Hiking Adventure on the 1871 Trail in South Kona on Hawaii Island

1871 Trail Kona

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.

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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