Mauna Kea-Humu'ula Trail [CLOSED] is a 18.0 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Hilo, Hawaii, Hawaii that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until December.

Distance: 18.0 km Elevation Gain: 1,458 m Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

lake

views

rocky

closed

no shade

historic site

no dogs

Hike the highest mountain in Hawaii (highest mountain in the world if measured from the sea floor), and enjoy views to Moana Loa and to the ocean as well as other islands. This is not a casual hike - come prepared with all the water, calories, and essential items a high-altitude experience demands. Park at the visitor center, self-register anytime, then join the trail a few hundred feet up the road on the left. Six miles of uphill trail with few switchbacks, consisting of loose cinder and rough lava ahead. You will likely be alone - plan for self-reliance. Just below 13,000 feet the trail joins a paved portion of the service road, which, mostly unlaced below, provides a longer but suitable route back.

hiking
no shade
snow
22 days ago

Exposed, can be very hot or very cold. 2 hours to run, 3-3.5 hours to hike up, and about 2 hours down. Prepared for cold and windy or hot and exposed weather conditions! To run it, be familiar with the route general directions at least are hard to spot when moving quickly and fatigued (finding the segment on strava you can easily export the GPX file and download it to any gps watch that has route memory capabilities) Be sure to stop for photos at the lake!! Enjoy!!

hiking
snow
2 months ago

So... I read every review I could find on the internet and somewhere I got the impression that the first 2 miles/ 2000ft were the worst part. The rest was smooth sailing... WRONG!!! Yes the first 2 miles/2000ft are difficult, but so is the rest of the climb because you still have to go another 2000+ ft. It’s ALL uphill with very little relief. To say that any part of this trail was easy... You’re my hero. Now... this trail is def longer than 11.2. With the Lake 0.5 mile, I finished at 7.7 miles up and 7.2+ miles down (my phone died on the final descent. It took me a little less than 7hrs to the top and a little more than 3hrs to the bottom. Everyone said this is an altitude thing. I had no attitude issues. I stay hydrated everyday with at least 120oz of water and this last week I added electrolytes to my routine. I didn’t drink alcohol all weekend, went to the Trailhead on Sunday just to see how my body would respond to the altitude, and I hiked on Tuesday. I took Aleve before I left Hilo and Advil right before I hiked. Then I took Advil again at the top. I carried 4L of water, 2 mixed with electrolytes and 2 just water. Drank all the electrolytes and ½ of the water. Ate a protein bar at 2.5 miles, a peanut butter ritz snack pack at 5 miles and another at the top. I had plenty more but I didn’t really need them. So... the altitude didn’t effect me, so why did I stop so many times, I actually started laughing about it? Because this hike is hard!!! I do 8 miles a day of intentional cardio... hiking/ walking/jogging/ elliptical ing/ stair stepping/ etc. None of that mattered. I have never climbed 4000+ft in my life, I have never been to 14,000ft in my life, and I can count on 1 hand how many times in my life, that I have been in 32 degree weather and never with a wind blowing like this one. It literally fought me the whole way up. I did all my research, I had everything packed that I needed, I treated my body right and prepped the best I could for the altitude, but nothing could prepare me for the elevation climb. There were a couple miles in there I literally stopped every 0.1 mile. All I could do was laugh and keep moving. I prayed a lot that I would get to the top, I was humbled by the demand of it and I was blessed to have done it. I was given a beautiful sunny day. Very few clouds below me. Sunshine all the way. I arrived at the VS at 7AM. I acclimated until 8AM and I got back to the VS at 6:30PM. I took 3 10 min breaks on the uphill and spent some time at the top. I wore full length leggings, a t-shirt, and a long sleeve compression shirt. 2 pairs of hiking socks and hiking boots. Sunglasses and a baseball cap. Later I put on my outer shell of my hiking jacket. I left the fleece lining in the car but probably would have worn it had I had it. I also put on my gloves. I contemplated my face cover but ultimately didn’t want to remove all my gear to get it. I applied sunblock 4 times and my nose still got burnt. I am so glad I did this hike. But it is difficult. For those that said they went up in 3.5 hours, I’m impressed. I’d love to know how you prep for the climb. I’ve never climbed even ½ this elevation and no where near the altitude. So it’s clear, my daily conditioning is not sufficient for this hike. But I made it. Final thoughts... 1-the lake is worth it. It’s a short little stray off the path and it’s beautiful. Do it. Either on the way there or even back. 2-Do not take the road back. It adds 2.5 miles to the hike. I went off trail and found myself by the road. I was too lazy to back track so decided to take the road. Worst decision EVER!!! Hard on my knees, way too much extra distance and time and the cars are zooming up and down the dirt road. Not fun at all. Take the trail back. 3- Don’t count on a ride down. Since I made the mistake of getting on the road and I was already late getting down because of the mileage difference, I tried to hitch a ride back. I know now isn’t a good time with all the social distancing and stuff but no one wanted to pick me up. So I was in a rush to get down before dark. 4-Make a safety plan. I had a hard turn around set for 2PM based on the miles I thought it was. Since it was more I extended that time. Which is why I was racing to beat the sun. My mistake. Lesson learned. Safety plans are for a reason. 5- Allow yourself to stop. Allow yourself to go slow. Give yourself plenty of time and use it. It is worth the work to get to the top but it is work.

