The actual hiking trail is called "Humu'ula Trail" and starts a couple hundred yards up the street from the Eliison Onizuka Visitor's Center on the left side of the street. I am in decent condition (ran a marathon a couple month's before this hike) and have hiked Mt Whitney and Halfdome and this is not an easy day hike. I'd consider it moderately difficult. The hiking trail is 6 miles (while the road is 8 miles) to the top. The first 2.5 - 3 miles on the trail are the most difficult with several steep sections. The first half of the hike is also through soft sand which made it more difficult to get your footing on the steep sections. I started at 9:15 am and the temperature at the visitor center was 65 degrees. It took me just under 5 hours to reach the summit where the temperature was about 40 degrees (according to their website). According to my Garmin, there's about 4600 ft of elevation gain over 6 miles, with the steepest sections occuring in the first half of the hike. The best way to describe the terrain is a moonscape of lava rocks and sand. There are no trees, so you are exposed to the sun the entire hike. Bring sunscreen and lots of water. I had a 100 oz. camelback and used up all the water by the time I reached the summit. That's when I decided to catch a ride on the way back down to the visitor's center (rather than hike it). Why not? You're in Hawaii for rest and relaxation. Enjoy the ride down!
Drove to the Observatory area and walked to the summit...first time over 10,000 feet, so definitely felt it.
In 1986, I could not rent a car with fuel injection, so my Asian rental car gave out at 9,500'. I hitched a ride to the top and walked up the snow field. It was warm on top and I glissaded down (have to bring skis next time). HP #19. Got all 50 in 2002.
Drove all the way up, only intended to spend a couple hours but the staff was so informative and friendly we stayed until after sunset touring the telescopes, learning about the work there, and enjoying the views.
Had the 4WD but decided to hike the 4600'. Unbelievable views and weather. Plan was a twofer but I managed to make myself car sick driving the one lane road to the Mauna Loa trailhead. Next time.
First full day on Hawaii activity. Coming from Idaho it seemed appropriate to do the hike first thing before we fully acclimatized to sea level. Hiked from the visitor center. Just a very long hike. Only 1/2 of the nine that started out that day summitted. We started at 10:30 a.m., which is a lot later than we normally do. We adjusted our start time to come down later and closer to the program start for the star gazing at the visitor center. Unfortunately the gazing was a no go because the cloud bank didn't recede lower than the center, which apparently it usually does. Trail up and road down. What a treat to summit the tallest peak in the world, counting all the underwater size of course.
... took the tour bus to the top of the road. But I did have to climb the side hill to get to the actual USGS marker! (so... I'll have to go back some day to 'earn it')
with my mom... great place to view stars...
Drove up and the instant altitude still makes those last couple steps hard. Great views over the Big Island, Mauna Loa and over to Maui. Nice stars - as you'd expect at an observatory - but awfully cold!
Hiked the trail to the summit from the Visitor Center. Walked the road on the way back. Awesome summit views!
Drove the road both times. Awesome sunset views. Watching the mountain's shadow creep off the clouds below and up into the sky as the sun set was the best part of the show.
Great, easy hike. It felt like the moon. Started at the visitor center and hiked to the summit via the Humu`ula Trail. I also stopped by the lake. 4:10 car to car
Even though I did 4 14ers in the 2 weeks prior I was a bit lightheaded on the short hike from the parking area to the summit. Amazing what a week at 0ft will do for the acclimatization. Oh, and I drove the road in a Dodge Caliber.
Ok, it was a short hike up the highest point from the road so I figured I could survive in beach shorts. Boy it was cold for Hawaii! While gone, Park Ranger knocked on window to ask my wife if our infant child was ok. Pictures at http://www.willhiteweb.com/state_highpoint/hawaii/mauna_kea_161.htm
I drove up the road after finishing my hike up Mauna Loa. Mauna Kea was still covered in snow about 13000ft. It was 35 degrees at the summit. Took about 10 minutes to walk to the summit
Couldn't have had a better day. Long hike in the deep snow left over from the storm the week before. Who knew Hawaii had snow like this? A lot of locals at the top enjoying the snowboarding and skiing.
We called the information line in the morning and found that the road had been cleared to the summit. Amazing! So we headed up and found that we were not the only ones wishing to use their holiday to drive up to Mauna Kea. Huge numbers of vehicles, many of them big 4WD pickups being used to haul snow back down the mountain. We finally got to the top where we found fog, high winds, and whiteout conditions. We bundled up, talked to a couple of guys who seemed interested in going with us, invited them to come along even though they weren't prepared. They did want to come along, so we led them over there. Without GPS we wouldn't have been able to find the summit, but with it we found it easily after struggling through the deep snow. Never saw a view, unfortunately.
Actually Kelly and I drove up to the observatory (4,198 m/13,796 ft), then we started hiking and summiting all of the small peaks of this huge volcano.
We had an awesome time and weather. We didn't know we could find snow in Hawaii, we didn't use eye protection, so Kelly got snow blindness. We drove down to Hilo Hospital were she got medical attention.
Didn't do the hike, but scrambled through two feet of fresh snow from the observatories just to make a point of actually being at the top. A ranger was watching my friend and I with concern as we had just driven up from Hilo and hadn't bothered to change out of our shorts and sandals!
Drove up with my dad. Nice daddy-daughter peak. Plan to return and do the hike.