Kauai stone dam hike via Wai Koa Loop Trail is open to the public through North Shore Dog Park on Kahiliholo Road in Kilauea. We welcome the visitors to Common Ground for Regenerative Tropical Agroforest Farm and Food Experience Tour. The campus is open at 3PM on tours days to allow for quicker walk to the dam from Common Ground.
Built in the 1800s each rock was cut by hand and carefully placed to provide water for the sugar cane plantation. Today it is a serene spot to enjoy thanks to the Hawaii Land Trust
Access to Stone Dam from Wai Koa Loop Trail
Stone Dam public access is through the Wai Koa Loop Trail which is 4.5 miles long and takes about 2 hours. The hike is rated beginner / intermediate for mostly flat terrain. There are no bathrooms or potable water on the trail. Map shows the trial route and parking at North Shore Dog Park on Kahiliholo Road in Kilauea.
What to bring on the trail:
Historic Stone Dam
In the 1800s, Kilauea Sugar Plantation went through a period of intensive projects--such as building the first railroad in Hawaii and Stone Dam. Even though Kauai is one of the wettest spots on Earth, there wasn't enough water for the thirsty sugar cane in Kilauea. The solution was building a series of reservoirs, aqueducts, ditches, and dams to service the sugar fields, town drinking water and field workers.
Each rock was cut by hand and carefully placed. The dam needed to raise the water level 20 feet in order to utilize gravity to water the canefields during the dry season. The specially angled buttresses were designed to support the natural migration of o'opu (Hawaiian freshwater goby) up the stream.
To learn more about the historical use of the lands around stone dam check out the article about Common Ground's Guava Roots.
Writings of Uncle Jack Gushiken, private collection.
Images: Kilauea Sugar Plantation in 1912: A Snapshot by Carol MacLennan
Kilauea Sugar Plantation in 1912: A Snapshot, eVols digital institutional repository for the University of Hawaii (UH)
The Wai Koa Loop Trail and Stone Dam are open to the public and protected in perpetuity by the Hawaii Land Trust.
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