hiking
2 months ago

Visitor Center is closed due to Covid-19 but park rangers are still working the park. As others have said, the first two miles are the toughest - both getting used to the thin air and the steepness of the trail. Still some snow to trek through around mile 5 but not too difficult. Up in around 3 and a half, 20 minute break for snacks and pics, down in just over 2 hours. Fairly bleak scenery but a decent challenge, and interesting for its uniqueness.

hiking
no shade
rocky
snow
2 months ago

Did this hike 4 days ago. everything you see in the comments here are true. Stay hydrated and be aware of altitude sickness. I am active and 20 years old and had to stop every 15 steps to take deep yoga breaths. Took us about 9-10 hours to hike from the visitor center to the top. I recommend getting a ride back down. The sunset from the top was amazing!! Next time I'll drive to the top.

hiking
no shade
rocky
snow
2 months ago

What a fantastic hike! My family and I left our condo in Waikoloa which is just about an hour away and was warm that March day at 75 degrees. By the time we reached the visitor center the temperature had dropped to 55 degrees and the lack of air and effects of the altiltude were immediately apparent at 9,100'. The wife and kids value their health so they gave me hugs and kisses and then were on their way to the botanical gardens. As for me, I signed in at the visitor center, crossed the street, then located the trailhead for the initial climb which quickly tests your limits. You start at 9,100' elevation yet need to gain another 2,000' in elevation during the first 2 miles. Loose rock, dirt, and mud made matters even worse, but at least you get this portion of the hike over with at the beginning when you still have the energy. Although that is the steepest section of the climb, it only gets tougher since your legs are already strained and the air keeps getting thinner as you go up. Loose cinder, rough lava, moon-like craters, and volcanic-pebbled slopes guide your way through surreal vistas. I did not see one soul on the trail which only added to the remoteness of this hike. Many times I would remind myself that this is still earth and not another rocky planet. At around 12,000' you approach traces of snow and then begin to view glimpses of the observatories littering the summit. A paved access road flanks the trail, yet for the most part is not visible during the trek - that is until you are about a mile from the summit. At that point, you must follow the shoulder of the access road to the last climb at the top. When approaching the access road and viewing it's steepness I wondered if my legs could take the pace I was keeping. Luckily the shoulder was mostly paved which helps establish enough grip to not slip and make good time. The final ascent to the summit forces you off the access road and up the snowy slope. At the top you're rewarded with great views - or so I'm told. On the day I went it was all fog and clouds at the top, but patches of blue sky and high winds exposed surrounding craters and observatories. This was easily one of the most rewarding hikes I have completed and one I will never forget. You can check out some photos and my recording for more info. https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/mauna-kea-humu-ula-cc02d42?u=i

