trail” in North Kona. This portion is located right outside of the Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Park in South Kona.

Hike Hawaii

As part of a video series we have created on hikes in Hawaii, and yes, we had to go on each one and spend a few hours to bring them to you, so you know we know our stuff, this hike has very little elevation gain, but can be very warm, so go early in the morning.

On the video, I spoke about the trail being used as pack trails so horses would not need guidance due to the built up rocks on each side and that donkeys on other trails could go alone.

Here is the info from the National Park Service about the trail: Trails of this type are often referred to as “two-horse trails” because the trail width was built to easily accommodate two horses. In addition, curbstones lined the path helping to delineate the trail so that pack animals could follow it without constant guidance from the rider. This type of trail was constructed during the nearly 80 year period lasting from 1841-1918. In 1918 the trail section north of Hōnaunau was improved for wheeled traffic; however, the section south to Ho’okena was never modified for motorized vehicles.

You will see in the video an impressive lava rock ramp and a bench at the top overlooking Alahaka Bay. The ramp is called the Alahaka Ramp, an impressive feat of engineering that provides access to the Keanae’e Cliffs and the ancient village of Ki’ilae. Mark Twain called Keanae’e Cliffs “a petrified Niagra,” and prior to the construction of the ramp, access to Ki’ilae was by ladder or rope only. I was actually somewhat mesmerized by the lava seriously looking like water pouring over the top of the cliffs, but locked in time and black rock. Twain’s description is right on.

If you go, bring plenty of water and try to go in the winter/spring to avoid the heat and the pervasive scent of goat!

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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