Backpacker

17. Holy Hikes

OBSERVATORY TRAIL HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HI

As you hike past lava tubes and across loose cinder on 13,677-foot Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, you’ll be a guest in the home of Pele, the powerful goddess of Hawaiian volcanoes. Her white dog is said to roam the slopes of the mountain when an eruption and smoother rocks. Pass the North Pit, part of the Moku’aweoweo Caldera, near mile 3.8, then continue another 2.6 miles to the true summit, where you can breathe some of the clearest, cleanest air on earth (a result of altitude plus seaborne air). Make it an overnight: Snag a bunk in the Mauna Loa summit cabin ($10 wilderness permit required).

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