The west side of the loop is much more interesting than the east side (the power line road). The west side has several kīpukas and lots of relatively smooth pāhoehoe for an enjoyable hike. About 1.3 miles from the Pu'u O'o trailhead, there's a roughly quarter-mile stretch of ʻaʻā, but that's all. About 4.75 miles from the trailhead, the west side of the loop intersects with the power line road. The power line road takes you back to Saddle Road over 3.5 miles of loose rock. It was cloudy when I hiked it, so I can't speak to any views from the power line road. Regarding the west side of the loop, however, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get back to the trailhead before dusk sets in. The cairns marking the trail can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from the rest of the lava field if the light is low.

The trail was very rocky so not the most comfortable hike for anyone with knee or ankle problems. I did get great pictures in front of Mauna Kea on this hike so I would say I wasn't too disappointed. The distance to the Lava Tube was comfortable and easy (no inclines).

backpacking
7 months ago

on Kaumana Trail

Saturday, June 18, 2016

hiking
Monday, February 22, 2016

Fascinating hike over a lava trail with a couple of short sections through forests. However, I would not call it easy since there are several steep slopes with loose gravel and one needs good boots and decent balance in other sections. The trail is of interest to bird watchers and those curious about volcano ecology. For a shorter hike just go in two miles or so and there is good variety. Great views of the observatories on Mauna Kea.