Saturday, April 11, 2009

Underrated Kalopa Native Forest State Park

Let's go out on a limb and say Kalopa is Hawaii's best bet for tree and plant lovers who want to take a stroll in the park or a walk in the woods. Set at a cool 2,000 feet about 15 miles south of Waipio Valley on the Hamakua Coast, the park's well-kept gardens and grounds and arboretum surround a picnic pavilion and some of the island's best rustic cabins.

This pretty setting is enveloped by 500 acres of native forest with miles of hiking trails through towering broadleafs and tropical trees, the home to lots of happy native and exotic birds.

If the Big Island weren't so big, Kalopa State Park would be hum with visitors. As it is, only a relatively few tourists make the several-mile drive up to Mauna Kea's lower slopes to take in this world of plants. Volunteers help unusually dedicated staff uphold the park's long-standing reputation as a top-flight nature fix.