The 1871 Trail refers to the section of coastal trail that originally extended from Nāpō'opo'o south to Ho'okena, and was remade in 1871. The name of the trail is derived from the date of a single correspondence between Henry Cooper, Kona Road Supervisor, and F.W. Hutchinson, Minister of the Interior, dated August 1, 1871: "I have remade two miles of road on the beach across the lands of Ke'ei and Hōnaunau, this improvement was much required as the road had become almost impassable." Historically, the trail was the main artery for coastal travel in the area connecting several villages along its length.
Trails of this type are often referred to as "two-horse trails" because the trail width was built to easily accommodate two horses. In addition, curbstones lined the path helping to delineate the trail so that pack animals could follow it without constant guidance from the rider. This type of trail was constructed during the nearly 80 year period lasting from 1841-1918. In 1918 the trail section north of Hōnaunau was improved for wheeled traffic; however, the section south to Ho'okena was never modified for motorized vehicles.