Kaaliali Trail Cinder Cone, Mauna Kea Hawaii

This cinder cone is not like the others! Its a pretty easy hike depending on where you start (I learned this the hard way).
I’m unsure of the actual name of the cinder cone (I will probably ask one of the rangers soon) and I’m not completely sure of the legality of this hike due to sheep/goat hunters on Mauna Kea. All I can suggest is that you wear bright clothing!  (This goes for hiking anywhere on Mauna Kea!!) What makes this cinder cone special though is the huge hole in the center (central vent)! My co-worker informed me that it is about 90 feet down and is pretty apparent that it is deep because you can even see it on google maps!


google maps image

most cinder cones are filled with rock fragments as they become dormant. I’m not sure why but this cinder cone is empty for a ways down.


When I first looked at google maps I was like “oh this will be easy, you just go over those two ridges and there it is!” I thought it was just a hole in the ground and not a cinder cone. So I spent about 2 hours looking for this random hole and didn’t find it. 5 blisters later I turned around and headed home.  My first route, which you can see in blue below, was a bit of a mistake. I started from the astronomer dorms (HP), went over the first ridge (this wasn’t too bad), got to the top of the second ridge, and thats when the whole rest of the “trail” turned into pure aa lava. So after hiking around in the aa and passing the one cinder cone I did not hike up I saw the Kaaliali Trail road and hurried over as fast as I could go. Moral of the story: do not hike a trail in Hawaii without there actually being a trail or you know where you are going, you might end up with tons of blisters from aa.  So as I headed back along the dirt trail I looked back and saw where the hole was on the cinder cone I passed by. Needless to say I was a bit pissed.


blue: day 1
red: day 2
star: start
yellow circle: cinder cone!

So I set out the next day, a little bit smarter and extremely determined, to find this stupid hole! My path in red is day two. As you can see I started below the visitor center along the dirt road and followed that along. Unfortuneatly it was extremely foggy (as it frequently gets up there) and I couldn’t even see the cinder cone! Good thing I brought my phone with GPS! It cleared for just a few minutes and gave me a glace at the cinder cone that had given me so much grief. The hike to the top from HP is about 1 mile (both routes) and there is no avoiding the aa. This route you only have to go through about 0.3 miles of aa (btw I forgot to mention when you hike on aa there is no trail at all, its one big free for all). When I finally reached the top and saw the hole it was all worth it!! I got a bit closer then I should have but I also got some cool photos too 😉


first glance of the hole


This was a bit scary to capture, mostly for the sake of losing my phone…and possibly sliding in…


it twas a bit wet and windy, but I did it!


3 thoughts on “Kaaliali Trail Cinder Cone, Mauna Kea Hawaii

  1. Pingback: Kaaliali Trail Cinder Cone | Nature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s