Distance: 6.68 mi.
Elevation Gain: 4826 ft.
We stayed at the Namakanipaio Campground in Volcano National Park the night before our climb for $10 + park entrance ($25 if you don’t have an annual pass). Totally worth it for the 1/2 mile walk to the Kilauea Crater for a nighttime view of the hot lava lake, plus a little help with acclimation since it sits at 4,000 feet. We arrived at the Mauna Kea Visitor Center at a little over 9,000 feet around 11 AM and signed in for our hike. The trail starts across the street and a bit above the visitor center.
We took it slow and steady due to the altitude. We eventually reached the spur trail to Lake Waiau, the highest alpine lake in Hawaii. Definitely worth the very short side trip.
We reached the road crossing at around 3PM and ate lunch in a wind-sheltered spot next to the porta-potties (mmm…). The remaining walk up the road was tough for Vanessa, either due to the altitude or to the leftover pizza lunch. We made it to the Observatory at 4 PM and decided not to take the spur trail to the summit due to a sign suggesting it would be inappropriate according to native culture. We snapped a few photos at the Observatory and then a couple from Quebec, who had driven the road the entire way up, offered to give us a ride down. With frozen fingers and queasy stomachs, we quickly accepted. What a treat!
(Download the free Gaia GPS app on your phone to view tracks and then get a Gaia GPS membership if you want offline access. Discount below!)
Recommended Brew: Hawai’i Nui Sunset Amber Ale
- Trail runners
- Trekking poles