Halape (via Keauhou Trail)
Distance: (Hilo Airport to Mau Loa Mauna Ulu trailhead)- 40 mi
Driving Time: 1 hr
Follow the trailhead directions for the Napau Crater trip to the turnoff for Mauna Ulu.
Continue along Chain of Craters Rd. passing Kipuka Kahali`i on the left.
Park in the vehicle turnout for the Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu trailhead on the right (elev. 2,680 ft).
Day One - Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu trailhead to Halape
Length: 8.5 mi
Elev. Loss: 2,700 ft
At the turnout pick up the Keauhou Trail just past an interpretive sign.
Descend gradually on the 1974 lava flow from Mauna Ulu. Ahu (cairns) mark the route over the bare pahoehoe.
Parallel the edge of a scrub `ohi`a forest. Look for nene, the Hawaiian goose.
Bear right into the forest. Along the trail are the native shrubs pukiawe and `a`ali`i.
Angle gradually downslope on older, humpy pahoehoe through scattered `ohi`a.
Cross a narrow tongue of jagged `a`a lava.
Go through a break in a rock wall and a derelict fence line. Makai (seaward) is a view of the Ka`u coast.
Leave the forest and cross a flat, grassy area dotted with `a`ali`i.
Reach a junction with a rough dirt road. Turn left, still on the Keauhou Trail. (To the right the road climbs to Ainahou Ranch and Chain of Craters Rd.)
Descend Poliokeawe Pali (cliff) on four long lazy switchbacks.
The trail briefly works right along the base of the pali and then veers left toward the coast.
Descend gradually through open grassland for a long stretch. The trail swings from side to side to avoid rock outcrops.
Reach a signed junction. Keep right on the Pu`u`eo Pali Trail. (To the left the Keauhou Trail continues down to the Keauhou shelter and the junction with the Puna Coast Trail.)
Contour along the slope over older pahoehoe covered with grass.
Pass a prominent rock outcrop in the distance on the left.
Descend gradually into a broad, shallow drainage and then climb out of it. On the right is Pu`u`eo Pali.
Cross a narrow band of clinkery `a`a lava.
Go through the rusted remains of a fence line.
Shortly afterward reach the end of the Pu`u`eo Pali Trail at a four-way junction (map point G). Turn left and down on the Halape Trail. (To the right the Halape Trail is unmaintained. Half right is the Hilina Pali Trail, which ascends to Hilina Pali overlook.)
Follow the day one route description of the original Halape trip from map point G.
Day Three - Halape to Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu trailhead
Length: 8.5 mi
Elev. Gain: 2,700 ft
Follow the day three route description of the original Halape trip to the signed junction with the Keauhou Trail just past the shelter. Turn left on the Keauhou Trail. (The Puna Coast Trail continues straight, along the coast.)
Go through a band of koa haole trees.
Cross two cracks in the lava.
Ascend Pu`u`eo Pali on three switchbacks.
Reach the familiar signed junction with the Pu`u`eo Pali Trail. Continue straight on the Keauhou Trail.
Follow the day one route description in reverse back to the trailhead.