Maunawili Falls Trail, battered by crowds of hikers, to close for 2-year repair project

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 4:28 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 5:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maunawili Falls Trail is a treasure in Windward Oahu. There’s a lush forest and at the end, a waterfall perfect for any photo opportunity.

“It was amazing. It was totally worth it. We went in there thinking we were going to jump and we did,” said hiker Ross Co.

But neighbors say the trail’s popularity has left them overrun by hikers.

“There’s 1,000 people a weekend that use this little trail. It’s really buss up,” said Chris Nakamatu, of the Maunawili Estates Community Association.

“I can fill Wikipedia with stuff that has gone on for all of these years,” she added.

She described illegal parking, trespassing and more.

“Diapers being left, shishi in their yard, sitting on their wall having a picnic, it gets to be like a mini war zone,” said Nakamatsu.

On the trail itself, there’s been illegal dumping and vandalism.

One of the historic sites along the trail is the Irwin House, which was purchased in 1893. The ranch was a hub for the community. But over the years, it’s been neglected and covered in graffiti.

“It’s time for a reboot,” said Nakamatsu.

On Thursday, Maunawili Falls Trails will be closed for a two-year repair project by the state and private landowner to preserve the historic and cultural sites near Queen’s Bath.

The work also includes the construction of parking and comfort stations.

Windward City Council member Esther Kiaaina says she doesn’t expect people to stop coming on Thursday ― so she’s calling for a ban on unpermitted parking in the neighborhood during the closure.

“I will be proposing to the Department of Transportation Services that we institute a restricted parking zone. We have that in Kalihi now for impacted communities,” said Kiaaina.

“I think that this is the best way to balance the community’s needs with those that are trespassing.”

Neighbors say they support measures to control the crowds and revive the trail. And starting from Thursday’s closure, they’ll be watching for illegal hikers.

The area at the entrance of the trail is privately owned by HRT Realty, which is affiliated with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. DLNR says enforcement will be up to the landowner.

“HRT Realty fully supports the DLNR initiative to create a long-term management plan to protect the Maunawili Falls area and ensure proper ongoing maintenance of the hiking trail,” said HRT Realty in a statement.

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