Walk for the Wild at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge


Saturday, October 14, 2023

Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge hosts the 2nd Annual WALK FOR THE WILD on October 14th, 2023. WALK FOR THE WILD is a unique opportunity to visit a magical destination on MaunaKea with a dozen stations along the limited access 5K Pua Akala loop sprinkled with knowledgeable biologists, botanists, entomologists, and other natural history interpreters. Those of you not able to attend in person, can register and walk 5k wherever you are, and celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week from a distance.

While participation is FREE, you can support the Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR by donating to our team by checking the donate option.

Last year, registration was capped at 400 registrants which were filled up in September. This year the FOHF have raised the number of registrants to 500 and suspect that demand will be equally high, so please register early.

Registration will go live on September 1st – just click on the button below to go to the Friends of Hakalau Forest Team Page where you can donate and/or register for the Walk.

Walk for the Wild
2023 Walk for the Wild Flyer

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) is the largest system of public lands and waters in the world. Home to thousands of iconic wildlife species and the backdrop to some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on earth, NWRS sites are located in all 50 states and are mostly within a couple of hours’ drive from metro areas. There are 588 National Wildlife Refuges across the US, including 11 within Hawaii, 2 units of which are on the Big Island (Hakalau Forest Unit and Kona Forest Unit), the only refuges in Hawaii protecting native forest birds.

WALK FOR THE WILD went nation wide in 2022 as a signature annual event to coincide with National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed the second week of October, this year from October 8– 14, 2023.


Gifts made through WALK FOR THE WILD are administered under contract with NWRS. All donation receipts will be issued by Public Lands Alliance. By donating to Team Friends of Hakalau Forest, your gift will go to FOHF to help support this unique habitat.. In 2022, FOHF received over $7,300 in donations through WALK FOR THE WILD.


Team Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week, by hosting a 5K WALK FOR THE WILD. The WALK featured over two dozen of the most knowledgeable Hawaii rain-forest biologists, entomologists, botanists, and Refuge Leaders. Over 56 Refuges nationally participated in the nationwide WALK celebration.

Above the Hilo rains, several hundred “Walkers” experienced the wonders of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in over four years on Saturday, October 15th.

Natural History Exhibitors, including Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR, Rapid Ohia Death, Birds Not Mosquitoes, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Teaching Change, UH Hilo, and others, shared their and the Forest’s stories

Over 200 “Walkers”, who made it from the loop walk’s 6,500 foot elevation start down the 500 ft elevation drop received a Jack Jeffrey verification sticker at the turn-around point.

Over 70 volunteers helped Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR host this unique community event. Dick Wass, the Refuge’s first Manager, orchestrated the day’s operations, including, with Don Weir, the parking coordination, Jack Jeffrey, the Refuge’s first Biologist, and Bret Mossman, DOFA birder and Friends’ social media guru, jointly coordinated the “expert guides”. Cat Spina, a former Teaching Change leader, coordinated the Exhibitors and “Google Doc’ed” the Team’s every activity. Cathy Lowder, coordinated the Team’s finance, t-shirt sales and exhibit; Layne Yoshida coordinated the all-weather Gate Crew and provided the Tenting for the Team. Leah Messer, the Refuge’s Volunteer Coordinator, ensured that every aspect of the event interfaced seamlessly with the Refuge’s facilities and operations; and Patty Kupchak, created the Team’s on-line registration page and monitored the registration process and communications with registrants.

Click on the images below to enlarge view.

Please watch and share the 2022 WALK FOR THE WILD celebration video – we’re excited to share our success stories. Be sure to check out one of our valued FOHF Board Members and WFTW Team Leader, Ken Kupchak, talking about the 2022 Hakalau Forest NWR WFTW experience at 7 min 25 sec.

Nene Goose. Photo by Dean Masutomi
Sunday Morning at Hakalau Forest. Photo by Dean Masutomi
Hawaii ‘Akepa. Photo by Jack Jeffery
‘Ōhi‘a (ohia), photo by J.B. Friday
Photo by Lauren Gutierrez
Ma‘ohi‘ohi (Stenogyne calaminthoides). Photo by Dean Masutomi