"KIPUKA PUNAULU and MAUNA LOA" Top 5 Page for this destination Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Things to Do Tip by mtncorg

  Birds hiding among the bushes of Kipuka Punaulu
by mtncorg

Kipuka is an island of vegetation surrounded by lava flows. Just off HI 11 and the NW side of Kilauea crater, up the Mauna Loa Strip Road, is Kipuka Punaulu. In this native forest, you can hear and catch glimpses of rare native Hawaiian bird species. There is a 1.2 mile nature trail with self-guiding signs to help explain what you are seeing.

For more adventure, think of hiking to the top of Mauna Loa, 13677 feet/4169 m high, Hawaii's second highest peak. Mauna Loa Trail takes off from the end of the Strip Road at Lookout Shelter - 13.5 miles up from HI 11 at 6626 feet/2031 meters. Water is key to this hike. Start with plenty and know you have to carry a lot. There is a cistern 7.5 miles out at Red Hill Cabin - 10025 ft/3059 m - where you spend the first night out. Then 11.6 miles to the Mauna Loa Cabin, where there is another water cistern - check water availability from the Park HQ before moving out - atop the summit crater - Moku'aweoweo Caldera. If peakbagging is your game, Mauna Loa Cabin - 13250 ft/4039 m - is on the east side of the crater, but the true summit is on the west side, 4.5 miles away from the cabin. Moku'aweoweo is as vast as Kilauea and has considerable volcanic activity. Backcountry permits need to obtained and advance registration from the Park Headquarters. Note permits for the climb are on a first-come basis, not in advance of your visit. Only 16 hikers are allowed per cabin per day. Altitude can be a problem on top, especially since it is gained so quickly. Warm clothing, camping gear including a sleeping bag good to 0 F and a water purification system should be brought along with sturdy boots for the wicked lava you will walk up and down. It is quite an experience apart from the normal beach trip. The stars are just as wild and close from Mauna Loa as from the observatories atop its sister volcano to the north - Mauna Kea. See: http://www.nps.gov/havo/visitor/ml.htm for detailed info on the climb. Lastly, snow can extend down to Red Hill Cabin in the winter months.

Address: P.O. Box 52, Hawai'i National Park, HI 96718-0052
Directions: 96 miles from Kailua-Kona driving southeast on HWY11 (2 to 2 1/2 hour drive) or 30 miles from Hilo (45 minute drive).
Phone: 808.985.6000
Website: http://www.nps.gov/havo/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written May 15, 2004
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