Trail in Kapapala Forest Reserve
In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Department of Natural Resources is closing ʻĀinapō Cabin.
From the trailhead, ʻĀinapō Trail ascends 7,600' in 10.2 miles to the National Park Service cabin on the rim of Mokuʻāweoweo crater at the summit of Mauna Loa. Vegetation varies from mixed mesic koa (Acacia koa)/ ʻōhiʻa (Metrosideros polymorpha) forest to alpine stone desert. Ahu (stone cairn trail markers) identify the route over pāhoehoe lava sections, and blue "DOFAW" flagging in forested areas. The beaten trail over aʻā lava may be totally obscured by snowfall.
Rain catchment water is available at the trail shelter at Halewai at the 7,750' elevation. Purify water before drinking. Reservations and permits for camping at the trail shelter may be obtained from Hawaiʻi District Division of Forestry and Wildlife, at 808-974-4221 or at the link below. Hikers continuing to the summit need to register with the National Park Rangers (808 985-6000). Camping permits are available for stay at the ʻĀinapō cabin. See link below for details. Reservations can only be made 1 month in advance. Difficulty: Challenging
Highest Point: 13,200 ft. Lowest Point: 5,560 ft.
Hunting may be in progress on or near this hiking trail. Hunting dogs may be off-leash while engaged in the hunt. Hikers must keep their dogs leashed at all times and remove dog waste while on this trail.
- 4-wheel drive
- Nature Study
- Scenic Viewpoint
- Hunting Area
Terrain and Trail Environment
Steep, rocky, high elevation
- No Open Fires
- No Plant Sand Dirt Rock Removal
Simple Trail Tips
- Stay on the trail
- Check the weather
- Watch the time
- Avoid undue risk
- Read all posted signs
- Respect other trail users
- Pack out at least what you pack in
Day use of ʻĀinapō trail does not require a permit, however, hikers are required to contact Kapāpala Ranch by text message at 808-937-8391 THE DAY BEFORE entering. The gate code will be sent back via text no later than 4:30 am the day of entry. Everyone using this public access will sign in and out on the log sheet located in the mailbox on the gate.
Caution: The ʻĀinapō Trail is difficult to the shelter and challenging above. Only experienced, well equipped hikers should attempt the summit. Weather conditions change from pleasant to life threatening in minutes at the upper elevations. Kapāpala Forest Reserve and Ranch are open to public hunting year round. Bright clothing is recommended. Do not use any trail or access road that is not delineated by name and color and that may also be displayed on these maps. The marked features are managed for public recreational use. Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk. Downloadable resources are provided below.
First try to click on the "Get Directions" icon at the top of this page.
ʻĀinapō Road begins at the cattle guard located on the mauka side of Highway 11 in Kaʻū, at approximately the 40.5 mile mark. Open during daylight hours only. Parking at either end on unvegetated sides of road and at trailhead.