Puu Laau Road
5,500 - 7,000 Feet Elevation, 8.4 Miles
Route: This is a steep out and back route on a dirt road through native dryland forest ending at a old ranger cabin. The Mauna Kea Access Road trail continues from the cabin another 32 miles.
Directions: Turn at the 44 mile marker on Saddle Road (Hwy 200). Park and sign in at the Hunter Check In Station.
Caution: The area is open for year-around hunting. Wear bright clothing.
This dirt and gravel road goes uphill west of Ahumoa to the historic Pu’u La’au Ranger cabin, passing through open mamane (Sophora chrysophylla), naio (Myoporum sandwicense), and ‘iliahi (Santalum paniculatum) native high-elevation dry forest.
Native forest birds such as ‘amakihi (Hemignathus virens) and ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis) are often sighted in the vicinity of the road. The route also traverses critical habitat of the endangered palila (Loxioides bailleui), a Hawaiian finch found only on the upper slopes of Mauna Kea.
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