Puna Trail (North End Section)

Trail

Overview

  • Directions

    Geolocation is not allowed
  • Distance

    2.45 miles

Contact Information

Description

Trailhead access may be restricted

Due to the closure of certain State and City Parks and other facilities in response to reducing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus, access to certain trailheads may be restricted. All Nā Ala Hele Trails remain open, unless otherwise noted. 

Trails that are affected: Ala Kahakai Trail, Alakai Swamp Trail, Awaawapuhi Trail, Contour Road, Haeleele Ridge Road, Kaaweiki Ridge Road, Kauhao Ridge Road,Kawaikoi Stream Trail, Ke Ala Loa O Maui/Piilani Trail, Kohua Ridge Trail, Kukui Trail, Makaha Arboretum Road, Makaha Road, Manukā Nature Trail, Milolii Ridge Road, Mohihi-Camp 10 Road, Mohihi-Waialae Trail, Nualolo Cliff Trail, Nualolo Trail, Papaalai Ridge Road, Pihea Trail, Pine Forest Drive, Polihale Ridge Road, Polipoli Trail, Poomau Canyon Vista Trail,Puna Trail, Redwood Trail.

The Puna trail follows a historic carriage trail that once linked fishing villages in the Puna district. Beginning at a gravel parking lot, the trail parallels the coast where hikers follow the rock curbed trail through mostly exotic jungle, with views of the ocean along the way. The trail ends at the scenic Hāʻena beach. Often honu (green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas) and ʻīlioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi) can be seen basking on the shore. Behind the beach is the historic Shipman Estate and is still used as the family's residence. This property has also been managed as a refuge for nēnē (Branta sandvicensis) since 1918, making it the oldest nēnē breeding program in the world.

Difficulty: Easy

Highest Point: 20 ft.

Lowest Point: sea level

Allowed Activities
Hiking
Dog Walking
Wildlife Watching
Rules & Regulation
No Motorized
No Biking
Dogs On Leash
Stay On Trail
Allowed Access
Dogs
Pedestrians

Additional Information

Special Conditions

Do not use any trail or access road that is not delineated by name and color and that may also be displayed on these maps. The marked features are managed for public recreational use. Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk. Downloadable resources are provided below

Activities

  • Beach Going
  • Dogs on Leash
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Pedestrian
  • Sightseeing
  • Wildlife Viewing

Amenities

  • Interpretive Signs
  • Parking

Features

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Study
  • Nature Study
  • Ocean Scenery
  • Sensitive Area

Hazards

  • Dangerous Shorebreak
  • High Surf
  • Rip Currents
  • Slipper Rocks
  • Strong Current
  • Uneven Surface
  • Waves/Breaks

Plants/Birds/Mammals

In the small kīpuka look for ‘ōhi‘a, a native tree with oval leaves and clusters of delicate red flowers. Early Hawaiians used the flowers in lei (garlands) and the wood in outrigger canoes. The hard, durable wood was also carved into god images for heiau (religious sites). At the house site near the ocean, watch for the native shrub, naupaka kahakai. It has bright green, fleshy leaves, and half-formed white flowers with purple streaks. Its round white fruits float in the ocean, helping to spread the species to remote areas. At the beach you may encounter an endangered monk seal. Also known as ‘īlio holo i ka uaua (dog that runs in rough water), it has a silvery gray back and creamy underside. Folds of skin on its head resemble a monk’s hood, thus the name. The seal spends much of its time in the water, hunting for fish and invertebrate sea creatures. However, the seal does haul out on the beach regularly to rest, molt, and breed. Give it a wide berth, at least 150 feet, and don’t feed or otherwise interact with it.

Private Property

The trail is surrounded on all sides by private property and contains fragile historic sites. Please stay on the trail. Leaving the trail may be trespassing. Please respect the Shipman Family's home and nēnē refuge by staying off the lawn area and out of the fishponds. All land inland of Hāʻena beach is private property.

Protected Wildlife

Do not approach the endangered Hawaiian species that live here. They are protected by state and federal laws and it is a violation of these laws to approach, feed, touch, or harass these wild animals. Observe them from a distance. Nēnē (Hawaiian goose, Branta sandvicensis) - Hawaiʻi's state bird and is protected by state and federal laws. Please keep your dog on a leash at all times! Honu (green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas) - A common visitor to Hāʻena beach, the endangered honu is protected by state and federal laws. Observe from a distance and do not feed, touch or ride honu. ʻĪlioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi) - This critically endangered seal of only 1,000 individuals left is protected by state and federal laws. Do not approach the seals any closer than 50 yards.

History

The Puna Trail was an old Hawaiian route linking small settlements along the coast in the district of Puna. In the mid-1800s the Hawaiian government straightened and widened the trail alignment, which then became known as the Government Road. The present-day hike follows a short stretch of the old Government Road in the ahupua‘a (land division) of Kea‘au. On the road look for old rock pavement and curbing, especially in the first section of the hike. The rock walls along the route once enclosed gardens or other agricultural sites. Two of the walled enclosures may have been connected to school sites. The walls kept animals out of the gardens cultivated by the students. In 1904 rancher William H. Shipman built the lovely house fronting the beach at Hā‘ena. In 1918 his son Herbert, an ardent conservationist, saved the nēnē (Hawaiian goose) from extinction by capturing a few wild geese and raising them near the Shipman home. His facility provided nēnē to other breeding programs started by the State and a trust in England.

Route Description

At the far end of the parking lot, take the Puna Trail, a grassy road paralleling the coast. Stop briefly at the bulletin board displaying a trail map and other information, and brush your boots at the cleaning station on the left. Enter a mixed, introduced forest. Walk through a small kīpuka with native ‘ōhi‘a trees. On the right is a possible school site with lava rock walls. Shortly afterward reach an unmarked junction. Continue straight past three yellow posts blocking vehicle access. (The road to the right leads to Pākī Bay.) Pass through an area covered with trees downed by tropical storm Iselle in 2014. Keep left between two banyan trees. The trail approaches the shore near a grove of coconut palms. On the right pass a house site with rock walls. A dirt road comes in on the left through a gate with a kapu (no trespassing) sign. On the left pass a concrete observation bunker left over from World War Two. After crossing a soggy area, reach Hā‘ena Bay. In back of the beach is a loko i‘a (fishpond) and a residence of the Shipman family. Ford the stream from the mākāhā (sluice gate) of the fishpond and walk along the beach. The official trail ends at the far side of the beach. Do not stray mauka (inland) onto the Shipman property.

Prohibited

  • No Beach Driving
  • No Bicycles
  • No Camping
  • No Commercial
  • No Horses
  • No Hunting
  • No Littering
  • No Motorized Vehicles
  • No Open Fires
  • No Plant Sand Dirt Rock Removal

Simple Trail Tips

  1. Stay on the trail 
  2. Check the weather 
  3. Watch the time 
  4. Avoid undue risk 
  5. Read all posted signs 
  6. Respect other trail users 
  7. Pack out at least what you pack in