A Walk Down The King's Highway (2021)

✍️ 🕑 • Series: Maui 2021 • Tags: hawaiimauilava flowsarduous hikesarcheological sites • Places: Hoapili Trail


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I think it's tremendously cool that Hoapili Trail exists.

The route is an ancient Hawaiian road. It was initially constructed in the 1500's, and partially reconstructed in 1853. The full trail is 138 miles long, and some of it is in threat of undergoing redevelopment. There are people who have hiked the entire route, but generally that is not a common desire.

This hike was pretty intense, but also, really, really cool.



The drawbacks to doing this hike are pretty obvious. You're walking along harsh terrain, with lots of direct sunlight and no obvious freshwater sources.

The section that I walked was one of the most easily accessible by car. Just continue past Wailea's resorts until the road becomes extremely narrow, dodge oncoming traffic, and park at the trail head. Out and back, it totals about six miles, though there are stretches of parallel paths, and a separate hike to a not-particularly-nice-looking lighthouse that can be tacked on.

Fortunately for me, there was a hefty breeze while I was walking. And though I am no fan of walking into the wind for hours, but it is generally an improvement over lots of sun and no breeze.

Trail Information
Name Hoapili Trail (Makena Section)
Miles 3
Location Makena
State HI
Country USA
Type point-to-point
Check out the trails index for information on more trails!

The main sights on this trail are rocks, rocks, and more rocks. Sharp volcanic rocks, as befits a volcanic island.


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Given the roughness of the terrain, it's easy to see why no road continues beyond this point, and even more astonishing to contemplate that hundreds of years ago, a different sort of road did and still does.


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Of course, beyond geology, there are also the remnants of ancient Hawaiian culture all around. When you walk the King's Highway, you are also walking on the ruins of a conquered civilization, one whose occupation continues to present day.


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In terms of modern pleasure-seeking, the road is never far from the Pacific Ocean, whose waters seem all the more beckoning to a hiker in direct sunlight.


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Many of the beaches along the trail head are very popular.


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If you hike further from the road... they're still popular. Just, with a different crowd: folks with four-wheelers. They traverse an impromptu network of routes to some campgrounds (hopefully not desecrating the remains of an ancient civilization while doing so.) Ironic, to have flown 5,000 miles from Pennsylvania, just to run across a bunch of ATV enthusiasts who on a surface level, would have fit in perfectly in my Pennsylvania neighborhood.


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Around this area, I had a conversation with a woman at a campsite. I'm not sure who started it. I might have just voiced a courteous "hi" while passing through, which may have been the kick needed to set the wheels in motion.

I think, as soon as she realized that I was by myself and not just ahead of my friends cause I'm a fast hiker she was... well, more perturbed by my presence and did everything possible to emphasize that her HUSBAND and SON were out fishing and I ought to GO so she could MAKE DINNER and have it READY when they got back, like the good WIFE and MOTHER she was.

But, before that happened, as if by rote, she gave me directions to a particular "secret beach" without my asking. Given that the location of the "secret beach" is detailed in numerous guidebooks, I don't think it's really so secret after all.

But, whatever on my way back, I turned at the right palm tree, walked past some more ancient ruins, and descended to a pleasant enough sandy beach.


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The secluded beach was already occupied, but its denizens were off in the water, swimming. A nearby radio was blasting reggae.

This, of course, was the subject of photo number 23 ("Music") from year 2021 of 52 Frames.


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(Note: I think all of the photos in this post were shot with a circular polarizer, sometimes not twisted the right way. In addition to that, I've intentionally messed with colors, contrast, and vignetting in post.)

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