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Dangers of hiking in Hawaiʻi

By: Keila Lee

26 September 2019

Dangers of hiking in HawaiʻiBy Keila Lee

Hiking trails and waterfalls are among the most visited spots in Hawaiʻi. Thousands of tourists and locals visit countless trails each year to indulge in nature’s beauty. 


One of them is the Mānoa falls trail with its 150-foot waterfall, deep in Mānoa valley. On the trail, I met Ben Sills, an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast.


“Well the trail is looking kind of gloomy today, but I don’t mind,” Sills said as we began our trek.

However, many visitors stray away from these safety precautions. 


Firefighter Rob Wengler tells me that search and rescues for hikers are nothing out of the ordinary. 


“The fire department rescues hikers almost daily on our mountains and trails throughout the state,” Wengler said. “Majority of the reasons people get rescued is because they are injured or venture off the trails.”

Sen. Mike Gabbard introduced senate bill 248 after a man was rescued from Mānoa falls earlier this year. This bill fined hikers who are rescued while trespassing on closed trails. The fine can be up to $1,000. 


Gabbard defines the bill as a way to deter people from hiking in areas that aren’t safe. This may also decrease the amount of injuries and lost hikers. 

I also picked up some tips from Sills and Wengler on how to stay safe while hiking in Hawaiʻi. 

Hiking isn’t just about seeing nature’s beauty, it’s about staying safe while you’re out there, too. 


“I could see why people of all types of all levels can get hurt,” Sills said. “Mother nature is unpredictable.”


Many organizations, such as the department of land and natural resources and official hiking clubs, provide hikers with tips on how to stay safe on the trails.

“Always trust your instincts, like if you have doubt wherever you plan to go or trek on, I’d suggest you avoid that route,” Sills said. 


“Always hike with a partner or in a group,” Wengler said. “The night before, check the weather because weather often comes on and they get stranded.”

Trail visitors should always remember to stay safe and follow the regulations. 

The Mānoa Falls Trail is visited by hundreds of visitors each year.

Despite its beauty, hiking in Hawaiʻi can be dangerous.

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