Development Near Popular Kaloko Mauka Hiking Trail Leads to Spats, Vandalism, and Threatening Signs – Big Island Now

David Barnett points out private land on which he works. Photos by Tom Hasslinger, Big Island Now

Confusion over property boundaries in Kaloko Mauka pitted a handful of hikers and neighbors against a pair of landowners who wanted to begin building homes on their private parcels.

The problem, in this case, was that the private property sits directly next to the public hiking trail at the end of Makahi Street in the rural, forested area.  And the private parcels have sat vacant and untouched for more than 20 years, so long that they’ve blended in nicely — almost too nicely — to the beginning of the Makāula ‘O ‘Oma Trail in the Honua‘ula Forest Reserve, a lush, peaceful hiking destination 10 miles outside of Kailua-Kona. 

The confusion has led to heated confrontations, vandalized equipment, online back-and-forths, and  hung signs threatening to shoot hikers.

“I found myself looking behind my back, thinking, ‘Am I going to get shot?” said Lia Cary, an avid hiker of Kaloko Mauka, who came across the sign one day late in the fall warning hikers what they could expect should they trespass onto private land. “That sign felt, literally, that someone spit in my eye.”

Cary has been hiking the Makāula ‘O ‘Oma Trail for the last seven years. The cloud forest, she said, offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature at its finest. The 200- to 700-foot elevation gain through the vast ecosystems and ʻōhiʻa and hāpuʻu tree fern forest offers a feeling of escape, all while still being close to town and the ocean.


“It’s an amazing place,” Cary said. “Kaloko has a very strong presence.”


But when she came across the sign while hiking one day back in October, she felt unnerved. Even unsafe. She had noticed fences and construction equipment up near Makahi Street where the trailhead was, but the threatening sign was something completely different.

“It was scary, but more so, it was disturbing – a perfect example of how colonialism is still alive on the  island,” she said. “To put that up there is really tone-deaf to the history of this place (Hawai‘i).”

“Where’s the …….


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