Ainapo Road and Trail
2,200 Feet Elevation, 8 Miles
?inap? Road begins at the cattle guard located on the mauka side of Highway 11 in Ka??, at approximately the 40.5 mile mark. Open during daylight hours only. Parking at either end on unvegetated sides of road and at trailhead.
This infrequently maintained, unpaved, 4-wheel drive public access route passes through Kap?pala Ranch for 5.7 miles before entering the Kap?pala Forest Reserve and continuing another 2.3 miles to the ??inap? Trailhead. Except for non-native grasses, the forest reserve is an excellent example of native mixed mesic koa (Acacia koa)/??hi?a (Metrosideros polyphorpha) forest, offering many opportunities to observe native forest birds such as ?apapane (Himatione sanguinea), ?i?iwi (Drepanis coccinea), ?amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens), and ?elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis).
From the trailhead, ??inap? Trail ascends 7,600′ in 10.2 miles to the National Park Service cabin on the rim of Moku??weoweocrater at the summit of Mauna Loa. Vegetation varies from mixed mesic koa (Acacia koa)/ ??hi?a (Metrosideros polymorpha) forest to alpine stone desert. Ahu, stone cairn trail markers, identify the route over p?hoehoe lava sections. The beaten trail over a?? lava may be totally obscured by snowfall.
Rain catchment water is available at the trail shelter at Halewai at the 7,750′ elevation. Purify water before drinking. Reservations and permits for camping at the trail shelter may be obtained from Hawai?i District Division of Forestry and Wildlife, at 808-974-4221 or at the link below. Hikers continuing to the summit need to register with the National Park Rangers (808 985-6000).
Day use of ??inap? trail does not require a permit, however, hikers are required to contact Kap?pala Ranch at 808-928-8403 to obtain the combination for the locked gate. Users are required to call the night before between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm.to schedule entry. Lock combinations are changed daily and given out daily at the same phone number from 4:30 am to 7:00 am on entry day. Everyone using this public access will sign in and out on the log sheet located in the mailbox on the gate.
Caution: The ??inap? Trail is difficult to the shelter and challenging above. Only experienced, well equipped hikers should attempt the summit. Weather conditions change from pleasant to life threatening in minutes at the upper elevations.
Kap?pala Forest Reserve and Ranch are open to public hunting year round. Bright clothing is recommended.
Do not use any trail or access road that is not delineated by name and color and that may also be displayed on these maps. The marked features are managed for public recreational use. Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk.
Hiking Safety Tips
- STAY ON MARKED TRAILS! Vegetation or cinders may hide deep cracks in the ground. Use caution near cliffs, cracks, and steam vents. The edges of these features are unstable and can be slippery. Keep your children safe. Hiking over cracks and holes, loose rock, and thin lava crust greatly increases your risk of getting hurt. Falling on lava may result in severe wounds.
- WEAR STURDY SHOES AND LONG LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING PANTS (falling on lava is like falling on broken glass).
- CARRY AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. No matter how short your hike or brief your stay, bring more sunscreen and water than you think you’ll need. Recommended: 2 liters of water per person, per day. Hawaii’s strong tropical sun can cause serious dehydration.
- AVOID HIKING AFTER DARK (cracks, crevasses, and cliffs look like shadows – depth is not evident in the dark).
- Always hike or camp with another person.
- Bring a cell phone.
- Do not drink untreated stream or lake water.
- Always be prepared for rain. Rainstorms can roll in with surprising speed.
- Have warm clothes on hand. At elevations above 1,000 feet (and even on windy beaches), nighttime temperatures can drop by at least 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the elevation, the colder it will be.
- Carry bug spray. Mosquitoes can be thick even on breezy beaches.
- Abide by posted signs and stay on the trail.
- Always obtain the proper permits to hike or camp.
- If you are a novice hiker, consider arranging a hiking tour with an activity/attractions tour provider