I’ve been hiking the trail to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse my entire life.
Located on the eastern-most point of O‘ahu — where I’ve spent most of my adult life — this mile-long paved trail takes you to an overlook above the historic red-roofed lighthouse, built in 1909 on this 600-foot sea cliff. The offshore islets are wildlife sanctuaries for Hawaiian seabirds such as the ‘iwa and frigate bird. On clear days, you can see Moloka‘i and Lānaʻi in the distance. And if you’re lucky, between November and May, you might catch a glimpse of the humpback whales the migrate past Makapu‘u to warmer waters.
I love this trail for a lot of reasons: it’s paved and easy, there’s lots of parking, and the views of the Ka‘iwi Coastline and the Pacific Ocean are simply breathtaking.
Oh, and it’s perfect for my dogs.
It’s one of the few state trails that allows dogs on-leash — and I’ve taken my dogs up there since they were puppies at least once a week.
In fact, hiking up Makapu‘u has become part of my weekly routine.
So hearing about its closure for repair work was incredibly distressing. Where would I take my dogs now??? I was in a panic.
For about a month, the trail was closed during the weekday — when we normally go — and open on weekends. We had to find other trails to hit in the meantime.
But the other week, as we drove by, I was astonished to see about three dozen cars parked along Kalaniana‘ole Highway. Apparently, the trail had been opened during the weekdays — and I hadn’t known about it.
So I quickly pulled over, leashed up the dogs, and headed up the familiar trail to the lighthouse.
I’ve been back several times since then, and the work has been slowly progressing.
Repair to the trail started in February and will continue through July (though one of the maintenance guys told me the improvement project might stretch out to the end of the year). According to the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, the trail should only be closed on 25 days during the six-month project, always on weekdays. The parking lot and trail will be open during regular park hours on weekends — 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and until 7:45 p.m. after April 1.
Five new lookouts and rest stops will be constructed along the trail and in locations that are already popular stopping points. They will include interpretative signage, viewing scopes (yay!) and benches.
The existing two lookouts at the summit will be renovated to include new railings, stairs and concrete walkways.
Over the years — it’s been around for more than 100 years! — the stacked rock walls and walkways have become severely eroded and unstable. More than 400 hikers and bicyclists use this trail every day. So sections will be reconstructed, new drainage culverts will be installed, and the walkways will be repaved.
(There won’t be any restrooms, though. Cost and community protest are the main reasons.)
It’s hard to tell if work is progressing fast enough that the trail will reopen in July. And so far, I can’t find much in terms of updates on DLNR’s website.
All I know is that the trail will be closed from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 and Friday, March 27. Future closure dates — all tentative — are July 20 to 24 and July 27 and 28. But that all depends on whether the work is on schedule.
Until then, I’ll keep driving by and checking. And I’ll post updates on my Twitter (@thedailydish).
And look on Instagram (@catherinetoth) for more shots like this one above! That’s when you’ll know it’s open!