Ainapo Trail

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Phone (808) 974-4221
Address Hawaii Belt Rd, Pahala, HI 96777
Experts only, high altitude, 10 mile long (each way) hiking trail on the Big Island.

• General: Camping • General: National Park • General: Photo Opportunity • Hiking: Hiking • Hiking: Length: 10+ Miles
• Hiking: Level: Experts Only • Hiking: Major Elevation Changes • Hiking: Out & Back Trail • Sightseeing: Great Views

Ainapo Trail is a very difficult, 10.6 mile (one way) out and back style hiking trail on Hawaii's Big Island. This hike is only for those who are expert hikers who are well prepared and experienced. Even then, reading up on Hiking Safety & Essentials is a must.

The trailhead begins at around 4,900 feet above sea level and is access via the 8 mile long Ainapo Road. If you're driving, a 4x4 vehicle is required to make it through this unpaved and rarely maintained road. While we have marked the trailhead location on our map / directions page, you'll first want to head over to our Ainapo Road page and follow those directions first.

From there, you'll ascend over 7,600 over the course of the 10.6 mile long trail and reaching heights of around 13,000 feet above sea level as you reach the National Park Service cabin on the rim of Mokuaweoweo crater at the summit of Mauna Loa.

Water may be available at the rain catchment are at the trail shelter at Halewai around 7,750 feet in elevation. The rain water must be purified before consuming. Reservations and permits for camping at the trail shelter can be obtained from the Hawaii District Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 808-974-4221. The shelter houses 6 bunk beds, a 400 gallon water catchment tank (good for washing, must be treated for drinking), and a composting toilet. Permits must be purchased at least 30 days in advance. Hikers planning to continue to the summit need to register with the National Park Rangers at 808 985-6000.

While day use of the Ainapo Trail does not require a permit, hikers must contact Kapapala Ranch at 808-928-8403 to obtain the combination for the locked gate to get in. Call the evening before to schedule entry as lock combinations change daily.

Since the Kapapala Forest Reserve and ranch areas where the trail passes through are open to public hunting year-round, wearing bright clothing is recommended.