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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Koke'e will get new trailheads, parking sites

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i State parks officials hope to reroute the starts of several Koke'e State Park trails so that hikers can leave their cars along paved roads and immediately access the trails, rather than having to drive down muddy rutted paths.

"We plan to bring the trails to the parking areas," said Kaua'i parks chief Wayne Souza. The parks office is preparing an environmental assessment for the work, which is planned on sites that are largely or entirely vegetated with introduced rather than native plants.

In connection with that, parks officials and volunteers from the forest conservation group Hui O Laka are planning the construction of three new gravel parking areas, using about $70,000 from a larger Hawai'i Tourism Authority grant for creating an integrated trail system in the park. Two of the gravel parking areas will serve as new trailheads.

At the road leading from Koke'e Road to the Department of Education's Koke'e Discovery Center, existing parking areas will be expanded by 7,800 square feet, and the start of the Water Tank Trail will be rerouted to the parking area, so hikers don't walk through the Discovery Center, said Hui O Laka's Marsha Erickson.

Nearby, a parking area of 11,375 square feet will be created above the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow, in an area across Koke'e Road that is overgrown with kikuyu grass. It is not a trailhead parking site, but will serve as overflow parking for events at the meadow, which fronts the park headquarters.

At the existing Pu'u Hinahina Lookout, the project will add 9,500 feet of gravel parking. The existing but little-used Canyon Trail extension, which can be started at this lookout, will become the main entrance to the Waimea Canyon Trail a scenic walk through native forest, along the rim of the canyon and to a pool in the Koke'e Stream at Waipo'o Falls.

Most residents now park along the highway and walk down dirt roads to get to the Canyon Trail.

The goal, Erickson said, is to avoid road-walking and allow them to use forest trails for the entire length of the hike.

"When it's finished, our problem will be education, since every guidebook directs people down the dirt road," she said.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.