'Akaka Falls State Park
Round Trip Mileage: 0.5 mile
Elevation Gain: 75 feet
This small state park's main attraction is the free-falling 442' tall 'Akaka Falls along Kolekole stream. 'Akaka means "split, separation, or crack" in the Hawaiian language. A short, paved hiking trail leads to a lookout over 'Akaka Falls and also smaller Kahūnā Falls. It costs $5 for parking a car or $1 per pedestrian, payable at an electronic kiosk. There is no charge for Hawai'i residents. There is no camping and no fires allowed.
Trailhead: About ten miles north of Hilo town on Hwy. 19, turn mauka (uphill) on 'Akaka Falls Road (Hwy. 220). The turn is between the 13 and 14 mile markers along Hwy. 19. Drive a little more than three miles along the 'Akaka Falls Road as it travels uphill. The road dead-ends into the parking area for 'Akaka Falls State Park. The small lot fills up quickly.
Fee: $5 per car / $1 per pedestrian (no charge for Hawai'i residents)
Gear: You won't need much gear for this short hike along a paved trail. This part of the island gets a lot of rain, so you might want a rain jacket. Don't forget the mosquito repellent.
Hike: This short hike follows a paved trail that travels to both 'Akaka Falls and Kahūnā Falls through lush upcountry rainforest. The overview spot for 442 foot tall 'Akaka Falls is very picturesque and the views are expansive, but it's much more difficult to see 100 foot tall Kahūnā Falls from its overlook through the forest. The best time to visit this popular park is on a weekday, between about 9am and 11am. You'll probably beat the tour buses and the sun is high enough to illuminate the entire 'Akaka Falls.