Had to settle for Mauna Loa since Mauna Kea was closed for "feral animal eradication." When the rangers told me they would be shooting moving targets out of a helicopter, I decided it was better to find something else to hike. Mauna Loa was a fine substitute, maybe even better in some ways. However, after you hit the crater rim, it seems like it goes on forever just to gain a few hundred feet to the true summit. 5.5 hours round trip.
6,662' - 13,678' (7,016' gain) in 19.5 miles. I started the Mauna Loa trail at 6:45am at the Mauna Loa Lookout trailhead and arrived at Mauna Loa Summit Cabin at 5:56pm. I hiked up to the summit before dropping down to the cabin (where I slept). The next day I hiked 20.7 miles down the mountain on the Ainapo trail arriving to Highway 11 at 6:15pm. This might not seem like a very fast pace, but the terrain was pretty rugged.
Started at 11,100' and went to the summit. This trail and summit are like no other I have been on. I was always in awe of the terrain and the surroundings I found myself in. The cairns are majestic and very much needed. I constantly found myself walking on what looked like glitter, bright blues, pinks, oranges and greens strewn along the trail. When I got to the caldera and looked down I actually felt dizzy, not because of altitude but because of how wide and deep this crater is. I have never experienced a mountain like this. Mauna Loa will always hold a special place in my heart.
#1 04-16-2021 W/ Lana A trail filled with unique views and ever-changing terrain. 5-10 mph winds and clear skies. What a magnificent change-of-pace from most other peaks. We truly enjoyed it. The one-lane road (17+ miles) off of the Saddle Road is quite the experience in and of itself! Ascent time was a little over 5 hours. This hike calls for good hiking boots, not trail running shoes.
I'd hoped to climb the state high point on this trip but protests had closed it down. So I climbed the highest "accessible" point in the state. Probably good luck because this was a cool hike. Highly recommended.
In 79 my friend in Kona said he was going up Mauna Loa, and asked if I wanted to go. Hitch-hiked to Mauna Loa Rd. then up to 6,700 ft, the end of the road, my friend needed an extra day to acclimatize at the 10,000 ft cabin, then we reached the summit cabin, talked a little smack with madame Pele, I'm not so bright, so, then came the storm, oh waite first came the trail maintenance kids with their supervisors, then came the storm. 70-90 mph winds, horizontal rain and hail, gnarly storm, the joint was a rocken. 2 days later the kids left by heli, and we walked back down, The view from the summit after the storm simply the best, we could see at least 5 islands and so clear. the air sparkaled, worth it once and a lifetime walk no climbing walking with every step a little higher, big mountain, cheers, Gregjames
Parked at Mauna Loa Observatory about 9AM. I was surprised that the entire drive from the Saddle Road was paved. The Google Streetview was a little old and still showed it as an unpaved road. There were about 6 cars in the parking area when we got there. Summit by 1pm and back to car by 4:30. About 40 degrees with a stiff breeze and sunshine the whole way. I didn't acclimatize at all and started getting a headache about 12,500 feet and had that headache for a day or so. Trail was pretty easily signed, but I imagine it can get tougher when its socked in.
If you lost your Arcteryx vest near the hikers parking lot, email me with the colour and size at email@example.com, and we can make shipping arrangements :) I probably ran into you near the top. Beautiful day--I had unfinished business, as we "only" made it to within 15 min of the true summit last Nov as we were running short of day light. This time, I started earlier and took 7.5 hours return, (incl. approx. 1 hr worth of breaks). I love lava, but it gets pretty tedious on the way down. Hiking boots and navigation equipment highly recommended!
My first high altitude hike and it taught me a lesson. I did the Observatory Trail. I arrived at the trail head at around 1130 am and acclimatized for about 1 hour. I knew that I had to leave soon if I wanted to reach the summit in time before sunset. Hiking back down in the dark would be too dangerous and simply foolhardy. Within 30 minutes of the hike, I start getting a headache. I did not acclimatize enough. I hiked up to the North Pit with a couple from Québec, Ontario. About 1 hour away from the cabin, I had mild altitude sickness. I was weak, had a headache, my heart rate was higher than usual and I just wanted to slump down on the volcanic rocks and sleep on the rocks. However I made it to the cabin and past hikers gratefully left their sleeping bags (at night it gets close to 0 degrees). I slept overnight in the cabin and my AMS got worst. Morning came and getting down seemed impossible every 5 steps I took, I was winded. Luckily I made it back. What an experience it was, if I could do it again I would. The Mokuaweoweo crater is breathtaking; the depth and size of it will truly leave you speechless. As a rookie, this hike has taught me a lot and has reinforced my love for mountaineering. My next projects; Kilauea to Mauna Loa Summit, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. Cheers!
The Observatory Trail is superlative... remoteness, ruggedness, altitude, prominence... all from a walk-up. Altitude sickness was an issue when starting the day in Hilo, though... I got a little loopy and that last mile was neverending.
The caldera is insane, but it's hard to take in the view when insects are dive-bombing your face thanks to all the "offerings" people have placed at the summit cairn!
Saw nobody else the entire day. Glorious. Can easily see why the ancient Hawaiians considered it a supernatural realm.
... I did not care for the jagged lava rocks. I was able to figure out a nice shortcut on the ascent but opted to take the full Observatory Trail route during the descent. The caldera view was awesome. I had the entire trek virtually all to myself, only seeing one spider, one fly, and... much later... one hiker, during the climb. My wife and I celebrated our Hawaii trip later that evening with a great luau in Kona.
Living at sea level has made me soft! Incredible view of the caldera. Wrecked havoc on my boots.
Neat hike, bring a lot of water!
Hiked with Alika and Nicole via the Ob Trail. Such a spectacular place. Summit was outstanding. Overnighted at the summit cabin, which is on the opposite side of the caldera from the actual summit. Was a treat to eat dinner overlooking the crater.
23/12/2015: Solo trail run from Mouna Loa Road 3.5 miles below the trailhead (due to the fallen tree blocking the road). Came to within a mile of the intersection with Observatory Trail and turned around due to weather. 37 miles roundtrip, 7,000' elevation gain. Total time: 11h35m, moving time 09h56m. Interesting lava running, great views!
25/12/2015: Solo trail run to the summit and back on Observatory Trail. 13.3 miles roundtrip, 2,800' elevation gain, total time: 4h10m. Beautiful weather, incredible summit views.
We also went to the top of the following: Kilauea, Pu'upua'i, Mauna Ulu, Puu Huluhulu, Pu'uwaiau, Puu Hau Kea, Mauna Kea, Puu Kea, Pu'uhau'oki, Puu Poliahu, Puu Kalepeamoa, Kilohana.
For pictures and videos see the full trip report.
Hiked up with Caren. She decided to forgo the summit about 250' and 1.5 miles below but still got great views of the caldera. We made it down before the rain storm hit.
Standard route up the Observatory Trail, then visited 1949 Cone and 1940 Cone, then across the crater. Trip Report.
pretty good little hike when you're hungover...
Very unique place, with an unbelievably large crater. Round trip time was 5 hours, 10 minutes from the car.