A jury on Maui ruled Wednesday that the Haleakala Trail on Maui belongs to the state, dismissing Haleakala Ranch Company’s claim to the land.

The decision followed a 14-day jury trial brought by Public Access Trails Hawaii. The Maui-based nonprofit has been advocating since 2011 to secure public access to the historic trail. The state later joined PATH as a co-plaintiff.

Don Young, president of the Haleakala Ranch Company, said he was disappointed in the verdict and will consider the possibility of an appeal. 

“We believe that all landowners in Hawaii should be concerned about the potential impact of this verdict and the risk of other claims arising from the Highways Act of 1892,” Young said, noting that the company has stewarded the land for more than 125 years. 

PATH’s executive director, David Brown, said in a statement that the decision was “ground-breaking.” 

“The court victory today should be celebrated by anyone who wants to recognize, preserve and protect Hawaii’s unique and rich cultural past, including Hawaii’s historical trails,” Brown said.

The next part of the trial will determine the level of public access to the road and how it will be managed.

Read Civil Beat’s related coverage: 

Development Sparks Effort to Designate Historic Coastal Trail on Kauai

Bill Would Give Hawaii Legislators More Power Over Public Trails

Hawaii Land Board Agrees to Study Haleakala Trail, Denies Initiating Land Exchange

Photo: A beach on Maui. (Courtesy of Sunsplash via Flickr)

 Anita Hofschneider

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