Ka‘ū Forest Reserve

Ka‘ū Forest Reserve


The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve was established by Governor’s Proclamation on August 2, 1906 to protect the forest on the lower slopes of Mauna Loa in the Ka‘ū District on the southeastern side of the island of Hawai‘i. The Reserve is public land, managed by DOFAW, and consists of approximately 61,000 acres of forested lands. Ka‘ū Forest Reserve was established to maintain the necessary water supply for agricultural lands in Ka‘ū.

Ka‘ū Forest Reserve Management Plan (September 2012)


kau3The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve is a critical watershed for the people of Ka‘ū. The forest reserve’s water sources are used for domestic supplies as well as agriculture, and maintaining this water supply is important for the future viability of agriculture in Ka‘?. The native forest replenishes springs and other groundwater, and reduces flooding and erosion.




The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve is important for preserving Hawaii’s unique native forest ecosystems and its species, including a wide variety of rare or endangered plants and animals. Endangered birds for which the continuing health of the forest reserve may be a critical factor include the ‘Akiapōlā‘au (Hemignathus munroi), Hawai‘i Creeper (Oreomystis mana) and Hawai‘i ‘Akepa (Loxops coccineus).

The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve contains resources that are vital for maintaining Hawaiian culture and practices. Hawaiians consider native plants and animals as family and have a strong spiritual connection to the mountain landscape and the forest itself.

kau5The Ka‘ū Forest Reserve is an important area for public use including hunting, recreational opportunities, cultural uses, personal gathering, and educational programs and activities.  Public access is allowed in the Reserve for recreational and cultural uses, including hunting, hiking and gathering of plant material (with a permit).

Vehicular Access: Access to Ka‘u Forest Reserve is via public roads including Lorenzo Rd, Kiolaka‘a Rd, Mountain House Rd, Waterfall Rd. (known as Galimba access at Pu‘u One), Honanui Rd and Ainapo Rd. Ainapo and Honanui roads have locked gates and permission for access is through Kāpapala Ranch (call 982-8403 for combination for lock on gate between the hours of 7:30am and 8:30 p.m. Check-in is at 6:00 a.m. and check-out is at 6:00 p.m.

Trails: There are no officially designated state-managed trails in Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.

Camping: No camping is currently allowed in the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve.

Hunting: DOFAW manages public hunting on all Forest Reserve System lands, and hunting is allowed in Ka‘ū Forest Reserve, which lies within Hunting Unit B. DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) carries out enforcement of hunting regulations (Chapter 122 Rules Regulating Game Bird Hunting, and Chapter 123 Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting). General hunting regulations can be found in Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Title 13 Chapter 121. Current information regarding hunting rules, seasons and bag limits for all game species can be obtained by contacting the DOFAW Hilo office at 19 East Kawili Ave. Hilo, Hawai‘i, (808) 974-4221. All persons are required to have a valid Hawai‘i hunting license on their person to hunt or have a bagged game mammal in their possession. Hunting licenses may be purchased online from https://www.ehawaiigov.org/DLNR/hunting/, from any DOFAW office or from any registered hunting license vendor. All hunting license applicants must show proof of having successfully completed a hunter education course that is recognized by the National Hunter Education Association.