Mauna Kea rises to 13, 800 feet above the sea level shores of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is the tallest mountain in Hawaii, but it really starts far below the ocean, making it the tallest mountain on Earth (33 000 feet). It erupted a million years ago but is now considered dormant, although cinder cones erupted about 5000 years ago. Mauna Kea is so massive (at 3200 square miles) that Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (a few miles to the south) together depress the ocean crust below it by 6 km.
We drove up to the 9 400 foot level of the shield volcano into an area of cinder cones. The upper part of the mountain can also be accessed following a 4×4 road. At the end of the paved road at the treeline are some informal trails that wind up to the top of and around a series of cinder cones.
There are no signed routes, but there are some double tracks and single tracks that can be combined to explore the area near Puu Kalepeamoa and Puu Halewahine.
We enjoyed exploring the cider cones and pumice cones and were surprised to find some petrified wood on the rim of one crater. We hiked for about 6.2 km in a loop back to our vehicle at the Park Visitors Station.
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