Pu‘u Ka Pele Forest Reserve
Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is located on the west side of the island of Kaua‘i in the District of Waimea. The area was of interest to the Territorial Government dating back to the early nineteenth century. The primary reasons for its addition to the Forest Reserve System were to retain its wild scenic beauty as well as to reduce erosion and damage of the steep cliffs by controlling ungulate populations. The Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve presently consists of approximately 23,600 acres.
Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is a multi-use area which provides some of the best public hunting opportunities on the island of Kaua‘i, and early reforestation efforts in the Pu‘u ka Pele area resulted in the establishment of plantations comprised of experimental non-native and native tree species, as well as proven commercial timber species.
Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is managed for native species conservation, recreational hunting, forestry, and other recreational activities.
Game mammal and Game bird hunting opportunities are offered on the six major islands in the State of Hawai‘i: (Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and the big island of Hawai‘i). Each of these islands has one or more State-designated public hunting areas (called Hunting Units), which are open for hunting at certain times during each year. Game mammal and game bird hunting opportunities are also available on private lands as well. Occasionally, the Division of Forestry & Wildlife (DOFAW) may modify or cancel a hunting season in a particular area to adjust for changes in weather conditions or animal populations.
Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hunting Website
Game Mammal Hunting Rules and Exhibits
Game Bird Hunting Rules and Exhibits
Principle Current Objectives
DOFAW’s current principal objectives for the area are:
- to manage the lands for sustainable game hunting opportunities,
- provide native and non-native timber resources for commercial and non-commercial use,
- manage existing rare native biological resources, and
- maintain existing infrastructure.
Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is one of the most accessible Forest Reserves on the island. A network of roads, trails, and landing zones has been established and is currently maintained for public use, staff access, firebreaks, and safety. Vehicular access to the to the Western Ridge Section of Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is available via paved highways on Waimea Canyon Drive or via Kōke‘e Road. Access to the southwest portion of the Western Ridge Section can be achieved via Polihale Road. Access to the Canyon Section of Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve can be achieved via Menehune Road and a 4-wheel drive road near the 600-foot elevation contour accesses the lower reaches of the Forest Reserve at the canyon bottom.
Additional Public Use
Public Hunting: DOFAW manages public hunting on all forest reserve lands on Kaua‘i by the regulation of hunting seasons, bag limits, and varied hunting methods. DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) carries out enforcement of hunting regulations (Chapter 122 Rules Regulating Game Bird Hunting, and Chapter 123 Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting).
Hunting within the Western Ridge Section of Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is divided among designated Hunting Units “A”, “H” and “J” while the Canyon Section includes hunting units “B”, “E”, “F”, and “K”. Each of these units is managed for specific purposes and goals. Game mammals found within these hunting units consist of feral pigs (Sus scrofa), feral goats (Capra hirca), and black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). DOFAW regulates game mammal hunting according to HRS Title 13 Chapter 123; hunting units on Kaua‘i are described in §13-123-15 and mapped in Chapter 123 Exhibit 2. Game birds include: ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), Erckel’s francolin (Francolinus erckelii), black francolin (Francolinus francolinus), chukar partridge (Alectoris graeca), lace-necked doves (Streptopelia chinensis), gray francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus), Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica), California quail (Callipepla californica), and barred doves (Geopelia striata) Game bird hunting is regulated according to HRS Title 13 Chapter 122; game bird hunting units are described in §13-122-11.6 and mapped in Chapter 122 Exhibit 12.
Although cattle (Bos taurus) are not considered game animals, a remnant, feral population occurs within the Western Ridge Section of the Forest Reserve. In order to protect reserve resources from environmental degradation and the public from cattle hazard, DOFAW intends to eradicate wild cattle via special hunts and/or staff control.
Hunting in all of these forest areas is restricted to weekends and State holidays unless otherwise allowed by special hunts. Illegal hunting activity occurs, but it has been controlled to some degree by a system of locked gates during weekdays.
Camping: Camping is not allowed within the Western Ridge Section because of the fire hazard associated with campsites. Camping is allowed year round in the Canyon Section of the Forest Reserve at the following locations: Kaluahaulu, Hipalau, Wiliwili, and Wai‘alae Canyons. Camping may be restricted for certain periods of time at certain locations as determined by the Division (e.g., high fire risk, natural disaster, maintenance, etc.). Permits are required for camping and can be obtained free of charge through the Kaua‘i Branch Office located at: 3060 Eiwa Street, Room 306 LƯhu‘e, Hawai‘i 96766.
Bird Watching: Pu‘u ka Pele Forest Reserve is a relatively accessible area for native forest bird watching. The Hawaiian birds most likely to be seen include the Kaua‘i ‘amakihi, Kaua‘i ‘elepaio, ‘apapane, pueo, and nene.
Fishing: Fishing is allowed in the Waimea River System year round.
Hiking: Approximately 40 miles of trails and secondary roads, maintained by the Division’s Na Ala Hele trail program, exist within the Forest Reserve. Hiking is open to the public year round.
Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is allowed within both sections of the Forest Reserve year round. Some riders voluntarily restrict their riding to weekdays in order to avoid weekend hunting activity. Hunters access more remote areas of the reserve via horseback on weekends and holidays. Use mostly occurs along secondary roads within the Western Ridge Section or the following trails in the Canyon Section: Koai‘e Canyon, Kaluahaulu-Wai‘alae, Wai‘alae Canyon, Pu‘u Ki, Waialai, Kukui, and Mokihana.
Dirt Bikes, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Mountain Bikes: Dirt bikes are allowed on secondary roads within the Western Ridge Section of the Forest Reserve if registered by the County Division of Motor Vehicles. Motor cross bikes are not allowed within the Canyon Section of the Forest Reserve. ATV use is prohibited throughout the Forest Reserve. Mountain biking is only allowed in the Western Ridge Section of the Forest Reserve.