The Manuka Natural Area Reserve, on the southern slope of Mauna Loa, protects one of the least disturbed sections of original native forests on the island. It was last buried by lava more than 2,300 years ago, and has miraculously escaped development, so it has some very old trees by Hawaiian standards, many of which exist nowhere else on earth.
While the nature trail itself starts at about 1,800 feet in elevation, the reserve as a whole extends all the way from sea level to 5,000 feet, so every habitat from lowland dry forest to wet rainforest is represented. It is also home to the ’elepaio, a tiny native bird with a cocked tail, and Hawaii’s only native mammal, the hoary bat.
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