Location : Maui, Hawaii
Total distance : 12.5 miles if you park at the Visitor Center Parking. 14 miles if you park at Summit parking round-trip (loop)
Elevation gain : 2,800 ft (net 1,500 ft)
Peak elevation : 10,023 ft (Summit parking), 9,740 ft (Visitor Center parking)
Tree Cover : No tree cover. Sunscreen highly recommended
Parking : Parking at Visitor Center and Summit
Trailhead : Keonehe'ehe'e trailhead at Visitor Center parking, click here
Landmark : You have to go through a brown gate to get to the trailhead.
Terrain Map :
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or move the map
Satellite map :
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Click to enlarge
Detailed directions : First of all, hiking Hawaii volcanoes is nothing like hiking in SoCal. Tree shade is little to none. Rocks and sand is either black, grey or brown with very less green if any. It's like hiking on Mars, especially because you don't see many people around it feels like you are all alone. If you are there during a storm there will be very less visibility. The picture below is of the peak and the observatory but you can see nothing but wet clouds.
Check the weather conditions and dress appropriately as it can get really cold in the evening and remember you will be at 10,000 ft altitude, which means it is relatively colder all day. Call the visitor center and ask for weather forecast so you can be prepared.
Enjoy the beautiful views on your way up to the summit. Remember you will ascend 10,000 ft in a couple of hours when you drive so make sure you take plenty of breaks to acclimatize which is a key to doing this hike.
As shown in the map picture above, you just follow the highlighted trail. or to make it shorter by 0.5 miles you can take the inner trail. To make it even shorter you can just come back the same way instead of doing the loop. If you have the time and energy I definitely recommend doing the loop as shown in the map.
The Keonehe'ehe'e (Sliding Sand) trailhead is right next to the Visitor Center parking. The picture on the right is of the same trail on the way down. You will descend quickly as it is steep but it is difficult going back up for the same reason.
There is a cabin at the end of the trail at 5.7 miles from the trailhead. The lowest point in the hike is 2,600 ft deep but you will also climb on your way to the cabin which makes the net elevation loss 1,500 ft.
You can see the trail in the picture on the right. Enjoy the view, but try not to take too many breaks while going down.
You will see many cinder cones on your way down. On the way back you will be going around the cones and in between them.
These strange almost perfect triangles on the hill are most unexpected. At this point you are almost at the cabin.
You can take a break at the Kapaloa cabin, there is some grass and a wooden bench. But to stay in the cabin you need to apply for it months in advance some times. You took the Keonehe'ehe'e trail to get to the cabin, it continues but if you are planning a day hike you should turn around now. On the way back take the Halemau'u trail that joins Keonehe'ehe'e trail in 3.3 miles.
Once you are back on Keonehe'ehe'e trail you have 4.3 more miles to the trailhead and remember you are climbing so it takes longer. Especially the last one mile is the steepest so allow enough time for this part of the hike.
If you can make it back to the trailhead by sunset don't forget to catch the sunset, it is very beautiful and there will be lots of people there. As I mentioned earlier it is very cold at that time, so make sure you have some nice jackets to keep you warm.