Native Paths to Volunteer Trails: Hiking and Trail Building on Oahu



O‘ahu has a varied, extensive, and distinctive network of mountain hiking trails. Stuart M. Ball, Jr., author of The Hikers Guide to O‘ahu, explores the history behind many of the island’s trails, beginning with early Hawaiians who blazed routes for traveling, plant and wood gathering, and bird catching. Sugar plantations constructed paths to access ditches that tapped stream water for thirsty cane. The U.S. Army built trails for training and island defense, while those developed by the Territorial Forestry Division and the Civilian Conservation Corps were mainly for reforestation and wild pig control. Most recently, volunteers and hiking clubs have created additional routes solely for recreation. The result of all this varied activity is a large network of just over a 100 mountain trails, a precious resource on a small, populous island.

The book compiles the history of 50 of those trails. Most of them still exist, and many are open to the public. The trails are arranged by the group or organization that built them, moving from Hawaiian trails before 1800 to volunteer trails of the 1990s. Each chapter contains an overview that describes the background and purpose of the trail building during the period covered. The trail histories are self-contained, recording the major events from construction through 2010.

Native Paths to Volunteer Trails will allow fans of O‘ahu’s hiking trails—and Hawai‘i history buffs—to trek into the past and learn about some of their favorite routes and research future ones.