Round Trip Mileage: 8.1 miles (for every trail, you can customize to make your day as short or long as you want).
Elevation Gain: 1900 feet
Gear: This hike begins about two thousand feet above sea level, so it's a bit cooler. Expect afternoon rain.
- Pu'u Wa'awa'a Website
- Trail Brochure for the Halapepe Trail (pdf)
- Trail Brochure for the Cinder Cone Trail and 'O'hia Trail (pdf)
Map: Topographical Map of Pu'u Wa'awa'a
Overview: Meaning literally "many-furrowed hill," this ancient cinder cone resembles an upside-down jello mold when viewed from afar. This area was once private property ranches, but is now managed by the Division of Forestry & Wildlife and the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Volunteer Program. Although Pu'u Wa'awa'a is the signature landmark of the area, this region is actually managed as an Ahupua'a (land management area) and has a number of excellent trails. It's possible to do a nice big loop here and experience everything that the ahupua'a has to offer. Hit this one first thing in the morning to take advantage of the weather patterns (find out why). The view from the top of the Pu'u is staggering. The trails here are almost completely the work of volunteers, and there is no official state maintenance. Stay on the trail at all times (there is still private land in the area). Pick up any trash you find and try to take it with you. Dogs are not allowed. There are several gates in the area because some of this land is still used for livestock. Close all gates as you pass through them. Be kind to the land here and to the other people you find on the trail. If you hike here, consider volunteering some of your time: contact the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Volunteer Program or call 808-333-0084.
Getting to the Trailhead: Traveling from either Kailua-Kona or Waimea town on Hwy. 190, find the turn for the trailhead between the 21 and 22 mile markers (closer to the 21 mile marker). Drive along a white pipe fence and shortly find a metal gate. Go through the gate and close it behind you (this area is still used for grazing stock). The gate is unlocked daily from 6am - 6pm. Drive up the Vulcanite Road and park near the check-in station. This is for hunters, but you might find some trail brochures here as well.
The Hike: This route travels in a large loop around the entire ahupua'a, but you could break this up into several parts for many different combinations. From the trailhead, walk south along the Vulcanite Road for 1.5 miles until you reach the beginning of the Cinder Cone Trail. Find some old ranch implements and pass through a gate into the old ranch. Close the gate behind you -- ranchers still use this land to graze stock. After a short distance, find the Tamaki Corral, a historic old corral from about 100 years ago. Pass the corral and countour around the Pu'u to the southeast and find an old ranching road that climbs steeply up the center of a large draw on the southeast side of the Pu'u. Follow this steep road to a saddle between the east and west summits of the Pu'u. The western side is a bit higher at 3,967 feet. Enjoy the views and return the way you came to the beginning of the Cinder Cone trail. When you reach the Vulcanite Road again, look sharp to the west for Miki's Road (now a trail). This old road passes through some amazing old growth forest. After 0.75 mile, look to the east for the intersection of the 'O'hia Trail. This trail also passes through well-protected old-growth. After 0.6 mile, reach the Vulcanite Road again. Turn north on the Vulcanite Road toward the parking area and trailhead. If you want to continue and hike the Halapepe Trail, walk past the parking area and take this loop hike in either direction back to the trailhead and parking area. Use the links above to trail brochures created by the Pu'u Wa'awa'a Volunteer Program to find out more about the trails here.