The 5 Most Haunted Hikes on O‘ahu
There are some trails on O‘ahu that everyone knows are haunted, but did you know these five?
This story originally appeared online in October 2013.
Photo: Courtesy Lopaka Kapanui
Hawai‘i is rich with ancient culture, making it a purported hotbed for the spirits of ancestors, warriors, gods and goddesses of the past. You don’t have to go sneaking around cemeteries or haunted houses to find them, either. There are many trails in nature more prone to hauntings than others—you just have to know where to look (or, in the case of night marchers, NEVER look). We consulted Lopaka Kapanui, storyteller and founder of the Mysteries of Hawai‘i ghost tours, to tell us about some lesser-known hiking paths and their haunted histories.
Kamehameha III’s summer mansion, built in 1845, is a historic site in upper Nu‘uanu. While the path is mostly hidden from passersby and you have to trek through a bamboo forest to reach the ruins, those who have made the journey at night report that a presence accompanied them on their walk back to the main road, even calling their names. Pictures, videos and recordings are said to have revealed spirits walking up to the site, which is supposedly a meeting point of the night marchers, who you can clearly hear speaking Hawaiian to each other. Always remember that if you venture into the path of the night marchers, legend says you should be prepared to strip naked and lie face down until they pass, lest you be punished for being disrespectful.
Kapanui suggests another place to witness night marchers (safely, from afar): at Yokohama on the West Side of the island. From the Ke‘awa‘ula trail, on a dark enough night, you may be able to see torchlights from the marchers’ procession coming over the ridge from Mokulē‘ia. Their path continues past the satellite tracking stations to the bathrooms near the beach as they head toward the ocean—just don’t look directly at them.
‘Aiea Loop Trail
Though this is a popular trail, Kapanui says it’s also known for menehune, and not in the middle of the night, either—recent sightings of little men around the beginning of the trail have been said to occur mainly at 11 a.m. According to Kapanui’s sources, they hang around the trail because a family feeds them, but some visitors to the trail have been tampering with the offerings.
Old Pali Road
Everyone is familiar with the legend warning not to bring pork over the Old Pali Road or your car will stop. This is said to be Pele refusing to let Kamapua‘a, a hog god, pass into her territory in any form. The Old Pali Road also has an unmarked trail to the left of it when you’re heading from the Windward Side toward the lookout, but Kapanui believes you won’t get away with carrying pork there, either. If you forgot about that manapua you brought as a snack in your backpack, you just might find you’re not alone on your way back.
The abandoned Kiona‘ole Road is said to be haunted in three ways: by murder victims whose bodies were dumped there, by restless spirits residing in a tree (Kapanui says not to get too close to it or they may transfer to you), and by warriors who survived the fall from the Pali during the famous battle at Nu‘uanu and were then pursued and slaughtered by Kamehameha’s men. According to a former resident of the area, those warriors’ bodies were left out in the sun to rot without a proper burial. They now haunt the small, unmarked trail to the right of the road where there are laua‘e ferns. When people pick the ferns, many of them report being followed home by shadowy figures. Some have fallen ill, while others are haunted by terrifying nightmares. Returning the ferns can sometimes remedy the situation, but, chances are, if you take the ferns, nothing can help you.