Hiking Hawaii – Kaulana Manu Nature Trail

One of the benefits of living in Hawaii is the opportunity to be outside just about every day of the year. With steady warm temps year round, (depending on where you are in Hawaii) it’d be a crime to not get outside! So, I’d like to feature different trails that are fun opportunities to explore, hike and enjoy Hawaii, the Big Island!

Kaulana Manu Nature Trail

kaulana manu nature trail

The Kaulana Manu trail is a nice, short hike off of Saddle Road (Hwy 200 on the Big Island) at mile marker 21. It’s fairly new, within the last few years, and it has bathrooms. I remember when it was being worked on, parking being paved, trails created and we were excited to see how it would turn out. Well, my husband and I enjoy it!

At only 0.4 miles, it’s not long and you can bring a dog on a leash. It starts out at the parking lot and there are painted feet to show you to the trailhead. It is 15 acres and all fenced in, as to keep wild goats/sheep/pigs out, so definitely close the gate behind you. The trail is a nice big circle so you can begin at either end and you’ll end up where you started.

footsteps leading to hiking trail

Footsteps showing you the way

What You’ll See

Since this trail is full of native plants, you’ll see everything from the beautiful ohi’a and koa trees to ferns, shrubs and tree ferns.

ohia tree

Ohia tree on the trail

It’s also a great place to go birding! With the ohi’a trees around, it’s a gathering place for the infamous ‘i’iwi and ‘apapane. The ‘i’iwi is hard to spot since it’s so fast but it’s known for its long curved salmon colored beak. My husband loves to try to find this bird to snap its picture but it’s proven to move quickly and doesn’t stay in one spot for long! The ‘apapane looks similar in color to the ‘i’iwi but its beak is shorter and black.  You’ll also see quite a few other birds found on the island!

You’ll also have an amazing view of the tallest mountain in the world! There’s a great little viewing deck of Mauna Kea and if the sky is clear, it will be absolutely beautiful! When we were there last, Mauna Kea had snow and there were clouds but it was still a sight to see.

mauna kea description

Sign describing Mauna Kea

Do I Recommend?

Yes! This is a low incline trail, not long, and has lots of signs to point out all the plants and trees. It’s a very informative trail and a nice little jaunt in nature if you’re traveling across Saddle Road. Make sure you dress for the weather. You might hit anything from sunshine and 70 degrees to rain and 50 degrees! Always be prepared and remember to be respectful of the land.

Happy hiking Hawaii!

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C. Kneiszler

March 1, 2023

Very informative and well written, Tiphany.

Sharon Reamer

March 2, 2023

I’m moving to Hawaii this summer. Are there trails that don’t allow dogs? I have a pomeranian who loves being outside and will want to take her hiking. I’ve been wondering about this and see that this particular trail is good for leashed dogs.


March 2, 2023

> Aloha Sharon! Congrats on moving out this summer! That’s an exciting time. A lot of trails in Hawaii do allow dogs on a leash, even in Volcanoes National Park dog are allowed on most trails. You’ll definitely want to research a trail before heading out with your pup as it could be very rocky and rough on their feet. I have a dog backpack for my small dog and that works great to be able to take them and not have to worry about the terrain. A good website to use to look at state trails is: There are state parks that do not allow dogs so if you have a place you’re wanting to go, it’s best to do a quick online search about it. Let me know if I can help answer any other questions!

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