Mauna Kea Peak Ascent For OHV Driving
The 2nd most popular off-highway vehicle trail in Hawaii.
Friday 15 July 2016 05:08 GMT
South of Waimea on the Big Island, there is are old 4WD roads which climb from 5,500 feet to over 10,000 feet on the slopes of Mauna Kea. The OHV route, Mauna Kea Access Road (aka R-1), has numerous side roads. Make sure to always follow the most heavily travelled route. It provides views of volcanic scenery and forests. It follows a semi-circle around the north side of Mauna Kea. It ends at Mauna Kea Road about 2 miles up from Saddle Road.
It is best to start very early in the morning before the clouds roll in. For the most part, the road is reasonable smooth with some mud and water holes. There are occasional rocky sections that require slow going.
There are numerous side road. They can be very confusing at times. If you choose to check them out, make sure you know the way back. A good one to explore is R-10 which leads up to 12,000 feet.
To reach the trailhead from Waimea, head south on SR190 for about 6 miles. Veer left continuing south on SR200 (Saddle Road). The trailhead is between milepost 43 and 44 on the left (east) side of the road. Look for the old 4WD trail marked as R-1.
The route climbs steadily for the first 4 miles on a moderately graded gravel road. Keep an eye out for wild pigs, turkeys and goats. At the Pu ula au Ranger Station, the road to the left continues wrapping around the north side of Mauna Kea for 35 miles. The other road to the right heads up steeply for another 6 miles to over 10,000 feet (it is known as the Skyline Trail).
Note: Be aware that most Hawaiian topographic maps use the Old Hawaiian Datum. When trying to use the latitude/longitude from those maps with a GPS unit, you will think you are 0.4 miles south/southeast of where you really are. Kind of important in a dense jungle.
Overall, Mauna Kea Peak Ascent is the 2nd most popular OHV & 4wd jeep trail of all 4 OHV routes in Hawaii.