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Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Corp.


Hiking Safety

We are an ohana of volunteers and enthusiasts dedicated to enjoying, protecting and conserving Hawaii’s extensive network of hiking trails. Oahu trails can be as treacherous as they are beautiful. Every year, dozens of people become lost, injured, and/or need to be rescued in Hawaii’s mountains. Most of these incidents are avoidable. 

It is our belief that every hiker is responsible for their own safety. Below are general recommendations on how to hike smart and safe. This information is intended for informational purposes only. Please read the Disclaimer/Hiking Policies and Procedures.

Establishing a Hike Plan 

It is important, regardless if you are hiking solo or with a group, that you are findable. Share your Hike Plan, especially if you plan to hike solo;  it can be very helpful to search and rescue teams in the case of an emergency. Medical problems and/or environmental emergencies may occur. HTMC does not encourage solo hiking

The 4 steps below will help if a rescue is needed.

Step 1: Select Your Trail Angels: Select at least two people who agree to be your Trail Angels. Your Trail Angels should have each other’s contact info.  

Step 2: Information Sharing: Provide your Trail Angels with the following information:

    • Your cell phone number and any satellite device you may carry with you. Include the same info for others in your group.
    • Your emergency contact info (and for everyone else in group)
    •  Special medical conditions for you and other members of your group
  • Car make, model, and license plate #

Step 3: Before Your Hike: Text or Email your Trail Angels your Hike Plan:  

    • Trailhead location
    • Planned route
    • Estimated start & return time  
    • Send a selfie or let them know what you are wearing. Do this for all members of your group. 
    • Bring your phone and leave it turned on along with the location access so you can be located if needed (backup phone charger recommended)
  • Make sure they know to call 911 if there is no response from you upon hike completion.

Send your message before you reach the trailhead; some trailheads do not have good cell reception.

Stick to your plan. Only change your plan if you update your Trail Angels.

Step 4: After Your Hike: Text or Email your Trail Angels to let them know you are out safely. 

Hike Safety Tips


    • Make a Hike Plan
    • Hike with a partner or a club.
    • Even the most skilled and fit hikers can fall or suffer illnesses/debilitating injuries. Be aware that many trails venture into areas with no or very poor cell signal. A hiking companion can offer aid, call for help, and might save your life.
    • Know your own capabilities and limitations.
    • Hike informed: research the trail before you go.
    • Check multiple sources for a better understanding of trail conditions and how long it might take you.
  • Check weather conditions. Stay alert for unexpected flash flooding. 

Head to toe: 

    • Sturdy footwear with good tread
    • Wear appropriate clothing for sun, rain, insects, and overgrown trail protection. Wear quick dry type materials; avoid cotton. Long pants and sleeves provide skin protection. 
  • Wear or bring something brightly colored so you are visible if a rescue is needed

Carry in your pack:

    • Sun protection – sunscreen, sunglasses, hat/clothes
    • Rain gear (for you and a rain cover for your pack). Bring extra layers in case you get wet and cold 
    • Insect repellent
    • Water. Make sure to bring enough for the length of the trail, time of year, weather, and how much you drink. Recommend 2-3 liters for a day hike. 
    • Food. Include snacks, lunch, and bring extra just in case you end up staying out longer than anticipated.
    • Cell phone & back-up battery charger (watch – suggested)
    • Navigation tools – paper map, compass, and/or electronic device
    • Emergency Space Blanket
    • Flashlight with extra batteries (head lamp ideally)
    • Whistle/signal mirror
    • Duct tape/knife/repair kit 
  • Hiking poles and microspikes: helpful on steep muddy terrain and stream crossings.

Happy Hiking:

    • Start every hike by cleaning your boots and spray them with rubbing alcohol to help save our endangered native forests.
    • Start hikes early; allow yourself time to get back.
    • Stay on the trail. Staying on the designated trail helps to prevent avoidable injuries, lost hikers, and erosion. 
    • Avoid the shortcuts between switchbacks; they cause erosion.
    • Look where you step. Many trails are eroded, unstable, and have steep drop offs.
    • Stay together or regroup and monitor everyone’s condition.
    • Keep an eye on time and weather. Set a turnaround time, monitor your progress on the hike, and adjust your turnaround time if warranted. 
    • Take caution while crossing streams. Be aware of slippery rocks and rising water levels.
    • Avoid undue risks. Use common sense and good judgment.
    • Don’t forget to hydrate and take snack breaks. Never drink the stream water unless it has been filtered/treated.

All Pau:

    • When finished, contact those with whom you shared your Hike Plan to inform them you have returned.
  • Don’t forget to clean your boots and spray with rubbing alcohol prior to your next hike!


    • Call or Text 911 – Ask for Fire Rescue
    • Be Visible – Wear a brightly colored item and use a signal mirror 
    • Be Noisy – Blow on your whistle
    • Stay Calm – Keep a positive attitude
    • Stay Put – Stay in one place to increase your chances of being found and avoid further trouble.
  • Stay Warm – Stay dry and protected from the elements. Set up an emergency shelter, wear additional layers, and use the space blanket    (Mahalo to the Na Ala Hele safety pamphlet)

Social Media Recommendation

HTMC has a no-post social media hike policy on all trails that are not state trails in order to protect the trails from being “loved to death” and to discourage hikers from going on hikes for which they are not prepared or are beyond their experience level.