Trail Maintenance (Part 2)

I went hiking up the Nounou East trail again (see part 1), and this time took my camera to document the trail maintenance and reconstruction that was done recently.

In the lower parts where the erosion wasn’t as bad, they mostly cleared branches away from the trail and piled them in any shortcuts that people had created. In one place, they created a wall of branches almost woven together (there weren’t many shortcuts there, so I wonder if it wasn’t some sort of training or practice):


As much as I’m glad for all the trail maintenance, they really blocked every single shortcut, even this very safe and secure one that I have been known to take …ahem… occasionally. It had plenty of rocks and no erosion, so it was like a second trail. You can also see the leaves on the cut branches turning from green to brown. In a month, this will be a big pile of branches and not look very natural.

From below:


From above:


I think one reason that people create some shortcuts is that the trail is not very consistent. Some areas are steep, and in other places there are long, flat switchbacks that take time and make little uphill progress. In some places the shortcuts were on rocks and didn’t create a problem, in others, they were creating erosion and needed to be fixed and blocked.

Here’s an example of a switchback that needed fixing, and the maintenance crew did a great job. Now it’s nice and regular, not too flat and not too steep, and the repair should last a long time.

Before (from part 1):





The next switchback had a badly eroded shortcut right below it. This one was a bit dangerous because people going downhill would see the shortcut and take it before they saw the regular trail, but the shortcut got steep with roots and rocks and water erosion. Before (from above):


After (from the side), the eroded part to the left is filled with logs and then blocked with branches (out of view to the left), so people stay on the good trail now:


They also worked on the big rock step to make it a bit easier. You can see the light gray color in the rock where they removed some chunks and added the wooden step. Oddly, the upper part wasn’t too bad because they had already worked on it years before, but they didn’t do any improvements to the lower part (bottom of the picture), which is now the hardest.


Above the rock step, they also improved the trail in other ways. In one place they built rock wall in a switchback. In several flat places they laid logs across the trail for drainage, and they also removed some water gullies to make the trail nice and flat again.




Here was the worst spot on the Nounou East trail, a short section where you had to hop over the washed out trail. Before:


After, all fixed up, from about the same spot:


Here’s another switchback, right before reaching what would be the “elbow” of the Sleeping Giant. They graded it, blocked the shortcut above and below it, and made it easy to stay on the trail. One small gripe is that they cut down the tree that used to be right next to the trail (see stump below). It was nice to hold on to, and its roots probably help hold the trail against erosion:


Once again, thank you to the state DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) and/or their contractors who fixed up the trail.

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  1. Trevor says:

    Thanks for posting to your blog again. I enjoy your work.

  2. Katherine says:

    Do you have any recent information about transport from the airport to the trailhead. I read that the bus doesn’t allow metal-framed backpacks. Is there an alternate mode of transport that fits a low-budget? Thanks!

  3. Andy says:

    Hi Katherine,

    You must be referring to the Kalalau trailhead, but no, I don’t know of any updates. You can get a taxi or perhaps the shuttle (, but they’ll be expensive. The easiest solution is just to rent a car and leave it parked at the Haena Beach park 1 mile from the trailhead.

    For low-budget, you can try the rent-a-dent place called Island Cars (, but I’ve heard mixed reviews of the place. Regular rentals can be cheaper if you go off-season and get a weekly rate, especially if you rent through Discount Hawaii Car Rental ( or have a Costco membership. I have no affiliation with these places, just businesses I have used or heard of.

    For low, low budget and assuming you have plenty of time, you can walk out of the airport to the main road and hitch-hike.

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