Has anyone hiked from sea level to the top of Mauna Kea? Is there a trail? Can it be done? Since Hawaii is a "Western" highpoint, it seems like it deserves to have a route that will provide sufficient elevation gain and difficulty so that it doesn't feel belittled by its companions. Also, once you get all the way to Hawaii, it seems like having a big hike up the mountain would be fun. Any thoughts?
There is a trail from the Mauna Kea Onizuka visitor center (9000ft) to the summit. Near the top the trail ends and you finish on the observatory road. Round trip half a day to a whole day depending upon whether you walk down or hitch a ride back to the visitor center.
Hiking from the ocean sounds interesting, but the distances are great. Via Onizuka vistor center, the shortest distance would be from the East, from Hilo, I am guessing about 30 miles. You may need to hike along the Saddle Road as much of the land in Hawaii is private (huge ranches) and near wear the access road to Onizuka visitor center leaves the Saddle Road there is an artillary range.
People have hiked from sea to summit, but i'm not aware of anyone doing it via trail. Other than "the" trail from high up on the visitor center (a noble enough outing), the only other trail i'm aware of is a historical approach from the east, that a large group recreated as a Hawaiian celebration thing a few years back. That started from several hundred feet up though.
I shouldn't pu-pu such a great mountain, but with all the amazing hiking to do in Hawaii, it's hard to imagine hiking up the whole, rather boring, road from sea to summit of Mauna Kea. I did it from the saddle road on up, and that was more than enough. Spend your hiking time at Kilauea, Mauna Loa, and other islands. If you're eager to do a sea-to-summit, i suggest Haleakala on Maui.
Hey, is anyone that participated in the below sea level to summit hike of Mauna Kea around? My fiancee and I are thinking of doing the hike as part of our honeymoon. Any advice/encouragement/discouragement is welcome