Pu'u Wa'awa'a Ahupua'a – North Kona State Forest Reserve and State Park
Pu’u Wa’awa’a is the namesake of the greater ahupua’a (traditional land management area) in the North Kona district that encompasses over 35,000 acres of land on the leeward side of Hawaii Island, spanning eight miles from an elevation of 6,500 feet to sea level at Kiholo Bay.
An area with a deep history, diverse biological features, unique geological formations, and amazing natural beauty, this ahupua’a is managed as both a State Forest Reserve in the mauka (mountainous) and State Park in the makai (coastal) lands.
Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ahupua’a
You can learn more about the history of the ahupua’a in Hawaii here.
One of the new trails we created near recent native plantings
Since moving to the Big Island of Hawaii, my husband and I have been regular volunteers in the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Volunteer Work Program. Last Saturday, we had another opportunity to learn and experience the wonders of the native dry land forest. Most of our volunteer efforts focus on the mauka State Forest Reserve area.
This time, we worked on a fairly new access trail near the water reservoir. We pulled weeds, invasive fountain grass, and watered the recent native plantings. We also created a couple side trails to provide easier access to area plantings. It was a warm day, so by the time lunch time rolled around, we had definitely earned a break.
Pu’u Wa’awa’a Cinder Cone from the mauka visitor kiosk
The entrance gate to Pu’u Wa’awa’a is located between mile markers 22 and 21 on the Mamalahoa Hwy. on the way to Waimea (just before going up the hill to Puu Lani Ranch). Since the area is gated to keep the cattle, sheep, and goats contained, many do not realize that this is a State Forest Reserve area open for public access. The gates are locked after sundown and on weekends, but open during daylight hours Mon.—Fri.
Brochures are available at the visitor kiosk near the entrance gate for all trails with maps and details about the features to be found in this unique area. Just remember to close all gates behind you. It’s vitally important to contain the wildlife!
The signature feature of this land, Pu’u Wa’awa’a itself, was formed over 100,000 years ago. In fact, it is the oldest surface feature on all of Hualalai.
Group leaders explaining tree infestation restoration project
After lunch, our group leader treated us to a nature walk in the upper elevations. It was fascinating learning about the local plants and terrain that the group was able to share.
Near the end of our journey, we were allowed to stop at the protea farm and pick some of these special flowers for lasting enjoyment.
You can learn more about Pu’u Wa’awa’a at their website.
I am also a member of E Mau Na Ala Hele, a non-profit organization helping with the preservation of historic Hawaiian trails. Click here or here to learn more about some of the activities of this group.