06/14/18 – Lanikai Pillbox Trail To Close June 21 For Repairs To Structures; Two-month closure needed to complete work

Posted on Jun 14, 2018 in Forestry & Wildlife, News Releases

News Release


For Immediate News Release June 14, 2018

Two-month closure needed to complete work

HONOLULU —   A two-month project to rehabilitate two historic World War II-era structures known as the Lanikai “pillboxes” on the popular hiking trail on Ka‘iwa ridge, Kailua will finally begin on Thursday, June 21, 2018. 

Initially the project was to start March 28, but was delayed pending FAA approval of the contractor’s flight plan to fly up materials and equipment.  The flight plan has been approved and the trail will be closed starting June 21, 2018 so materials can be moved. 

For public safety and to expedite project completion, the trail and structures will be closed for 60 calendar days, for work consisting of concrete spall repair, and removal and replacement of rusted steel roof supports. New steel flange roof supports will be installed, and roof sealant applied to the pillbox structures to prevent weathering.

The first pillbox structure along the trail, Station 29A is a single tier structure. Its more weathered condition may be due to receiving more visitors and therefore more wear. Fewer hikers journey beyond the first pillbox to the second two-tiered pillbox structure, comprised of Stations 29B and 29C. Access to the structures is by an initial steep hike, then a rocky trail, which is narrow at times. 

The project contractor is Tokunaga Masonry, Inc. and project cost is $248,228.

A pillbox structural assessment report was prepared by Kai Hawai‘i Inc. to upgrade the structures to current standards. 


Ka‘iwa Ridge Trail, also known as the Lanikai “Pillbox” trail, offers stunningly beautiful views of the Mokulua Islands and the entire windward coast of Oahu, from Waimanalo to Mokoli‘i island.

But now with widespread advertising on travel websites and social media the trail is experiencing the same problems as many other O‘ahu hiking trails; it is being loved to death. Though located on state land, this trail is not on the managed inventory of DLNR’s Na Ala Hele and Access Program. However, trails staff are working with planning consultant firm PBR to develop a master plan for Ka‘iwa Ridge trail. (For information, see https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/recreation/home/ka%CA%BBiwa-ridge-trail-management-plan/ )

Military history: The Lanikai pillboxes are not really pillboxes. The two famed “pillboxes” on the trail are misnamed. In military terms, a pillbox means a defensive site such as a machine gun pillbox. The two concrete structures on Ka‘iwa Ridge were built to be observation stations, not sites for defensive armaments. The coast artillery stations were installed during World War II as part of Station Podmore and functioned as a command center to direct gun batteries. Today, the two pillboxes sit on DLNR land and Ka‘iwa Ridge is only one of two former US Army-operated sites that are owned by the State of Hawai‘i on the Windward side of O‘ahu.

Military historian John D. Bennett says the observation stations were constructed in 1943 and equipped with high-powered telescopes to fix positions of possible enemy ships. The job of the soldiers working in the structures was to transmit target information to artillery batteries on the Mokapu Peninsula, and later to serve batteries at the Kane‘ohe Bay Naval Air Station and Pu‘u Papa‘a.

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Media Contact:

Deborah Ward
DLNR Communications Specialist
Phone: (808) 587-0320