2 hiking tragedies could trigger change for trails across the state

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Two hiking incidents on Oahu ended in tragedy over the weekend.

The first incident happened at Puu Manamana Trail in Kaaawa. It’s called the most dangerous hike in Hawaii. The other incident happened at Mariner’s Ridge, a trek high above East Oahu.

But both trails are on private property and neither of them have been given the thumbs up from the State Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“Avoid listening to those tour guide books because most of the times they tell you to trespass on private property and lead you to areas aren’t for the average hiker,” DLNR director William Aila said.

Mariner’s Ridge is where 70-year-old Honolulu resident Paul Yoon fell to his death on Sunday. He was with the group Honolulu Korean Hikers Club.

Kamehameha Schools, which owns this property, has never permitted access to this trail. In fact, in December, they added a chain as well as a sign warning hikers to keep out.

On Monday, a group of hikers didn’t let the “No trespassing” signs stop them. On a mission to tackle the trail, they slipped right underneath the chain and kept on walking.

“As people act badly, they create a bad name for all hikers and create a situation where more trails and more areas are closed off,” Sierra Club Hawaii Director Robert Harris said.

The local chapter of the Sierra Club leads hundreds of hikes every year, but Harris says those who want to see the beauty of Hawaii need to do it legally.

“If a commercial entity is taking people up, they have to make sure they are doing so legally and safely,” Harris said.

Elizabeth Tarpey, 23, died after falling while hiking Puu Manamana Trail on Saturday.

Like Mariner’s Ridge, it is not one of the 40 state sanctioned hikes on Oahu.

“Someone may say, ‘Hey, this is an unreal trail. Check it out.’ It may be unreal, but it’s also very dangerous trail and other folks now going on it, not knowing how difficult it is,” Harris said.

“People are responsible for their own actions and that they should avoid putting themselves into hazardous conditions or putting themselves in a place where it’s unsafe,” Aila said.

The organizer for the Honolulu Korean Hikers Club was meeting with the Yoon family on Monday and did not want to comment on what happened or why the group chose to trespass onto Mariner’s Ridge Trail.

For more information on hiking trails, visit this website.

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