The Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club

Hawaii's Twenty Most Prominent Peaks

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Note: this list of Hawaii's Twenty Most Prominent Peaks is provided as a service with permission of the authors Edward Earl and Andy Martin We are not responsible for the accuracy or subsequent use of the information.


Warning: This list is based solely on landform information. Some of these peaks are impossible or extremely dangerous to climb, and some are in restricted areas.

 PEAK  USGS Quad Map (Peak) Prominence Elevation.  Saddle Elevation  USGS Quad Map (Saddle)  ISLAND
 Mauna Kea  Mauna Kea 13,796  0 Sea Level  Hawaii
Red Hill, Haleakala
Kilohana 10,023 0 Sea Level Maui
Mauna Loa  Mauna Loa 7,079+  6,600  Puu O'O  Hawaii
Puu Kukui (see note below)
 Lahaina 5,668 120-(20) Wailuku Maui
 Waialeale 5,243 0 Sea Level Kauai
 Kamalo  4,970 0 Sea Level Molokai
 Haleiwa 4,040+ 0 Sea Level Oahu
 Lanai S 3,379+ 0 Sea Level Lanai
 Hualalai 3,071+  5,200-(40  Hualalai Hawaii
 Kaumu O Kaleihoohie
 Kamuela 2,560+ 2,920-(40)  Kukuihaele Hawaii
High Point in eastern Oahu
 Honolulu 2,270+ 880-(20) Schofield Barracks Oahu
Kamalo  1,802+ 2,800-(50) Kamalo Molokai
 Lihue 1,657+ 640-(40) Koloa Kauai
 3 tiny unnamed areas
 Hauula 1,640+ 1,200-(40) Honolulu Oahu
 Lahaina 1,557+ 2,640-(40) Lahaina Maui
 Nahiku 1,547+ 7,360-(40) Nahiku Maui
 Wailuku 1,536+ 3,080-(40) Lahaina Maui
 Kapilau Ridge
 Wailuku 1,506+ 2,920-(40) Wailiuku Maui
 HP Kahoolawe
 Kahoolawe 1,483+? 0 Sea Level Kahoolawe
 Puu Kaua
 Schofield Barracks 1,407+ 1,720-(40) Schofield Baracks Oahu

 Notes -

Seven of the 20 peaks are island HP.

Of the remaining 13, three are on Big Island of Hawaii.

These three are large volcanos, and should not be too hard to climb for experienced Hawaii hikers. (This is not to say that permission to access is available for Hualalai and Kaumu O Kaleihoohie)

Additional info on Puu Kukui, Maui, is provided by Hank Oppenheimer, along with some additional factors to consider when hiking in Hawaii:

"Puu Kukui is owned and managed by Maui Pineapple Co. and is closed to the public except for valid scientific research and the rare opportunity to volunteer on one of our service trips to help remove invasive plant species. Encouraging people to attempt to hike to the summit of West Maui increases the likelyhood that additional, harmful alien species will be introduced and established on W. Maui, Maui, or the state of Hawaii. It also means weeds will be hitchhiking on people's boots and other gear from lower, weedier elevations to more fragile and pristine areas at higher elevations. This is a HUGE problem for us, as well as the people of Maui, as it degrades our precious watershed and unique Hawaiian biota. Furthermore, the trampling of rare and endangered plants, many diminutive and thus inconspicuous, many found only on West Maui, is of great concern, as is the physical degrading of the montane bogs ( a rare ecosystem in HI) just by the simple act of setting foot on them. Additionally, trespassers are also known to vandalize private property, including strategic feral ungulate exclosure fences built at considerable time andexpense. It is also known that many underestimate the terrain, vegetation, and climate of Hawaiian rainforests; some of these people have been lost and rescued, while others have not been so lucky. Some of the other peaks mentioned are also on private property and/or are in fragile and sensitive natural areas, and are off-limits."


Prominence is the elevation difference between a peak and the lowest contour that encircles it and no higher summit.

One way to describe prominence it is to imagine the ocean rising to the top of peak X. Then gradually drop the water level, like draining a bathtub. Peak X will be on a small island that gets larger as the water level drops. Continue dropping the water until the island merges with another island with a higher peak. The point where the islands first touched is the prominence determining saddle. The prominence of peak X is its height above the water when the islands first touched.

Of course if Peak X is the high point of a Hawaiian island, we don't have to go through all this, the prominence is exactly the same as height above sea level.

For peaks like Mauna Loa on Hawaii, we see that there is a higher peak on Hawaii (Mauna Kea), and we have to go through the "draining bathtub" line of reasoning. In practice this means tracing watershed
lines from peak to peak and looking for the lowest saddle, which is kind of fun if you like working with topo lines, but pretty nasty for most people. Edward Earl's computer program that determines prominence from USGS grid data is a powerful tool for helping with this work.

How to read the elevation notations:

For example: Olokui 1,802+ 2,800- (50)

1,802+ is the prominence elevation above the saddle.

2,800- (50) means the 2800 foot contour lies just above the saddle, and the map has 50 foot contour spacing. Thus the actual saddle elevation is in the range 2750 to 2799.

Another explanation, Olokui summit has a prominence of 1802 feet or more, and the prominence determining saddle is lower than 2800 feet.

To compute, total elevation = prominence + saddle elevation.

4,602 = 1,802 + 2,800

Copyright 1999 by Edward Earl and Andy Martin

Edward Earl

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