Shrub land picnicking and lodging opportunities at a 6500-foot elevation. Good views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Pig, sheep and bird hunting nearby. Dry and clear weather with cold nights. Periodic military maneuvers nearby may disrupt the peace and quiet of the area.
We rented a 4x4 Explorer from Harpers and went up Saddle Road from the Kona side. At the crest of Saddle Road, the world opened up into a surreal landscape covered in cinder cones; we knew going from sea level to almost 14000 feet would be quite an elevation change, so we decided to climb the short hike to the top of Puu Huluhulu to acclimate and take in the views. The trail started out from the left of the parking lot along a fairly flat path that then gently sloped up and then took a right turn up the cone. The area was like an oasis, with grasses and trees. The top had great views off into the distance, plus some cool views down the cone to the parking lot - it looked like you could just slide down the cone, but we decided against it as we would damage the environment plus could take a tumble through volcanic glass/rocks. Turns out the short hike was not quite enough acclimation and I recommend you also stop a while, maybe 20-30 minutes at the Visitor's Center. We drove right past it and while we didn't get headaches or get dizzy, but walking was a challenge when we first got out of the truck from less oxygen in the air. The whole trip was awesome and Puu Huluhulu really gave us a taste of what we saw up on Mauna Kea. Great short hike with some surrealistic views. Highly recommend this quick stop.
This was a major highlight of our trip to the Big Island. We went in February and wouldn't you know it snowed at the summit and had white out conditions in the drive down. Very exciting for a couple from Alaska to see it snow on such a beautiful tropical paradise! The altitude was not as big of a deal as previously thought but time spent at the visitors center certainly helped to acclimate a bit. Can't wait to return to hopefully some better weather where I expect the views will be amazing. A must see and bucket list check!
Undoubtedly the most amazing spectacle I've ever had the fortune of experiencing. Sunrise/sunset from the summit is, in my opinion, one of the things everyone should experience before they die. As far as hiking goes this is a very strenuous venture which, coupled with the high altitude (14,200ft?) at the summit, can prove impossible for some. Caution must be observed when hiking to spot the rapid onset of altitude sickness & hypoxia if one is not acclimated to higher altitudes (very deep, slow, conscious breathing throughout the hike will help prevent this). Also the temperature varies throughout the hike from freezing at night to blazing hot during the day, so one must account for this. Despite these factors, the hike is a must for everyone who is physically capable of completing it & somewhat adept at hiking difficult trails. Watching the sun rise above the cloud cover casting a silhouetted shadow of mauna kea against the clouds behind you; maybe even looking down (that's right, looking down) at airliners making their approach through the cloud ceiling into the islands; truly a sight to behold and one you shall never forget.