I was hiking in Kalopa Native Forest State Park when I came across the trail sign above. Nothing too remarkable about that, but I happened to notice the back side of the sign (middle), which showed that getting the sign right took a bit of practice.
On a subsequent visit, I noticed that the back of sign at the other end of the trail (bottom) had also seen a rejected first effort.
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. Third photo: 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.
Moss grows on a tree in the Kalōpā State Recreation Area, on the northern end of the island. Hawaii might be in the tropics, but the elevation of Kalōpā, combined with it being on the wet side of the island, means it is home to vegetation more associated with my former home in the Pacific Northwest.