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Observatory Trail

Intermediate

Trail

3.8 mile 6.2 kilometer point to point
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,959' 597 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 12,999' 3,962 m
Low: 11,040' 3,365 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Map Key

Trail shared by Megan W

This remote and challenging route visits the spectacular Mauna Loa caldera area.

Megan W

Features Views

Description

The Observatory Trail is also called the North Pit Trail on some maps. From the parking lot near the Mauna Loa Observatory (11,200 ft), ascend the lava field following occasional ahu lava cairns. Pass by collapsed lava tubes and cones, keeping an eye out for voclanic glass and other colored deposits.

Enjoy views north across the island to Mauna Kea. Some sections of this trail are comprised of an old, two-track, jeep road. Upon reaching the caldera rim, marvel at the immense size of the crater and the forces that created it. The Observatory Trail ends at a junction with the Mauna Loa Summit Trail and Cabin Trail.

Beware of altitude sickness, bring warm clothes, sun protection, excess water and food. Expect extreme and rapidly changeable weather. To avoid getting the bends, scuba divers should not ascend Mauna Loa within 24 hours of their last dive.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna

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Check-Ins

Jan 23, 2020
Olivia Lynn
13,000 ft summit with 1,600 gain. Altitude sickness, windburn, snow blindness, worth it. 7.6mi
Aug 20, 2019
Matt Hayden
Aug 20, 2019
Mac Sec
Apr 2, 2017
Reed Simmons
Mar 20, 2016
Nate Hart
Really dry and warm rough terrain all at altitude sickness heights. great views. 7.9mi — 5h 35m

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Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 3 votes

#7395

Overall
  4.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
33%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#44

in Hawaii

#7,395

Overall
22 Views Last Month
946 Since Mar 5, 2016
Intermediate

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Photos

Cairns of Mauna Loa with Mauna Kea on the background. with permission from Andrew Stehlik
Mar 5, 2016 near Kealakekua, HI

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