Mauna Kea ,Big island Hawaii

Aug 7 ,2012


While vacationing on Big Island, Hawaii, Robin and I decided to hike the Manua Kea trail which is also known as the Humuula Trail. Manua Kea is Hawaiis highest mountain at 13,796 feet ( Some refer to it as the world's tallest mountain which rises from the ocean floor at over 31,000 ft) . It is a series of volcanic cinder cones with various stages of lava rock. The hike was approximately 7 miles one way with an elevation gain of 4596 feet from the visitor centre which is at 9200 feet. The summit houses the world's largest observatory for optical, infrared and dubmillimeter astronomy.

The first mile will bring you close to the second bend in the road having gained 1000’ on loose cinder with a grade approaching 40%. The second mile continues up the steep cinder slope to near the base of the black hill (pu’u Keonehehe) visible from the visitor station. It is like walking on deep sand uphill. Tough!  Before you reach the large rock with A & B painted on its southern exposure you will have begun encountering some steel fence posts which mark the trail for the rest of the way. At the A&B rock you are at an elevation of 11,100 ft. As we were ascending I definately felt the elevation especially toward the last 25% of the hike.The terrain changes from sand, to scree to red rock to black lava. Grade varies along the way. We were told the UV index was 17; extreme.. to cover up as much as possible. the last part of the hike was on a paved road to the observatory. The winds were brutal. We could hardly stand. The temperature change was intense. Being above the clouds was beautiful. The scenery spectacular.


Mauna Kea Trail (Humuula Trail)

Distance- 22.4 km return (from Visitors Centre)
Elevation Gain – 1415 m (4596 ft)
Total Time- 7 hrs 30 minutes
Starting Elevation- 2830 m (9200 ft)
Max Elevation- 4245 mm(13796 ft)
Average Grade- 28%