Mauna Loa Summit Cabin reopens in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

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Mauna Loa Summit Cabin. Photo Courtesy: NPS Photo/A.LaValle

The remote, high-elevation Mauna Loa Summit Cabin in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park near the summit of Mauna Loa volcano has reopened for overnight use and is accessible from ʻĀinapō Trail and Kapāpala Ranch.  

This extremely grueling, rocky and steep 10.2-mile hike is not for everyone. Hikers are urged to be prepared and know their limits. Water is available at the cabin, but must be treated before drinking.  

Cabin permits and gate access through the ranch are required and a high-clearance 4WD is needed for ʻĀinapō Road. Safety information, preparedness tips and directions to obtain a permit for Mauna Loa Summit Cabin are on the park website. Permits cost $10 (plus the park entrance fee) and can include up to 12 people for as many as three nights.  


The State of Hawaiʻi manages ʻĀinapō Trail and ʻĀinapō Cabin at Halewai (7,750 feet), where most hikers spend the night before heading to Mauna Loa Summit Cabin (13,250 feet). Overnight use of ʻĀinapō Cabin requires a state permit, the per-night fees are $30 for Hawaiʻi residents; $50 for non-residents. Visit the Hawaiʻi State Parks’ Wiki Permits webpage for reservation information.   

ʻĀinapō Trailhead and ʻĀinapō Cabin are accessed via the rough and bumpy eight-mile ʻĀinapō Road, an infrequently maintained 4WD road that passes through Kapāpala Ranch for 5.7 miles and continues another 2.3 miles through the Kapāpala Forest Reserve to the ʻĀinapō Trailhead. Limited parking is available. From ʻĀinapō Trailhead it is a challenging 2.7-mile hike to ʻĀinapō Cabin. From ʻĀinapō Cabin it is another difficult 7.5-mile hike to reach Mauna Loa Summit Cabin.  

For access through Kapāpala Ranch, go to Forest Reserve Access (Kapā and submit the new online form. Although some hikers have trekked up from Highway 11 to Mauna Loa Summit Cabin, this adds an additional eight miles on foot to the 10.2-mile hike and still requires cabin permits and gate access.  


To prepare the cabin for reopening, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park staff replaced the solar charger and batteries in the main lua (pit toilet), replaced the lua roof, installed rain catchment gutters on the cabin roof and shoveled out 565 pounds of waste that was flown off the mountain. Hawaiʻi State Trails staff recently conducted cabin maintenance and reflagged ʻĀinapō Trail.  

Mauna Loa Trail above Red Hill Cabin remains closed due to damage and hazards from the November 2022 Mauna Loa eruption.  

Lava from the eruption covered the floor of Mokuʻāweoweo caldera and about four miles of Mauna Loa Trail in eight different areas. Flow thickness ranges from a few feet to almost 70 feet and presents significant hazards. In addition to increasing the risk of getting lost in the absence of a trail, thin layers of solidified lava can collapse if walked on, causing lacerations or injury by falling into a cavity.   


More information, a video and a story map about the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption is available on the park website.

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