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Top 4 Hiking Trails on the Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii's Big Island has excellent hiking trails. Here's some top ones to explore.

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Hi, I'm Margot!

Margot Bigg is a journalist who has lived in the UK, the US, France, and India. She’s the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India and Fodor's Pacific Northwest. Her stories have appeared in Rolling Stone India, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, and VICE.

With its unusual mix of lunar-like lava fields and tropical jungle, the Big Island offers some of the most scenic hiking in the Hawaiian Islands. Here are a few of the most popular trails there.

1. Mauna Ulu/Pu‘u Huluhulu Hike

Hikers walk on solidified lava on the Mauna Ulu hike on Big Island.
Hikers at Mauna Ulu.Photo Credit: Maridav / Shutterstock

2.5 miles (4 kilometers)

This hike takes you through lava tree molds to the solidified remains of the Mauna Ulu flow. Most of the hike is fairly easy but one portion features a challenging 210-foot (64-meter) ascent to the Pu‘u Huluhulu cinder cone. Your reward? Views over Mauna Ulu and, on clear days, all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.

2. Ha'akulamanu (Sulphur Banks) Trail

Visitors enjoy a walkway at Ha'akulamanu on Big Island.
Visitors to steaming Ha'akulamanu.Photo Credit: mmapar / Tripadvisor

1.2 miles (2 kilometers)

This trail is a good place to see volcanic steam and gases rising from solidified lava. It combines paved pathways with wooden boardwalks dotted with interpretive signs, and it’s wheelchair accessible.

3. Kaumana Trail

A hiker takes on the stairway of Kaumana.
A hiker on Kaumana.Photo Credit: Jeremy 044 / Tripadvisor

2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers)

Situated in the Upper Waiakea Forest Reserve, this trail is a great option for families and those with less hiking experience. It's surrounded by misty forest and offers great views of Mauna Kea, without much elevation gain.

4. Waipio Valley Trail

Visitors check out the sheer cliffs of Waipio Valley on the coast.
Visitors at a lookout in Waipio Valley.Photo Credit: Fominayaphoto / Shutterstock

3.8 miles (6.1 kilometers)

The lush, forested Waipio Valley is considered one of the prettiest places on the Big Island, and is best experienced on foot. This hike involves navigating some steep and muddy hills (and dodging the 4x4s that frequent the area) but if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll be rewarded with access to a secluded beach with unique ocean views.

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