During this shelter in place time period of our new lives, my husband and I decided to breathe some fresh air and get some desperately needed exercise. While respectfully following social distancing protocol, we decided to explore some “off beat” hiking trails on the Big Island of Hawai’i. This short hike is right outside of Waikoloa Village.
The trailhead is located approximately 1.2 miles mauka (towards the mountains) from the intersection of Waikoloa Road and Paniolo Street. The gate will be on the right hand side of the road with a rather small parking area. We decided to hike in the early morning hours, to be conscious of social distancing and cooler temperatures. Today’s hike was incredibly clear, and the views did not disappoint.
Once you arrive at the entrance, proceed to the left side of the gate where several other hikers have carved out a path. You will be walking on a wide 2 lane road. The trail is fairly flat with a few elevations to climb depending on how far you walk. Some areas are crushed lava and easy to navigate, while some sections are coarse and uneven; just enough to give yourself an extra core workout.
At first we thought the hike would be rather boring, especially heading on a dirt road to a cinder cone, but we were pleasantly surprised. As we walked towards the cinder cone, called Pu’u Hinai, expansive views of the ocean were on our right hand side. Views of Maui were seen, but partly covered by clouds in the distance and ahead of us lay Hualalai.
Hualalai stands majestically at 8,271 feet, and is the westernmost volcano of the 5 volcanoes located on the Big Island. It is considered to be active with its last eruption in 1801. As we continued on our hike, there were so many spectacular views to see. If you enjoy being out in nature, surrounded by an ocean and 4 volcanoes, this is a hike to consider. The ocean would be West, Mauna Loa to the South, Mauna Kea to the East and Kohala to the North. One can see in the featured picture Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea behind Pu’u Hinai.
There are many side roads and private gates along the route to Pu’u Hinai. We did explore a few side trails, but basically stayed on the main road. The trail is not well travelled. We passed only one other family walking on a Sunday morning.
Native grasses, trees, and birds dotted the landscape with never ending low lying meadows along the way.
About ½ mile you will pass Popoo Gulch. My husband described Popoo Gulch, as a shady unexpected “Shangra-La” in the shadows of the Puu. Another ½ mile, you will arrive at Pu’u Hinai.
Pu’u Hinai is a cinder cone with a giant mysterious cinder spot. The cinder cone was once mined and some report that the Pu’u was used by the military as a target to test their air-to-surface weapons in the early 1940s. One can still see remnants of trailers and equipment at the mining site. The actual ascent to the summit is currently blocked by private gates and locks. I’m sure the view from atop would be breathtaking. Insert your imaginary view here.
The path continues on past the cinder cone for quite a ways, but that adventure will be for another day. On our return from Pu’u Hinai back to our car, the view was of Kohala Mountain.
Kohala is the oldest of five volcanoes on the Big Island. It is estimated to be one million years old, so old that it experienced, and recorded, the reversal of earth’s magnetic field 780,000 years ago. Kohala is 234 sq mi in area and constitutes just under 6% of the island of Hawai’i.
Total mileage for our complete hike was approximately 2.5 miles. We enjoyed this hike tremendously and will definitely go again. This was one of my favorite hikes, thus far. The beauty of each vista reminded me as to why we chose to live on the Big Island of Hawai’i. If you need any more information or have questions, please feel free to contact me. I currently live in Waikoloa Village and plan to explore more hikes in the future.