Lost hiker rescued on the White Road Trail in Kamuela Wednesday afternoon (December 30th).
Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Holualoa) Team
The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) and Department of Land and Natural Resource (DLNR) responded to a report of a lost hiker on the closed White Road Trail in Kamuela, South Kohala Wednesday afternoon (December 30th).
The initial call came in at 2:32 pm Wednesday afternoon and HFD Crews from the Waimea and Kailua (Rescue Company 7) Fire Station along with Battalion 2, Chopper 2, Chopper 1, HPD Officers from the South Kohala Patrol, and DLNR - DOCARE Officers responded to the scene located on the White Road Trail.
Upon the arrival of emergency crews, a call came in from a hiker (described as a male with age not disclosed) who had gotten separated from their group (described as a group of 10 people) and was unable to find his way out from the area. Hiker remained in place and awaited the arrival of emergency crews.
Once emergency crews arrived at the scene, HFD ground personnel hiked in on foot on the White Road Trail and Chopper 1 conducted an aerial search of the White Road Trail. HFD crews found/made contact with the lost hiker and escorted the party to the trailhead/end of White Road. Chopper 1 later sighted the group near the lookout on the trail and they eventually made their way out on their own. All parties were uninjured and did not require any further medical attention.
HFD then turned the incident over to HPD and DLNR DOCARE Officers at the trailhead, where according to HIRSC sources says all parties in the group were cited for trespassing a closed/restricted area.
DLNR officials want to remind the public that the White Road Trail is closed and restricted to the general public. With the recent uptick in popularity on social media, guide books, and Youtube, DLNR DOCARE Officers will continue to enforce rules on the White Road Trail in the upcoming year (2021).
According to HIRSC Scanner Logs for 2020: This is the 2nd rescue operation/incident to happen on the White Road Trail. The first incident was a female hiker who suffered serious injuries and had to be carried out by HFD Rescue personnel and later transported to the hospital for further medical treatment.
The back story of White Road Trail:
White Road Hiking Trail was closed back in late 2006 due to a major 6.9 earthquake that caused damage to the trail and the Upper Hamakua/Kohala Water Ditch system located along the trail.
Repairs were made to the system and surrounding trails mainly for maintenance purposes, however, due to access disputes (trailhead resided on Department of Hawaiian Homeland lease agricultural land) and also safety concerns, the trail was never safely reopened. White Road Hiking Trail is highlighted in many guidebooks, social media photos, and videos, however, due to the recent uprise in popularity, so has trespassing into the area has increased as well.
While popularity rises on social media in many public posts, it does not disclose the true dangers and also hazards involved with this trail.
Since the rise on social media, DLNR DOCARE officers have stepped up enforcement and on many occasions have cited numerous individuals for trespassing and a handful of people had to be rescued by HFD personnel since the trail was closed back in 2006.
There had been efforts/plans in the past to restore access to the trail, however, many roadblocks had prevented any plans from becoming fruition.
According to HIRSC Team statistics/notes via Scanner Log, there is an average of 1-2 rescues to happen on the White Road Trail on a yearly basis.