08/28/15 – Changes To The Makapu‘u Trail Closures, Closures Scheduled for Sept. 15-23 (Weekdays Only)

Posted on Aug 28, 2015 in News Releases, State Parks

News Release


For Immediate News Release August 28, 2015

Closures Scheduled for September 15 – 23 (Weekdays Only)

HONOLULU – Due in large part to the weather delays in the construction, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of State Parks is modifying the closure dates for Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail in Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline. The trail will now be open from Friday, August 28 through Monday, September 14. To allow for the removal of the existing asphalt road and repaving of the one-mile long road, the trail will be closed for seven (7) days from Tuesday September 15 through Wednesday, September 23. The trail will be open on the weekend of September 19-20.  

The schedule for the trail closures is now as follows:

– Tuesday, September 15 through Friday, September 18

– Monday, September 21 through Wednesday, September 23

During the trail closures, visitors will not be able to access the parking lot or trail. However, the parking lot and trail will be open during regular park hours on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays; 7 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.). After Labor Day (Monday, September 7), the daily park hours change with closure at 6:45pm.

The rockfall mitigation project has been completed on schedule. However, the construction schedule for the trail improvements has been affected by the storms over the past week. The heavy rainfall resulted in minor damage to the trail. The trail will be repaired for hikers prior to reopening on Friday, August 28 but everyone should still be prepared for uneven trail conditions with ongoing construction activity during the days that the park is open.

The 7 days of closure in September are necessary as the asphalt pavement of the road is removed and the new asphalt surface is laid. The reconstructed retaining walls along the road have been completed, the new culverts under the road have been installed, and the drainage ditches are being repaired. Work continues on the new lookouts and the uppermost lookout will remained closed until the renovations are completed.

“It is exciting to see all the new improvements along the Makapu’u Trail taking shape and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to complete this project by the end of September. We have been able to accommodate the public’s use of the trail during much of the construction work but for public safety, we must close the trail during the road paving” said Dan Quinn, State Parks Administrator.

The project will not affect the Makapu‘u Lookout along Kalaniana‘ole Highway. The Kaiwi shoreline will remain open during the project, but during the trail closures, people must enter from the Sandy Beach end of the park as the parking lot for the Makapu‘u Trail will be closed.

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Media Contact:
Deborah Ward
Communications Specialist
(808) 587-0320


The Makapu‘u Road was built in 1909 to provide access to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s residences at the summit. Improvements to the road were made in the 1930s, including paving, rock and mortar vehicle barriers, and drainage ditches and culverts.

This current project seeks to preserve this historic feature and promote safety for the estimated 400 people who use the one-mile trail daily to reach the summit of Makapu‘u and experience the panoramic views of southeastern O‘ahu.

In recent years, the 10 to 12-foot wide asphalt road has been undercut in areas, the stacked rock retaining walls at the edge of the road have become unstable, and the asphalt road surface is marked by potholes and cracking. Unstable retaining walls and erosion along the road edges where there are steep drop-offs have created a safety concern for the U.S. Coast Guard and State Parks vehicles that use the road for maintenance purposes. The roadwork will involve the reconstruction of sections of the stacked rock retaining wall, replacement of the metal culverts under the road, and repaving of the asphalt road.

In addition, new features are being constructed along the trail to improve the visitor experience. Four (4) small lookouts with interpretive signs and viewing scopes are proposed along the makai side of the roadway to enhance the viewing of the coastline and the whales. These lookouts will stabilize surfaces where people are already stopping to take in the views. A small rest stop with a bench will be located along the mauka side of the upper trail.

Repair and improvements will also be conducted at the upper two lookouts originally constructed in 1991. The uppermost lookout will be expanded about 8 feet and new railings will be installed. The natural dirt surface between the two lookouts is heavily eroded and a new concrete walkway will be constructed to connect these lookouts. For safety, a new rock wall will be installed along the cliff edge.

The Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline consists of 347 acres, including the 38 acres at the summit of Makapu‘u Head that was received from the federal government in 1987, the 308 acres of the Wawamalu shoreline acquired from Bishop Estate in 2001, and the 1-acre Makapu‘u Lookout along Kalaniana‘ole Highway that was transferred from the City and County of Honolulu. These lands have been set aside to preserve the open space along this southeastern shoreline of O‘ahu.

Recreational opportunities include the 1-mile hike (one-way) to the summit of Makapu‘u Head, shoreline fishing, whale watching, and beach activities at the sandy coves, inlets, and tidepools. An estimated 350,000 people visit the park annually (2009 visitor counts by State Parks). The Makapu‘u Lookout is more heavily visited with over 200,000 visitors annually while another 150,000 people hike the Makapu‘u Trail or participate in ocean recreation activities along the Kaiwi shoreline. During these counts, it was found that about 75% of the hikers are residents, many who use the trail regularly for exercise.

The Department of the Interior, National Park Service administers the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program to promote public outdoor recreation. Since 1965, the State of Hawai’i has received more than $38 million in LWCF assistance.  Parks funded through LWCF grants are protected in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation purposes through section 6(f)3 of the LWCF Act of 1965.

An LWCF grant for $200,000 was awarded to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to assist with repair and improvements to the Makapu‘u Road (Trail).