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The Lanikai Pillbox hike is probably one of the most popular hikes on Oahu’s windward side. It’s easy to access and a great workout for all hiking levels. But over the past several years, the ridge and WWII bunkers have become so overpopulated with hikers, that residents are concerned the trail itself won’t last long nor will the bunker’s relic beauty.
Erosion and graffiti have been the most apparent signs of overuse. The defacement is also a sign of disrespect to not only our war veterans but Hawaii’s history as well. It is for these reasons the Kailua community has been working with the state to decide on options for the hike, according to a KHON2 News report.
One option would be to close it all together.
Growing up, I used to hike the pillboxes every week. It is tucked between a quiet residential dead-end street. When returning recently, I got a firsthand look at just how much the trail has changed. It definitely is not as quiet as it used to be, with cars zipping in and out of the dead-end street, hikers passing by homes every few minutes. The trail itself has its own “traffic” issues since dozens can be going up and down at a time, making it dangerous on those areas where only one person can fit.
Closing the trail, however, would be a little too extreme of a solution. It would be like closing Diamond Head’s hiking trail, where hundreds go up and down the crater for a view of Oahu’s south side. Both tourist attractions allow visitors to explore Hawaii’s history on foot. Perhaps a better solution would be to prevent further erosion and secure the mountain so that it is safe for hiking.
The community will meet in a month to discuss fixing erosion and traffic problems at the pillboxes.