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Hiking Mauna Kea in Hawaii

Do you want to climb the world's highest mountain?

Hiking Mauna Kea
Hiking Mauna Kea
Hiking Mauna Kea
Hiking Mauna Kea

Everest is the highest mountain in the world above sea level, but Mauna Kea is number one when measured from base to top. Its height is 10,203 m, but the bigger part of the mountain is underwater. The trail to the summit of Mauna Kea is rather challenging. For experienced hikers, it takes about 8 hours to accomplish this goal. The trail is 10 km in length, starting at 2800 m and climbing to the summit at 4,200 m.

As a reward for all these hours of climbing, you'll get to see stunning views of the mountains of Hawaii island and the wonderful flora of the dormant volcano. Also, its proximity to the equator makes Mauna Kea a great star observatory. It's advisable to plan your hike for summer when the weather on the summit is much milder. In the winter, ​it might be rather windy and snowy on Mauna Kea. Always check the weather before you start your hike so that you know what to expect.

Practical info

When is the best time to hike Mauna Kea in Hawaii?

The ideal months to hike Mauna Kea in Hawaii are April to November due to milder and safer summit weather. The climb can become more perilous during winter with strong winds and snow. So, it's prudent to check the forecast before commencing the trek. Show more

How long does it take to hike to the summit of Mauna Kea?

Experienced trekkers can cover the 10 km trail to the Mauna Kea summit in Hawaii in around 8 hours. The trail originates at an elevation of 2800 m and rises steeply to reach the 4200 m high summit. Fit hikers are better suited to undertake this demanding trek. Show more

Where is Mauna Kea located on the Big Island of Hawaii?

Mauna Kea mountain is situated on Hawaii's Big Island, with the nearest town being Hilo. The trailhead to reach the mountain is on the Saddle Road, which can be accessed from Hilo. It takes roughly six miles to ascend to the trailhead from the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station. Show more

What kind of views can be seen during the hike to Mauna Kea's summit?

Hikers taking the Mauna Kea summit trek in Hawaii can witness breathtaking views of the island's mountains, including Hualalai and Mauna Loa. The climb also exposes hikers to unique floral varieties such as the silversword plant and native bird species. The mountain's vicinity to the equator offers splendid opportunities to see stars, watching spectacular sunsets, and stargazing after reaching the summit. Show more

Are there any safety precautions to be aware of when planning a hike to Mauna Kea's summit?

Maintaining safety measures is crucial throughout the Mauna Kea summit hike. The trail is steep, rocky, and the elevation can lead to altitude sickness in some people. Staying hydrated and being physically fit is essential. Carrying warm clothing, especially during winter, is advisable since temperatures at the peak may drop drastically. Hikers should also check the weather ahead of time because seasonal conditions can be unsafe for hiking. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin