Easy walks or moderate- to strenuous-level hikes are available in this special area, the road to which is closed to most rental cars. The “saddle” between two giant volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, features a range of terrain including historic-era lava flows pocketed with ancient forests, which are home to a number of native birds. Hikers love these areas and they have special attractions for birders and photographers.
The overall elevation change in this hike is modest. The trail winds across open lava fields, some carpeted with grass and shrubs, some strikingly raw, and plunges into dense woodlands which are a sort of “island” (kipuka in Hawaiian) surrounded but not destroyed by the erupted flows that rolled down the flanks of Mauna Loa. In the open land, our gaze is arrested by the mosaic of lava fields of that active volcano and the cinder cones and glacial moraine of dormant Mauna Kea. In the forests, giant trees and tangled jungle, rare and peculiar plants capture our attention.
Feral pigs and goats, pheasants and grouse are sometimes seen as we traverse this area, and we are treated to views of birds found only in these Islands. Rarely, we may see humans who are not in our group, though we can by no means guarantee such sightings. It is a quiet and absorbing part of Hawai`i that richly rewards our efforts.
|Tour Option||Rate*||Check In Location||Check In Time|
|Morning Departure (Classic Tour)||$185 Adult|
|Liliuokalani Gardens on Hilo Bay or Starbucks in Waimea||8:30am|
|Personal Tour (Timing Varies)||$900 (1 - 5 guests)||By arrangement||By arrangement|