Mauna Loa

Photo of Mauna Loa
Photo uploaded by USGS photo by JD Griggs

Mauna Loa is the most massive mountain in the world, covering over 26,000 cubic miles, most of which is under the sea, rising from the ocean floor. Despite this impressive fact, Mauna Loa is the lower of Hawaii's two large volcanoes, the higher being Mauna Kea (13,796 ft.). There are two active craters associated with the mountain, one (Kilauea) located on its southeast flank, and another (Mokuaweoweo) located on the summit. Both are conatined with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Kilauea is a huge bowl, whose level of volcanic activity fluctuates, and sometimes its crater floor is entirely exposed. Often, however, the crater is a deep cauldron of glowing red lava, and is a popular tourist attraction, particularly at night. Kilauea has an extensive history of eruptions throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including an eruption in 1983 which blanketed 30,000 acres with lava, and created 180 acres of new land offshore. $62 million property damage was assessed from this eruption, and lava from the eruption continues to flow today. Mokuaweoweo, the summit crater, covers 3.7 square miles, and is over 4,000 feet deep. It too has a long eruptive history. Its eruptions have seldom been explosive, although a series of violent eruptions occurred in 1880-81 in which lava spread for over fifty miles.

Elevation (feet): 13,677
Elevation (meters): 4,169
Continent: North America
Country: United States
State: Hawaii
Latitude: 19.4786
Longitude: -155.608
Difficulty: Walk up
Best months for climbing: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Volcanic status: Active
Most recent eruption: 2005, ongoing
Nearest major airport: Honolulu, Hawaii
Convenient Center: Hilo, Hawaii

Trip Reports

There are 15 trip reports for Mauna Loa.

  • Log #20639 - by an anonymous user on Jan 29, 20073.00 stars
    Lots and lots and lots of lava. Lots. More than that. Did I mention the lava? Surreal (colors and shapes by Dali), beautiful, and a little dangerous -- a fall on the jagged lava could be...
  • Log #5393 - by Ben Partovi on Sep 16, 20043.00 stars
    started at the observatory trail at around 11000 ft at first light, by myself. Powered my way to the summit in just under 4 hours (13700 ft). Got a bad headache but water, deep breathing and advil...
  • Log #5395 - by Jeff Watkins on Sep 15, 20043.00 stars
    I hiked up from the NOAA station at daybreak, using two walking sticks that gave me much-needed power assistance going up, stability crossing rough 'a'a flows, and shock absorbancy coming down. Will...
  • Log #5396 - by Alison Lowen on June 30, 20033.00 stars
    Great hike! The day started out clear, but we encountered sleet and snow on the way down. Bring raingear and warm clothes no matter what time of year!! Wish we had!
  • Log #5398 - by Kevin Hedlund on Mar 06, 20033.00 stars
    Summited Mauna Loa from VNP the first time. Trail is very long (18 miles). Very difficult to pace yourself with the long stretches of clinker (a'a) lava. Frost at Red Hill but no snow at the summit.
  • Log #5399 - by Scott Patterson on Mar 05, 20033.00 stars
    No other people on four day hike (Red Hill Route). Snow on summit.
  • Log #5401 - by Mark Montgomery on Mar 04, 20033.00 stars
    I just completed what I believe to be my 7th summit of Mauna Loa. Four of us left the Mauna Loa Observatory parking lot at just over 11,000 ft just before 8:00 a.m. It took us about 6 hours to make...
  • Log #5402 - by Gregg Bergae on May 08, 20023.00 stars
    Climbed up Ainapo trail and down Mauna Loa trail. Ainapo to the cabin has interesting flora. Cabin @8k is great! (be sure to load up on H20 for the summit climb...there's a few ice/snow sources, but...
  • Log #5403 - by Gerhard Horter on Apr 13, 20023.00 stars
    We came from Red Hill Hut and had very good weatherconditions. But the way back to Red Hill was very very long.
  • Log #5404 - by Betty Crocker on Feb 28, 20023.00 stars
    It was a great experiencefor me. This is the first challenging thing i had ever climbed. So this is basically where I started.
  • Log #5406 - by Jeff Watkins on Feb 27, 20023.00 stars
    Fantastic climb from the NOAA station. Next time, will go much earlier in the morning so I can stay longer. Take a good flashlight in case you stay too long!
  • Log #5407 - by Steve Seidel on Nov 22, 20003.00 stars
    3 days of never ending lava !! The 3 days we spent on Mauna Loa were GREAT !!! It was like being on the moon .... Once above Red Hill cabin there was total solitude .. nothing but us and Pele
  • Log #5409 - by Juston on Dec 14, 19993.00 stars
    The view to the ocean is stupendous. The view to Mauna Kea and over Kileaua is to be witnessed.
  • Log #5410 - by Jim Phillips on Mar 29, 19993.00 stars
    Be careful of the Bees at the summit. Water, water drink more. After a snow fall is then the sight to see looking down into the active volcanic crater, Moku'aweoweo from the summit peak.
  • Log #20382 - by Doug Arnott and Bob Mayo on Sep 15, 20063.00 stars
    This was Dougs 66th birthday affirmation climb, we trained extensively on Muana Kea to acclimate. Starting at 7:00am we made it to what we thought was the summit just before noon, there was cairn a...