Pu'u Kole
Pu'u Kaupakuhale
Pu'u Ka'iwi'iwi
Pu'u Ulaulua
Pu'u Kanakaleonui
Pu'u Holei

Jan 15, 2020

With: Eric Smith
Ingrid Dockersmith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


My last day in Hawaii was spent in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve on the southeast slopes of Mauna Kea. Signs in other parts of the forest reserve we had encountered previously suggested this southeast entrance road off the paved Mauna Kea Rd was closed, but as we came to find, the road is open, even if a bit rough. This gave us access to a host of puu's around the 9,000-foot level where we spent half a day doing as much driving as we did hiking. The weather forecast had been for mostly sunny skies, but changed dramatically by morning, bringing heavy overcast and drizzle. The views were almost completely lacking as we found ourselves inside the dense clouds most of the day with only occasional vistas. The road and surrounding public lands are mostly used by hunters. In mid-week, it seemed we had the place to ourselves and never saw another soul the whole time we were on R-1, the main dirt road going around Mauna Kea.

Pu'u Kole

A subsidiary road off R-1 gets one within 1/3mi on the north side. From the satellite view, it appears there is a swath of a'a lava (the rough, hard to travel over variety) between where we parked and the base of the road. On the way up we tried to avoid this section by skirting around it some, but it turned out to not be as loose and crumbly as feared. On the way back we took the direct route which turned out to be fairly quick and easy. The slopes of the cinder cone have almost no vegetation and the summit is open to views (normally), much like most of the puu's we visited today.

Pu'u Kaupakuhale

This proved the most scenic of the day's selections. Following a steep uphill climb on compacted cinder with decent footing that took less than 25min, we found ourselves just above 10,000ft and the top of the lower cloud layer. This gave us a far view to snow-capped Mauna Loa to the south and some of the higher features on Mauna Kea above us to the west.

Pu'u Ka'iwi'iwi

A very easy hike that took less than 5min to reach the modest summit on the downhill side of the road.

Pu'u Ulaulau

This on is found on PB but not LoJ. It takes only 10min to hike out over mostly flat ground to reach the modest top. There's no discernable prominence to the summit that we could tell.

Pu'u Kanakaleonui/Pu'u Holei

This was the most interesting hike. Pu'u Kanakaleonui is considered a sacred mountain and signed as such, but foot travel is allowed. A use trail leads to the top in less than ten minutes. The rock here is more interesting than found on other puu's of the day, mostly a layer of cinder cone with larger rocks atop it, some the result of lava bombs, others stacked by humans, some with curiously smooth and twisted shapes. The heavy fog enveloping the mountain gave an air of solemnity to our travels across it. We descended the opposite side, descending further downhill than we'd started, reaching a saddle before a final short climb to the second summit, Pu'u Holei. There is an interestig view of Pu'u Kanakaleonui's crater from this point. After reaching the top we ,21>reversed our route back over the first summit to finish up at the jeep not long before 1:30p. There were more summits to visit further along the road, but we had to call it a day and turn around since I had a flight to catch. Good to know there are more puu's awaiting me on my next visit...

Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Fri Oct 9 17:14:03 2020
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com