hiking
rocky
snow
3 months ago

drank plenty of water and no booze the day before. Arrived at visitor center at 7:45 AM, signed in and registered ourselves to hike. Left at 8:15, estimated a 4:30 return to be safe (we ended up not being too far off). What we packed: lots of snacks (ritz crackers, kind bar, cliff bar, paleo bar, goldfish, turkey sand which, energy chews by Gatorade), over 3 liters of water per person, sunscreen, ibuprofen. What we wore: baseball hat, winter hat (swapped between the two), leggings, hiking boots (must), sports top, long sleeve athletic top, Sherpa fleece, ski jacket shell (this was only really needed at the top of the summit so could be optional depending on how hot you run). We had a super clear, sunny day and temperatures ranged from 40 degrees to 20 degrees. There was snow at the top of the hike and summit. What we wish we had done differently: reapplied sunscreen or worn hoods the entire time. We still got burned despite our coverage. Brought another drink aside from water like a Gatorade or vitamin water, got a prescription for diamox- altitude sickness is real. The hike - the first two miles are the steepest. It takes a while to get used to the shortness of breath from the altitude but eventually you do. We took a lot of breaks and made it a point to stop every mile and eat a snack and drink water even when we weren’t hungry or thirsty - this helps with some of the altitude sickness. Miles 3-4 (11,000 feet) were fairly enjoyable with the plan we had in place. We really didn’t feel the altitude sickness symptoms although the whole hike you feel a bit short of breath and light headed. Miles 4-6 (12,000 feet) were challenging. Based on the reviews we were anticipating only a little over 6 miles which we were tracking on an Apple Watch. When we ran into a fellow hiker on his way down, we asked if we were close and we’re discouraged for a moment when we he said we have a far way to go. You reach snow around mile 5. Make sure you stay to the right towards the summit as the path splits at this point to go to the lake. This will add about half a mile each way to Your trip. At this point we were just trying to get to the top of the summit. Miles 6-8 (13,000+) these were by far the most challenging miles. You’re exhausted, the sickness hits with headache and nausea. It’s important to keep taking breaks at this point. We were delighted when we made it to the other side of the large mountain and saw Hawaiians sledding and could see the road to the summit close by. The road to the summit is the last mile. There wasn’t a trail we could find so we walked the road. You can try to hitch hike up to the top because at this point you’re feeling your worst and there are plenty of cars driving to the top. We toughed it out and walked even though the last quarter mile was the hardest of the whole hike. One of us had to stop every few feet to avoid throwing up (she did not end up getting sick). The top: makes it all totally worth it. It’s incredible views and a real feeling of accomplishment for what you just achieved. We reached the summit by 3:15. It’s cold and windy at the top so we were happy to have our jackets. In total we climbed for 7 hours, clocked 8 miles (on Apple Watch) and climbed over 4,000 feet The way down: you have to be back by sunset and we were absolutely exhausted so we opted to hitch hike down. This wasn’t a problem as there were a lot of people at the summit. There was also a very nice ranger and while they aren’t technically allowed to give rides he said he would look out for us. The road down is bumpy and even our driver said he felt the impact of the altitude change. About us: We are from New York City. We arrived in Hawaii on Saturday, February 15th and hiked on the Monday after we arrived. We are two 30 year old females in good shape. One of us just ran a marathon and the other does heavy cardio regularly. This isn’t a hike just about physical fitness (although it helps) but it’s also a mental game and a challenge with the elements so you have to be prepared. Despite the challenges, this was a top highlight for our trip!! Dinner: Hilo burger joint. Big juicy burger with fries and a beer. Nothing could’ve tasted better after that hike. Cheap happy hour until 6. Then we went to bed, still feeling a little altitude sickness (felt like a hangover).

hiking
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Knocked this out on Feb 21. Protestors opened the road and conditions were great. There is not too much snow at the top, you have to cross maybe 1000 ft on flat stretch. We made it to the top in three and half hours, breaked at each mile and hitchhiked back down. Really enjoyed this. It was easier than I expected but very difficult. The altitude is tough in last 1000 ft.

