Observatory Trail to North Pit Junction

Hilo, Hawaii 96721

Observatory Trail to North Pit Junction

Observatory Trail to North Pit Junction Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This is the shortest, fastest route to Mauna Loa’s North Pit; from there you can continue to the Mauna Loa cabin at 13,250 feet, or to the summit of the mountain at 13,677 feet. You can spend the night at North Pit and go on to either the summit or the cabin the next day, or you can do the whole trip as an out-and-back day hike. Once you have reached North Pit, you have really seen the best the mountain has to offer.

Special considerations: The trail covers desolate and surprisingly beautiful country. There is not a blade of grass or a molecule of chlorophyll anywhere, but the lava comes in such a range of colors and textures that you won’t miss the green."

More Observatory Trail to North Pit Junction Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hawaii Trails: Walks, Strolls and Treks on the Big Island (Wilderness Press)
Kathy Morey
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"This trip allows the visitor to see and enjoy virtually every kind of volcanic feature on Mauna Loa on a relatively short dayhike instead of a grueling, multi-day backpack. In the morning, before the daily clouds move in, there are fine views of Mauna Kea and the saddle region from your starting point. Be sure to get an early start: the altitude will slow you down. You begin at 11,150 feet and have your lunch at just over 13,000 feet at the edge of North Pit, the north bay of Mauna Loa’s huge caldera, Mokuaweoweo! No matter how prominent the cairns seem when it’s clear, they’re easily obscured by fog. You’re hiking on an active volcano, so the following trail description could change. In that case, follow the Park Service’s cairns, not the description below."

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
6 to 8 hours
Spring, summer, fall
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Local Contacts
USGS Koko'olau
Local Maps