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Hawaii National Volcanoes Park reopens Red Hill Cabin atop Mauna Loa

Hikers exploring the wild backcountry along the world's largest active volcano at Hawaii National Volcanoes Park can now stay at the recently reopened Red Hill Cabin, located at 10,035-feet elevation.

Following last year's eruption of Mauna Loa, the park reopened Mauna Loa Trail from the trailhead near Mauna Loa Lookout to Puʻuʻulaʻula (Red Hill). To get to the cabin, hikers must complete a steep, 7.5-mile hike at a high elevation and little shade from Mauna Lookout. Frommer's Travel Guides once called this trail "the most challenging hike in Hawaii."

Reaching the Red Hill Cabin isn't for everyone. "Backpackers to Mauna Loa should be adequately equipped, experienced in wilderness/high altitude trekking, and physically fit," according to the National Park Service website.

The Red Hill Cabin is at over 10,000 elevation.
The Red Hill Cabin is at over 10,000 elevation.

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How can you book a stay the Red Hill Cabin?

Hikers are required to have a permit to stay at the cabin, which they can register for at the visitor's center, and can only stay up to three consecutive nights.

The cabin has eight bunks with thin foam pads, attached water catchment tanks and composting toilets. Hikers are urged to check current water levels before getting their permits.

Hikers along the Mauna Loa Trail.
Hikers along the Mauna Loa Trail.

What to know before heading to the Mauna Loa Road trail

There is no drinking water provided at the Mauna Loa Road trailhead. It takes about one hour to drive from the Kilauea Visitor Center to the trailhead via Mauna Loa Road.

On the evening of Nov. 27, Mauna Loa began to erupt for the first time since 1984. While many tourists flocked to witness the spectacular event, many Native Hawaiians viewed it as the manifestation of their goddess, Pele.

Although the volcano's status has been downgraded to Green/Normal, last week, there are still "serious hazards," such as new lava that has covered trail markers, thin layers of solidified lava that can easily collapse and pockets of volcanic gas. Due to this, the rest of Mauna Loa Trail and the area above the cabin remains closed.

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at kwong@usatoday.com

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hawaii National Volcanoes Park reopens Red Hill Cabin atop Mauna Loa