Hinakapoula to Halnoa Crater Trail is a 10.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Kailua Kona, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
as written by others the trail is on Hawaiian native property but on the 4th of July at least was not patrolled and others seemed used to using it. this is a ATV road that services a variety of microwave and broadcasting Towers on the way up Hualalai. It is not a difficult hike but with clouds and fog not much to see by way of views. the cinder cone looking down into the crater is a great place to picnic. Hawaii Forest & Trail has a post that they lead towards in there and have permission. they have a blog post that says there is another crater with parrots in it but we didn't find that one.
The starting point is at the end of Huehue Street. There are numerous ways to get to hike up to of Hualalai but most involve some degree of trespassing. The trail is wide and gradual, which is essentially a 4wd trail. It is best to get a topo map and study it before making your way in here as there are many side trails and junctions. The mountain is wide and trails are long so be prepared. There are many craters and pits( some worth visiting and some not) so plan accordingly as the distances to each pit/crater can be far. There are no signs or mile markers or water along the way but there is a cabin with water tank which is owned by Kamehameha Schools. The trail is not shaded and it can get pretty hot at some parts. Once you hit the upper slopes. it cools down considerably. The peak is over 8 thousand feet and it I a bit tricky to find it.
I walked 4 hours down and back on this trail. The guard is apparently no more, and you just climb over the gate. There are actually 5 different gates that I passed at different stages of the trail. However, other than the distant views, I don't think I got anywhere close to the summit. I did pass a red cabin near a Bishop forest project that had running water and fresh apples. The sign on the front read "Uluha'a a Hualalai". Deeper in there were a number of Eucalyptus tree plantings wrapped in blue containers. I thought at this point I was near the summit, but then I took the next switchback which led into some deep cloud forest and yet another higher peek. It was getting quite cold and rainy. I had to turn around at this point to make it back before dark. I followed the main 4WD path along the way. There were occasional forks to places such as the radio antennas that you see near the beginning.
I did start kind of late (around 10 AM), so if I started at 6 AM (first light) I could probably get another 2 hours down the road but probably still not summit based on the length published here. How are people actually getting to this summit? I hear Hawaii Forest & Trails might do this, but it is not a packaged tour and could get quite expensive. I will probably not go back until I can piece together a way to get to the summit. Also remember to bring a hiking stick because you can slip on the loose gravel.
As pointed out by several sites describing this trail, OFFICIAL PERMISSION is absolutely required from Kamehameha Schools/ Bishop Estate who owns the land through which you access this trail. Recently there has been a growing number of visitors trespassing through the locked gate, despite signs. Because of liability concerns, fears of danger to the delicate ecology of the area, and increasing vandalism, some quite serious, there currently is a paid guard there who will take photos of anyone approaching, and their cars, inform them that there is a process to acquire permission, and of course turn them away if they don't have any. Btw---very few, aparently, are granted permission to access this trail. There are other trails that lead to the summit of Mt. Hualalai, but they are also accessed through KSBE property.