Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, is a paradise for hikers with its diverse terrain and mesmerizing views. From towering volcanoes to cascading waterfalls, there are countless hiking trails that offer immersive experiences of the island’s natural beauty. Here are some of the best hiking trails on Hawaii Island that you should definitely not miss.
1. Mauna Kea Summit Trail
The Mauna Kea Summit Trail is a challenging 7-mile round-trip hike that takes you to the summit of the tallest mountain in Hawaii. It starts at an elevation of 9,200 feet, ascending to the summit at 13,796 feet. The trail crosses different landscapes, from lava fields to alpine shrublands, and you can witness breathtaking views of the island’s coastline and the Mauna Loa volcano. For acclimatization, it’s recommended to spend a night at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station before attempting the hike.
2. Akaka Falls Loop Trail
Located on the Hilo side of Hawaii Island, the Akaka Falls Loop Trail is a short hike that takes you through a lush rainforest to witness the picturesque Akaka Falls. The 0.4-mile loop trail is well-maintained and features two waterfalls, the 100-foot Akaka Falls and the 40-foot Kahuna Falls, as well as exotic tropical flora and fauna. This hike is suitable for all ages and fitness levels, making it a great family-friendly attraction.
3. Pololu Valley Trail
The Pololu Valley Trail is a scenic hike that takes you through the Kohala Mountains to the Pololu Valley lookout. The trail is 1 mile each way, but the steep incline may make it feel more challenging. Along the way, you’ll pass through verdant forests and enjoy ocean views until you reach the valley’s black sand beach. The beach is secluded and not suitable for swimming, but it’s a perfect spot for a picnic while admiring the breathtaking views.
4. Kilauea Iki Trail
If you’re looking for a hiking trail that showcases Hawaii Island’s volcanic heritage, look no further than the Kilauea Iki Trail. This 4-mile hike is located near the active Kilauea Volcano and takes you across the crater of an erupted volcano. As you walk across the solidified lava, you’ll be able to see steam vents, fissures, and other geological formations. The trail has a moderate difficulty level and takes around 2-3 hours to complete.
5. Waipio Valley Trail
The Waipio Valley Trail is one of the most beautiful and challenging hikes on Hawaii Island. It starts at the top of the Waipio Valley lookout and descends 1,200 feet on a steep, muddy trail to reach the valley floor. Along the way, you’ll see picturesque waterfalls, lush vegetation, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The trail is 3.4 miles round trip and can take up to 4 hours to complete.
Hawaii Island has a plethora of hiking trails that showcase its natural beauty and offer unforgettable experiences. From challenging summit hikes to short strolls through lush rainforests, there is something for everyone. Before setting out, make sure to check the trail conditions and bring plenty of water, snacks, and appropriate hiking gear. With some planning and preparation, your Hawaii Island hiking adventure will be a lifetime experience.