The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail was designated in 2000 and is a recent addition to the National Historic Trails program. The program was created in 1968 and now includes more than 30 historic trails in the United States. The National Park Service administers the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail for the preservation, protection and interpretation of traditional Native Hawaiian culture and natural resources. It is more than a recreational trail, it is a 175 mile corridor that networks a number of culturally and historically significant places. It traverses through hundreds of ancient Hawaiian settlement sites and over 200 ahupua'a (traditional sea to mountain land divisions). With nearly 50% of its length traversing private property, the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is a unique model of community management and involvement, focusing on the preservation of Hawaiian culture and heritage, as well as promoting environmental stewardship and education. It is a path that joins the past to the present and the future! To learn more, please visit www.nps.gov/alka/index.htm
In 1998, the National Park Service completed a Feasibility Study for the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The Feasibility Study offered four alternative courses of action: 1) No Action; 2) National Historic Trail (continuous); 3) State Historic Trail; 4) National Historic Trail (discontinuous).
The Feasibility Study recommended National Historic Trail (continuous) as the environmentally-preferred alternative. Next, the Draft Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement were completed. The draft CMP/EIS offered three alternatives – 1) No Action; 2) Single Trail; and 3) Ahupua’a Trail System. The draft NPS selected Number 3, the Ahupua’a Trail System as the preferred alternative, because the community led by Native Hawaiians wanted to make sure that mauka-makai trails were included in the trail system management plan. The management plan ensures that preservation and environmental protection laws are considered, traditional shoreline uses are perpetuated and unimpaired, establishes a framework for cooperative management with the community, and provides guidelines for caring for the Trail. The management plan provides long-term planning document that will serve as a reference and guide during the first 15 years of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
Vicinity map and location of Ala Kahakai NHT
Ala means road or trail. Kahakai means beach or seashore. The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (in yellow) is the network of coastal trails on the island of Hawaii. Its main trail is the ancient traditional Ala Loa (Long Trail) trail that followed near or along the coast of the island. The other parts of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail are the ancient and historic trails that connect the Ala Loa to sites and trails mauka or makai.
Location of high potential cultural sites and complexes
The Ala Kahakai Trail is based on a Hawaiian understanding of trails as a network of trails that connected – and often still connect – places of importance to Hawaiian people. It is a perpetuation of the ancestral connection that families have with trails and the places that the trails connect. The major focus of the trail experience is an understanding and appreciation of Hawaiian values and cultural practices. There will be activities and programs that show the trail system’s importance and history.