Concern grows over the future of hiking on Oahu

Local News

On Friday afternoon, a 27-year-old female hiker died after falling 500 feet off the Makapuu Tom Tom Trail in East Oahu.

The tragic accident is just one of many search and rescue attempts firefighters have responded to this year alone.

Oahu hiking clubs fear the recent increase in accidents will cause landowners and the state to close down more trails.

Friday’s fatality happened on Kamehame Ridge, also known as the Makapuu Tom Tom Trail, a Kamehameha Schools property.

Landowners have already cracked down on websites featuring the popular trail.

Two hiking clubs on Oahu say the over-exposure of these popular trails are leading to the trails “downfall.”

Seasoned hikers within those clubs say social media brought the allure of Oahu’s trails to the mainstream.

“The social media in the last several years has opened up a new world of information to people who may live in Oklahoma,” said Ralph Valentino, a member of the Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club.

By doing a simple a hash tag search, you’ll discover hundreds of posts on the Tom Tom Trail, with many taking photos at the “puka”, which they find a great photo opportunity.

“It’s the guys with the Go-Pro cameras,” said Randy Ching, a hiker with the Sierra Club. “They go up to these really dangerous places, and they upload it to these websites. People go there and they say, ‘Wow! That’s amazing! I gotta do this.'”

Because the Tom Tom trail is on Kamehameha Schools property, it is considered off-limits.

The clubs may be glad that more people are hiking, but they’re not happy that inexperienced hikers are putting themselves in danger, which are forcing landowners to cut off access to popular trails.

“It’s a very, very sad state of affairs that more and more trails are closed to access. We have been battling that for years now,” said Valentino.

Valentino says if this continues, the state could have less than a dozen hiking trails open to the public.

“It’s a shame, because these trails have been around longer than they owned the property,” said Valentino. “They’re cutting off a beautiful part of Hawaii that people come here for.”

The hiking club members say they understand why landowners are putting their foot down, but it doesn’t mean they like it.

“It’s dangerous if you’re not careful,” said Ching. “And you can say that about any trail on this island.”

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