Good trail over volcanic rock with packed snow for around a mile of the last portion. I did not need traction, although if there were a few warm days/nights microspikes would be helpful. Lots of cars near the summit; it would probably be easy to hitchhike down on a good weather day if you are so inclined. I hiked up and down on 7 hours. Make sure you pay attention to the map immediately at the start. There’s one trail that leads nowhere and it’s not well marked.

hiking
snow
3 months ago

Hiked this yesterday with my dad who does not hike on the regular . Took us 6 hours to summit, taking many breaks. The altitude is tough, but the views and solitude of this trail are amazing. Only saw two other small groups the entire hike. Start early and take your time. Last mile is all in the road and the all trails map looks as if it curves another way. Just follow the road. Definitely felt longer than 5.6! I think it was closer to 7 according to my phone on the way up. We hitchhiked down. I still feel well accomplished! ;)

hiking
3 months ago

We were on big island for only 3 days and the weather was cold and rainy. The last day the weather seemed to be better at sea level, also the webcams on the summit showed a blue sky, so we decided to give it a shot. We drove up to the start of the trail, and in the Visitors Information Centre, they advised against doing the hike, but they did not forbid it, so we wanted to try anyhow. We had a solid plan (like returning at a specific time to ensure we were back before sunset - or when we were half way through our water supply - or when one of us was suffering too much of the altitude sickness) A bit further a ranger was blocking the road and told us that we were not allowed to go up as they had 7 inches of snow the previous night and we wouldn't be able to find the trail. We were also told us that we would see nothing but fog during almost whole of the yrail. My buddy already felt a bit light headed and doing some hiking around the starting point was already pretty heavy due to the hight and lack of oxygene. (and I do believe my buddy is in shape) So some takeaways: keep in mind that during winter time weather conditions might block you from doing this hike. And don't underestimate the altitude - even at the start of the trail.

hiking
icy
no shade
snow
3 months ago

Last week (Jan31): The trail itself is easy although the elevation makes it very hard. Make sure you walk slowly, have enough water and some extra jacket. I wasn’t sure about the symptoms, but now I understand - around 3.500 I got very hungry (even I ate enough) and starting to be dizzy, and then around 3.950 I trough up and faint. And then I felt ok. So definitely have a respect to the elevation. Video: @Sorky.life Check the official website as well if the trail is open!!

hiking
icy
no shade
rocky
snow
3 months ago

hiking
snow
3 months ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
snow
4 months ago

All Trails description of this trail is exact. It is an incredible hike, challenging for anyone. 5.6 miles on All Trails, my buddy’s watch calculated it at 6.76 miles. It feels longer than 5.6 miles. Loose gravel, larger lava rocks, and snow make up the terrain. We were above the clouds by 10,000 ft. It’s simply incredible to see. Be sure to bring plenty of water, food, and layers. We started in t-shirts and would have loved winter jackets at summit. Altitude sickness is a very real concern (starting the day near sea level doesn’t help). Be ready for the symptoms, drink water, and slow down. At 13,000 ft I was a goner, I really, really struggled the last 1-1.5 miles. Plan for an all day trip, it’s worth it and you’ll be thankful you took the time.

hiking
rocky
snow
4 months ago

This trail is actually open!!! Parked at the visitor’s center then proceeded to the trail about a hundred yards or so give or take up the road. One of our group backed down after about a mile or so and picked us up at the top. The views are some of the best I’ve ever encountered. This was a good warmup to getting prepared for Mount Whitney one day.

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