Kalopa State Recreation Area

I recently went hiking in the Kalōpā State Recreation Area, not far from Honoka’a, on the northern end of the island. I’d been there before, but only to check it out, so this was an opportunity to explore the trails more thoroughly. One of the treasures of this area is that it features plants that were on the island before even the native Hawaiians arrived.

The recreation area is about 100 acres, and it neighbors the 500 acre Kalōpā Forest Reserve. At an elevation of around 2,000 feet, and on the wet side of the island, it’s cool and damp. There are a variety of trails that intersect and criss cross, which allows hikers options from short loops of less than a mile, to a 6+mile hike around the perimeter.

I took one of the longer routes and it reminded me greatly of hikes I’d taken back in the Pacific Northwest where I used to live. Light rain, water dripping from the overhead canopy, ferns bordering the trail, and tall trees stretching up into a grey sky. These were all features of those hikes. Only the species were different. Eucalyptus, ohia, and kopiko instead of firs and cedars.

The photos show – Top: towering trees line the trail alongside Kalōpā Gulch. Above: A view down into Kalōpā Gulch. Flash floods often race down this gully so it’s a good idea to watch your step. Right: Strangler figs envelope native trees and take over resulting in weird, twisted shapes. Below: The old Jeep Road, bordered by invasive kahili ginger, cuts through the center of the area. It’s hard to imagine anyone driving this trail.

For more information about hiking in Kalōpā State Recreation Area go to bigislandhikes.com/kalopa-state-park/.

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