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Pu`u Pua`i erupts in 1959

Nahuku Lava Tube

Sulphur Crystals

Halema`uma`u Crater

Pu`u `O`o erupts in 1983

Petroglyphs at Pu`u Loa



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Hike 14 Trails in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

300 unique trail locations

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Trail Descriptions

Crater Rim Drive

The main feature of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the 11 mile Crater Rim Drive that encircles Kilauea's summit caldera. It passes through rainforest and desert and provides access to well marked scenic stops and other trails. On the drive around the summit Caldera, you will see Sulphur banks, Steam Vents, pit craters and recent lava flows. Two important stops are Halemaumau Crater and the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Kilauea Iki Trail

The Kilauea Iki Trail trail is one of the best in the park, offering excellent opportunities to enjoy Hawaiian rain forest and plants, see views of Kilauea Iki pit crater, Pu`u Pua`i cinder cone and explore features from the 1959 eruption. The trail is a 4 mile (6.5 km) loop that takes 2-3 hours to hike. One aspect that makes this trail interesting is the stark contrast between the forest on the rim and the near barren lava of the crater floor.

Nahuku (Thurston) Lava Tube

This 20-minute loop trail passes through a lush fern forest and a lava tube. 300-500 years ago during the `Ai la`au eruption, a channelized lava flow crusted over and formed the Nahuku lava tube. When the eruption stopped the lava drained from the tube. Subsequent collapse, probably associated with the formation of Kilauea Iki Crater, formed a small pit crater that cut across the tube. The trail descends along the wall of the crater then across its floor. The trail within the tube is 400 ft. long.

Devastation Trail

This is a 1 kilometer (5/8 mile) walk across a landscape devastated by an eruption on 1959. The 200 year old forest in this area was buried by falling cinder. The vegetation has grown back since 1959. Pu`u Pua`i cinder cone was formed immediately downwind of lava fountains, where volcanic debris piled 150 feet high. Devastation Trail presents a common story on the island of Hawai`i: the struggle between the creative forces of the rain forest and the destructive power of a volcanic eruption.

Sulphur Banks

Sulphur Banks Trail starts near the Volcano Art Center. After a short hike through rainforest, you will soon emerge into a clearing where the Sulphur Banks are located. Here, sulfur and other minerals are deposited by gases rising from deep inside the volcano. The trail continues through a path lined with steam vents and ends up at Crater Rim Drive.

Earthquake Trail

The Island of Hawai`i has more damaging earthquakes than a comparable area in California. The Earthquake Trail is the story of two recent earthquakes and their impact on the island. The trail passes in front of the Volcano House and follows an abandoned section of Crater Rim Drive.

Halema`uma`u Trail

This trail is 2.8 miles and begins near Halema`uma`u Crater. The trail continues along the floor of the caldera and ascends a thickly vegetated, jumbled terrain up to Volcano House Hotel. A walk out to the overlook of Halema`uma`u Crater convinces even the strongest skeptics that Kilauea is an active volcano. The gases released at the crater make an immediate impression on one's sense of smell and taste. The high amounts of sulfur dioxide are hazardous to young children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Byron Ledge Trail

Byron Ledge Trail starts on the floor of Kilauea Caldera. The trail ascends the crater wall and reaches Byron Ledge. Byron Ledge is a block of rock that is uplifted relative to down dropped rocks in Kilauea Iki crater and Kilauea Caldera. The trail continues towards the floor of the caldera and Halema`uma`u Crater, passing lava flows erupted in 1975, 1954, 1885, 1971 and 1974.

Chain of Craters

Chain of Craters Road originally connected Crater Rim Drive to Makaopuhi Crater and was completed in 1928. In 1964, the road was extended to Kalapana. Lava flows from the Mauna Ulu eruption closed Chain of Craters Road in 1969. The road was reopened to 1979. In 1986, lava from the current eruption of Kilauea closed the road. At the present time, Chain of Craters Road is about 20 miles (32 km) long and 7.5 miles (12 km) of the road has been buried by lava.

Pu`u huluhulu Trail

This trail starts at the Mauna Ulu parking area. Pu`u Huluhulu, "Hairy Hill", is the small tree-covered cone about one mile (0.6 km) distant. A walk to the top of Pu`u Huluhulu and back to the parking lot will take about one and a half hours. Remember to listen (for birds and to the wind), look (at plants, animals, and lava flows), smell (flowers), taste (lehua nectar), and feel (the texture of lava, leaves). Use your senses. This is one of the best hikes in any National Park.

Napau Trail

Napau Crater Trail is a challenging 10 mile (16 km) one-way hike from the Mauna Ulu parking lot to the Pu`u `O`o area. Features include lava flows from Mauna Ulu, Makaopuhi and Napau pit craters, and the active Pu`u `O`o cone. Hiking the entire trail will require all day. The Park Service recommends taking water and food and to expect rain and possibly strong winds. Stay on the trail to avoid brittle lava and deep cracks. Primitive camping is available at Napau Crater.

Pu`u O`o Trail

Pu`u `O`o Trail is a continuation of the Napau Trail. It offers excellent views of Pu`u `O`o, the main vent for the eruptions from 1983 to 1986 and the site of an active lava pond. The trail descends into Napau Crater, traverses the crater floor and continues to the edge of the Pu`u `O`o lava flows. Note: The Pu`u `O`o cinder cone and adjacent new lava flows are unstable, dangerous and closed to the public.

Pu`u Loa Trail

Pu`u Loa Petroglyphs - A two mile walk will introduce you to the largest known concentration of petroglyphs (rock carvings) in Hawai`i. Pu`u Loa is a pressure dome, somewhat higher than the surrounding areas of pahoehoe. The site is on the Kane Nui o Hamo lava flow. The early Hawaiians had no written form of communication, but petroglyphs may have been used to record important events and ideas of individuals or family groups. Pu`u Loa means "hill of long life". (Text courtesy NPS.)


The Chain of Craters Road continues in the coastal area on the gently-sloping south flank of the volcano. The lava flows in this area are 500-750 years old and erupted from Kane Nui O Hamo. At the end of the road is the lava viewing area and the youngest rocks in the park. If lava viewing conditions are favorable, a trail leads out from the end of the road and visitors can view the lava up close. The trail can be up to 1 mile each way and crosses fresh, glassy lava.


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