Mauna Loa Trail to the Summit

HARD 4 reviews

Mauna Loa Trail to the Summit is a 30.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Hawaii National Park, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.

30.4 miles
6479 feet
Out & Back



nature trips



wild flowers


no dogs

3 months ago

Hiked in November and no surprise, it was cold! Went from 5 miles out from the trailhead on Mauna Loa road due to road work, to Pu’u ‘Ula’ula cabin 12.8mi; to Mauna Loa cabin 11.5mi; to true summit then back down Pu’u ‘Ula’ula cabin 17mi; and back down to my drop off point 12.8mi. About 54 miles in all. Brutal. Mesmerizing. Extreme. During the day I sometimes needed a base layer, wind shirt and a fleece, as well as gloves, face shield, sunglasses, and hat for sun and wind protection. Temps ranged from mid 30’s to 50’s during the day in the broad sunlight, 28F or so at night. With chill factor? Pretty cold.

To do this route and stay in the cabins you must get a permit with the Back Country office in Volcano National Park. There you can find out current water catchment tank levels, cabin occupancy, and mountain conditions (though you can look the weather up online.)

Be prepared. Altitude Sickness can affect anybody no matter how strong or awesome you are, makes no difference. It’s being the best of us to our knees (literally as you’re vomiting your brains out lol). Or worse.

Besides that, the cabins are awesome and we are so fortunate to have them! If you do use them, be clean and respectful. Leave them cleaner than when you found them. Normal camping philosophy applies. Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in.

I was very lucky I went when I did. The following week it was expected to snow 20-30 inched multiple days. I would have been trapped! Crazy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Please see our entry under Mauna Loa Observatory Trail. Although this is a very difficult trail, we will give it all five stars, because the views and exhilaration being at the top of this geologically unique volcanic 'shield' dome (is this the world's most massive?) is well worth the endurance, discipline, and some advanced preperation required to complete it. Unlike Mauna Kea and Haleakala, you cannot drive all the way up to the summit. We see its (snow speckled in winter) summit regularly from Kailua-Kona's Old Airport Park

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2011