Hiking website bloggers claim free speech to write about illegal trail

Local News

On Friday, landowners, fed up with all the foot traffic for “Dead Man’s Catwalk,” asked various hiking websites to take down posts promoting the popular East Oahu trail and threatened further action if nothing was done.

KHON2 spoke with an official with one of the groups who own the trail’s property. They blame social media on the increase of trespassers, saying their focus is getting people to change habits and respect property.

Even though the message on the signs are loud and clear, they haven’t stopped hikers from getting past the gate. And it’s all to get to the top to see a beautiful, sweeping vista of the ocean.

Hundreds of hikers reportedly trespass on the property on any given day, more so on weekends. But a guard at the site said weekend numbers have gone down significantly.

It’s still not enough for landowners, who recently sent out copies of a cease-and-desist letter to various websites who posted about the popular “Dead Man’s Catwalk,” also known as the Kamehame Ridge trail.

In the letter, landowners say a woman recently broke her ankle while hiking on their property. They urge website owners to take down photos and directions, and threatened further action if they don’t get a response within 14 days from Friday.

Crystal Evans of HikingHawaii808.com responded that “even if these websites stopped putting pictures up, if they weren’t around, you’re going to have someone posting a picture, posting a hike, no matter what.”

She added, however, that “I definitely see both sides of it. If it was my private property, I wouldn’t want someone getting hurt and suing me.

“It’s hard, because you have real hikers like myself, and then you have hikers who aren’t prepared and giving the rest of us a bad name, and that’s where the problem is.”

Coty Gonzales of the website Exploration: Hawaii received a letter as well, and said he’s happy to work with groups on improving hiking safety in Hawaii. While he took down directions to the illegal hike from his site on his own months ago, the photos remain.

He says, along with other bloggers, that this is an issue concerning free speech.

“I believe we should be able to take a picture of what we want and be able to post it on our websites and that is our freedom and right,” said Evans.

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