Kahuku Unit

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been growing. A few years back the park service purchased much of the old Kahuku Ranch and a couple years ago opened this new unit to the public. Like the main area of the park the Kahuku unit is also a product of the eruptions that shape the island, yet with a totally different character.

An old stone wall and gate at Kahuku
An old stone wall and gate at Kahuku

There is an extensive trail system through the new unit, the old ranch roads converted to walking trails. In addition to the ranching history a visitor can explore the volcanic landscape

On our recent visit we walked one of the easiest trails in the park, the Palm Trail. This two mile loop trail starts near the visitor station and crosses both recent lava flows and rich forested kipukas. Along the way passing relics of ranch history, fences, gates, and an enigmatic diamond D carved into the rock.

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Ancient Nothings

An ancient megalith here on Hawaiʻi? That would be cool, check this out!

A YouTube video of a supposed ancient megalith in North Kohala
The video I find linked on a local Facebook group shows a rayed structure on the ground a few miles north of Kawaihae, with lines radiating from a central point for a mile or more, an enormous compass that points at destinations near and far from the islands.

It is a striking feature, but it is quite the jump to claim that this is a geoglyph created by an ancient civilization.

The video explains that the feature is 120,000 years old based on the geologic datings of the lava flows on the western slope of the Kohala. Part of this dating is based on a map of the island inscribed around the compass.

I know this area fairly well, even know some of the local ranchers, I find the evidence provided by the video a bit lacking. There are more than a few real archaeological remains in the area, remains of the rich Hawaiian culture that existed in the area before western contact.

As soon as I looked at the Google satellite imagery I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking at. A few moments of research confirmed my suspicions… The pattern on the ground is a paddock system used to control cattle movements in a section of range land. I am a bit disappointed, but not really surprised.

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Anna Ranch

Often overlooked by tourists driving around the island, Anna Ranch is very much worth the stop. A little piece of island history preserved as it was.

Anna Ranch
The main house at Anna Ranch
At the ranch the paniolo and ranching history of the Waimea area is preserved. The complex of buildings are the heart of a classic Hawaiian ranch. This was the headquarters of a large cattle operation for over a century.

If you catch one of the two daily tours you get to see the interior of the house and hear stories about the history of the ranch. The tour is really the best way to properly visit Anna ranch.

You will hear about the indomitable Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske who ran the ranch through much of the twentieth century. A horsewoman and cattle expert she successfully kept the family ranch profitable, creating the ranch you see today. It was her dream to see the ranch preserved as a heritage center. Now run by a non-profit organization the ranch is listed in the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places, and on the National Register of Historic Places.

After the tour you can roam the gardens and the short “Discovery Trail” that leads behind the buildings. Along the trail there are interpretive signs that provide another view into the history of the area. This includes a bit on a historic battle that occurred on the hills behind Waimea.

An enclosed lanai at Anna Ranch
Unfortunately the smithy was not open for our visit. I have always enjoyed watching a blacksmith at work. Nothing like a forge and hot steel, one of the oldest technologies, to catch the fascination of an engineer like myself. I will have to stop in again some time.

The daily tours are conducted at 10am and again at 1pm. The cost is $10/person and reservations are highly recommended. You might find a spot on a tour at last minute, but do not count on it. Otherwise visiting the ranch is free, unless you stop in the little gift shop.

After so many years of driving past, I am glad we stopped in to see this gem of Waimea history.