Approximately 10 minutes north of Lanai City
Lanai is the often forgotten and much more secluded of the Hawaiian islands. Less popular and far less developed than its neighbor Maui, Lanai offers visitors exciting scenery and unique adventures. One of these adventures is either hiking, biking or driving the Monro Trail, which is a one lane, 4-wheel drive only road leading to the top of Mount Lanaihale at 3,368 feet (the highest point on the island). Although the road is only 7 miles long, visitors driving the road should allow 3-4 hours and hikers a full day to complete the trip.
The trail was named for George Monro, a New Zealand naturalist who arrived on the island in 1890. Monro’s legacy can be seen along the way in the Cook pines growing along the route, which are not native to the island and were planted at Monro’s direction at the turn of the century. The trail gains 1,600 feet in elevation in its climb to the summit of Mt. Lanaihale, passing through dense rain forest to the cooler summit. The trail also offers spectacular views of Maunalei Gulch about 3 miles into the 7 mile journey. This gulch, which often has low sitting clouds wrapped around the trees growing in the gulch, was were ancient Hawaiians living on Lanai once fortified a stronghold against invading warriors from the Big Island. Their evidence in this area can be seen in the Hookio Notches etched into the middle ridge of the gulch.
While the road is rutted and tricky in certain spots, the view from the top is well worth the trek. On a clear day you can see 4 of the nearby Hawaiian islands, as well beautiful panoramic views of Lanai and Pacific horizon. The deep, dark, red dirt trail winding through the beautiful forest along the way is also beautiful and well worth the trip.
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas (there are definitely no stations along the way where you can fill up)
- Bring plenty of water and food (there are no service or facilities, so bring whatever you want to eat or drink with you)
- Check weather and road conditions before setting out. Storms can damage the road and you don’t want to get halfway to the top just to have to turn around again.
If you decide to hike/bike the trail, make extra sure to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen and a hat
Bring a light jacket, it can be cool and windy at the summit.
Take Keomuku Highway (430) North from Lanai City and turn right at Cemetery Road. Follow signs from there to the Monro Trail.