Why You Shouldn’t Hike Sacred Falls

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources recently reached out to me with a link to the video above. Many of our long time readers know that we had directions to Sacred Falls here. Key word: had. I took down the directions, not because the DLNR asked me to (they didn’t), but because I watched the video and realized that I should. So I did. If you’re thinking of hiking Sacred Falls, there are many good reasons why you should reconsider:

  1. It’s illegal.
  2. In 1999, 8 people were killed at Sacred Falls, and 50 more were injured.
  3. Since then, many more people have gotten injured or lost on the trail.
  4. The signs indicating No Entry is not just there for liability; they are enforced.
  5. Police and DLNR officials do patrol the trail and cite those that disregard the warning signs.
  6. The trail is not maintained and can be very dangerous and unsafe.
  7. The state has a zero tolerance policy, and if you are caught on the trail then you will be cited.
  8. It is culturally disrespectful to hike Sacred Falls.

According to this Star Advertiser article from 2014, “entry into Sacred Falls State Park is a petty misdemeanor, punishable in court with fines of a minimum $100 for a first offense; $200 for a second offense; and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. The Board of Land and Natural Resources may also pursue civil administrative penalties of up to $2,500 for a first violation; $5,000 for a second violation; and $10,000 for a third or subsequent violation, according to the DLNR.”

“When somebody gets hurt, who do they call…they call 911….just to get in here with the chopper (helicopter) you can’t do it. The ropes are not long enough to take our basket in here to get people out.” – Michael Chung, Honolulu Fire Department

“They just simply don’t know enough to be respectful. They don’t know Kaliuwaa. That is one of our issues. That is one of our problems. If they knew…if they realized that its like climbing the walls of a temple…perhaps we’d have better control. I feel it is hurtful to us to see something that we think is so magnificent and so important to our culture being abused.” – Hawaii Resident

For a listing of over 40 state-maintained trails that you can do on Hawaii, check out the Na Ala Hele website. There are a ton of great hikes in the state that you can do legally, that are just as fun and beautiful.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.

4 comments

  1. I have long admired and utilized your excellent, informative site for making my hiking “decisions,” in line with my level of fitness and ability. But your decision to remove info to Sacred Falls deserves the highest accolades for your sense of moral responsibility and for your commitment to our community, and to our first-responders. Highest praise and respect to you!

  2. I understand your decision to pull this article but have an issue with #8… Was it cultural disrespectful to hike this when it was a sanctioned hike? I think that is a different issue all together and should not have been included as a reason.

  3. Kane of course it was disrespectful to hike the falls before it was closed. It was & still is a sacred place. Just like there are many other places in Hawaii that are sacred (the whole island) but people still go there, hike there, PAY MONEY to visit there. It’s ridiculous.

  4. I agree Kane. I did the hike in ’95 before the closing. People had died there prior, and everyone there was aware that it had potential dangers. I feel terrible for the people and families who lost others in the slide. Though I believe that the State should not have been sued for having inadequate signage. Even in 95 there was memorials at the trail head for people who had died in the area. For people to think that a sign would have saved loved ones is simply untrue- and now we spend thousands of dollars patrolling and closing a truly beautiful place to the public.
    But this whole campaign to keep people out is just propaganda. There are plenty of hikes around that are dangerous which are not closed. I respect the sacred places of the islands, but struggle to find the historical sacred story apart from the lore of the area. They need to lift this closure, provide ample warnings, and move on.

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