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October 4, 2013

view from the Saddle road

Kipuka Pu’u Huluhulu. View from the Saddle road. Credit: lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com

Pu’u Huluhulu (meaning the hairy hill) is an old cinder cone that is located between the two access roads for Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It is the most noticeable and often the most overlooked landmark along the Saddle road.

The top of this nice little hill offers dramatic views of  both mountains. The hill is the only one in the area that has trees. Actually, a nice forest. No surprise it was considered (and still is) a sacred place.

View to the Mauna Kea Access road

View to the Mauna Kea access road

View to Mauna Loa

View to Mauna Loa through the dense foliadge

We climbed Pu’u Huluhulu (6758 ft from the sea level and 200 ft high itself) the morning the drove to the summit of Mauna Kea. It was a very nice diversion. It also provided us with an exercise and acclimatization we needed before accessing the observatories.

Getting to the trail

Puu Huluhulu map

Puu Huluhulu map. Credit: bigislandhikes.com

Pu’u Huluhulu is big enough to be seen from miles away. The trail head is located near the 28 mile marker on the new Saddle Road (Hwy. 200), and between the access roads for both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. A short paved road will take you to a parking area and the trail head.

From the parking area, walk through a gate. you might find the gate either open or tied with a wire, so you will need either to open it or to just walk in. Leave the gate as you found it.  Pu’u Huluhulu is a native tree sanctuary, so people could hold ceremonies here; it is also a hunting place.

It is  an easy hike – 3 miles round trip, and it takes less than 2 hours to complete (2 hours mostly because it offers nice views).

The Kipuka Pu’u Huluhulu trail

The Kipuka Pu’u Huluhulu trail

The trail heading up the hill is a bit faint, but pretty easy to follow. It makes a  loop that climbs around the hill. There is a place, near the summit, but not quite on it that offers a beautiful view of Mauna Kea. The actual summit is covered in dense vegetation. It offers great views of Mauna Loa, but it’s hard to find an big enough window in the dense foliage.

Pu’u Huluhulu is a home for a variety of rare  Hawaiian plants
Dense vegetation Kipuka Pu’u Huluhulu  Malva plant
Dense Vegetation 3 DSC02900

All the way up to the summit we had a feeling that it is definitely a sacred place. We could feel that local gods and druids are watching us. And they did watch us with sympathy. The hill looks as if it comes from a fairy tail. It is also very child friendly. As if we were suddenly being transported to the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. To the old lady garden from the “Snow Queen” tale.

There are also a lot of birds. And some of them are endemic for this area. Unfortunately, because of intense vegetation, one could only hear them, but do not see.