"Saddle Road aka Haunted Highway" Personal Page by triplehelix
Saddle Road (HWY 200) is probably not your safest bet to survival in paradise. If you would like stunning views of all our mountains, than by all means drive safely when you go there. WARNING! Your rental agency will forbid you to drive on this road because it is a liability. I can't remember how many times I've been stuck behind a tourist wandering where they shouldn't tred. Otherwise, I LOVE THIS PLACE!! Saddle runs 54 miles through the island and sits in between Mauna Kea and Mouna Loa. There have been several legends and stories about travel through here concerning ancient spirits and unknown lights. Saddle runs over and near the "King's Trail" which in Hawaiian lore was the trail in which Kamehameha's soldiers walked. To this day, many have reluctantly come into contact with the "night marchers" with horrific stories to tell. There's also the legend of "Kama Pua'a" or the Pig Child who resides as the God of Rain in the mountains. Legend has it that if you see a pig on the road, it is most likely the animal form of Kama Pua'a. You can read tons of stories about this trecherous place called Pohakuloa (Long Rock).
As seen here, this road has claimed many lives because of its need for resurfacing. Residents do not live a higher elevations partly due to it being a military installation. Travel at your own risk and don't let the rental company find out!
Mauna Loa, Hualalai, and Kilauea are the three active volcanoes on the island. As seen here, Mauna Loa can be seen in its entirety on a nice day. Travel further on towards Hilo and you'll see the last lava flow that covered over the road in 1984.
Mauna Kea is the worlds tallest peak from ocean bottom to top. In the winter time, Mauna Kea is also a premiere spot for skiing (yes we have that in Hawaii!). Travel up the Mauna Kea Access Road and find a large lake in the frigid summit. Mauna Kea is also home to the world famous Keck and Subaru Observatories which discovered several unseen satellites around Jupiter and Saturn. The mountain is no longer a volcano and has been dormant for approximately 6,000 years. In the extremely unlikely event that it should erupt, say goodbye to the Big Island. The mountain would bury everything completely.
Hualalai is one of three active vocanoes. It's last eruption was over 200 years ago in 1801. One might say it is long over due for one. Hualalai might be small but could pack a hell of a punch. Kailua-Kona is only a few miles away from the summit and if an eruption should happen, it will be covered in a very short time. Hualalai also shares the same chamber of magma as Mauna Loa (last eruption 1984). Along the sprawling hill sides are several golf courses and luxury condos. The famous Parker Ranch occupies a good part of the area around it as well.
Beside Mauna Kea there are several cinder cones as seen here. You'll find many of these in Hawaii. Cinder cones are formed when small flares sputter out from the flanks of a volcano. It can also form in areas where an eruption is not as concentrated creating a mound of loose cinder deposits. On Saddle Road, there are a few cones you can hike up as there are trails going around them.
Much of the area in the mountainous region is off limits to civilians. The area poses a big threat to the untrained wanderer. This area is used as a millitary training field so if you decided to wander off the beaten path, you may run into land mines or unexploded granades. Parts of the area can be accessed by hunters but again, those who are untrained should not venture off alone or even together.
At times, you may be stopped on the road ways to let millitary vehicles pass. This is not an uncommon thing, you may see them carrying large containers into the field containing who knows what. I'm telling you, it's like area 51 down there. Strange lights, restrictions...
If you are looking for accomidations this is the only place in the mountain to stay other than roughing it. You will need a pass from Parks and Recreation to reserve a bungalow so it's not like a normal hotel reservation. Walk further on in the camp grounds and you'll be treated to stunning views! It gets freakishly cold there so take extra sweaters with you.
Dotted along the eastern edge of Mauna Kea, you will see what looks like spider cones. Since it's very moist on that side, plants grow into the cinders creating a nice and natural sight.
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