Pepeiao is in the southwestern reaches of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park backcountry. The cabin is no longer safe for use and visitors should plan on tent camping.
The cabin may be accessed from two trailheads;
1.) Hilina Pali Overlook via the Hilina Pali Trail - 4.8 miles (accessed via Hilina Pali Road).
2.) Kaʻū Desert Trailhead via the Kaʻū Desert Trail - 9.1 miles (accessed via Hwy 11).
It can also be accessed from coastal Kaʻaha via the Kaʻaha Trail - 6.0 miles. Campers may stay a maximum of 3 consecutive nights. A total of 16 hikers are allowed per night. Backpackers to Pepeiao should be adequately equipped, experienced in wilderness trekking, and physically fit.
GPS coordinates of the Pepeiao Cabin: 19.26470, -155.35881
All eight backcountry campsites (Ka‘aha, Halapē, Keauhou, ‘Āpua Point, Nāpau, Pepeiao, Red Hill Cabin and Mauna Loa Cabin) require a permit.See the Backcountry Hiking page for instructions on how to obtain your permit.
Ka'aha, Halapē, and Keauhou have three-walled primitive shelters where hikers may enjoy a respite from the sun. Water caught off the roofs of these shelters are stored in adjacent catchment tanks (check with rangers when you obtain your permit for current water levels -- water is NOT always available and there are no streams in the area). TREAT water obtained from catchment tanks before drinking. There is no drinking water at ʻĀpua Point or Nāpau.
Intense sunlight, wind, and high temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion or stroke. Minimize hiking during the heat of the day (10am to 2pm). Pace yourself, drink fluids, eat snacks, and avoid hiking during the hottest times of day (usually mid-day 10 am to 2pm - but, it is blazing from the time the sun rises).
Wear sun protection - sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat. Take layers of clothing to regulate body temperature. Plan ahead - hydrate the day before your trek and drink fluids continually along the trail. Carry and drink a minimum of 4 quarts of water per person, per day.
During the day, temperatures can soar into the high 90s or higher. The elderly, infants, and those taking antihistamines and certain types of medication for high blood pressure or depression are especially at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Trails may be steep and rocky. Watch your footing along the hot and windy trails. Stay on the trail! Do not cut across switchbacks as this accelerates erosion. Trails are marked by stone cairns (ahu) that may be difficult to see in the rain and mist, and impossible to find in the dark. Trails are rocky and uneven, and may be overgrown with thick vegetation.
Seismic and Volcanic Hazards
An earthquake can cause a locally-generated tsunami (seismic sea wave) at the coast. If you feel a strong earthquake while on the coast, move to high ground immediately. Earthquakes can also produce large rock falls -- avoid potential rock fall areas. Stay on the trail -- earth cracks, thin crusts, and lava tubes are numerous.
Thick grass and brush create a fire hazard in the coastal area. Do not smoke while hiking. Campfires, firearms, and fireworks are prohibited.
In the Ka'ū Desert and coastal areas west of Ka'aha, there may be unexploded WWII ammunition. If you should see any, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Report the location to rangers.
Pesky and Dangerous Animals
Centipedes, scorpions, and black widow spiders are common in stone walls and rocky areas. Sharks are sometimes seen in coastal waters. Beware of sea urchins (wana), tubeworm casts, and sharp rocks when wading or swimming. Mongooses, mice, and feral cats thrive on unattended food supplies. Store food securely and keep a clean camp. To keep out insects, tents with fully zipable screens are recommended
Protect Plants, Animals, and Archeological Sites
It's a Good Idea and It's the Law
Archeology - Respect and help protect Hawaiian archeological sites. Do not climb on or alter any rock structures, such as walls, house platforms, pits, and mounds. Avoid walking on or making rubbings of petroglyphs.
Pets and Stock Use - Dogs (except service animals) and other pets are not allowed on park trails or in wilderness areas. Horses, donkeys, and mules are allowed in the backcountry with a valid backcountry permit (limit of 6 animals per site). Tether livestock at least 100 feet from campsites in an area that presents no hazard or sanitation problems to other campers. Hikers encountering horse parties should quietly step off the trail and allow the animals to pass.
Give Us Your Feedback
Let us know about trail, cabin, or campsite conditions. Did you notice anything damaged or dangerous conditions that rangers should be aware of? File a Trip Report