(BIVN) – Two trails in the Kahuku Unit of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park that were closed to protect native ʻōhiʻa trees from a deadly fungus will reopen on Thursday, May 13.
From the National Park Service:
The park constructed a new Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) decontamination station to allow entry into the previously quarantined upper Kahuku paddocks. Hikers must walk through the gate along the main road to access Kona and Glover trails, and will be required to sanitize their footwear to remove fungal spores and mud. Research by ROD scientists and park staff highlights the importance of such practices to prevent the spread of this terrible disease. The public is asked to do their part to protect native forests by checking their personal items and vehicles for invasive pests before recreating in natural areas, and by following sanitation protocols.
“We are so pleased to welcome visitors back to Kona and Glover trails and to the Visitor Contact Station where they can once again safely engage with our rangers,” said Kahuku Manager Travis Heinrich in a news release. “Many in our community have waited patiently for this and we mahalo you for your understanding. We urge everyone to comply with park policies to keep each other safe from COVID, and ʻōhiʻa trees safe from ROD,” Heinrich said.
From the National Park Service:
The Kahuku Visitor Contact Station (VSC) will also reopen Thursday to visitors who recreate responsibly and follow COVID safety guidelines. Visitors are required to wear a mask in the VSC and other park service buildings. Masks are only required outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Kahuku Road above Upper Palm Trail to the ROD Quarantine Gate is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles. The road past the gate is closed to vehicles.
Hikers need to account for the 1.2-mile (1.9 km) one-way walk from the ROD Quarantine Gate to the lower Glover and Kona trailheads, a lovely trek through a wooded landscape with water tanks and cattle corrals that are reminders of the paniolo days at Kahuku. A picnic area en route to the trailheads offers panoramic views of Ka Lae (South Point) and the Kaʻū coast. Native forest birds and the rare mamo lehua (yellow flowering ʻōhiʻa trees) are sure signs of spring in Kahuku.
Glover Trail is a 3.2-mile (5 km) loop with a 320-foot (98 m) elevation change. Add in the 2.4 miles (3.8 km) to and from the trail head for a total of 5.6 miles (8.8 km) round trip. This hike culminates on the edge of a huge pit crater with a pristine Hawaiian rainforest protected within its sheer walls.
Kona Trail is 4.6-mile (7.3 km) loop with 520-foot (158 m) elevation change. Add in the 2.4 miles (3.8 km) to and from the trail head for a total of 7 miles (11.1 km) round trip. Relics of Kahuku’s ranching era, pasture land and the 1887 lava flow define this trek.
The Kahuku Forest Trail Guide is available at the lower trailhead across from the Visitor Contact Station. Both the Kona and Glover trail hikes require an early start. The Kahuku Unit is open Thursday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and entrance is always free. Plan your Kahuku visit on the park website.