After being closed for a time because of flood damage, the Kilauea Stone Dam is open once more. Many people don’t know about this place, but it’s a very beautiful and interesting landmark. To get to the dam, you will need to go for a hike on the Wai Koa Loop in Kilauea.
The land that this trail travels through has changed hands and the fate of this trail and landmark has been in question. Luckily, the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust has stepped in to preserve the trail and give visitors access to this gem.
There are three access points to the Wai Koa Trail, which is a 4.5 mile loop. Right now, there is just one access point open. This is located at the North Shore Dog Park. Instead of the normal loop, the hike goes from the dog park, to the dam, and back. It is not a very difficult hike and is about 3 miles.
While hiking, you will go through pastures and a forest that holds the biggest mahogany plantation in the U.S. In addition, there are gorgeous views of the Namahana Mountains. The hike is peaceful and full of beauty, a welcome escape from large cities and busy beaches.
The true treat of the hike is reaching the stone dam. If you bring your children along on the hike and they have seen Frozen 2, they will agree that the dam is amazing. The dam was built in the 1800s by the Kilauea Sugar Plantation. They needed to get water to their sugarcane fields. Therefore, they built a network of reservoirs, aqueducts, ditches, and dams to move the water to where it was needed. This network also brought drinking water to the town and field workers.
Every rock in the dam was cut and placed by hand. The purpose of the dam was to raise the water level by 20 feet so that water could flow into the fields in the dry season. A cool feature of the dam are specially angled buttresses that allow for the natural migration of o’opu, which are Hawaiian freshwater goby, who need to travel upstream. The dam is a perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch, so bring along some food and rest before heading back.
Be aware that there could be some fencing and barriers along the trail, especially near the dam. Be respectful of these, as they are trying to help grass and plants rejuvenate after the flood damage.
-Bring rain gear and bug spray. You never know when there could be a passing shower. There are always bugs, since there is water, but the bugs are worse at dusk.
-Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.
-Wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. The sun is powerful and there are no sources of potable water along the trail or at the dam.