Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Walking & Hiking

Walking and hiking in the park can be a fascinating experience. Trails range from easy walks such as Kīpukapuaulu or Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku), to intermediate (Mauna Iki), to extremely difficult (Halapē, Mauna Loa). Whenever you hike, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Carry sufficient drinking water adequate to the hike's difficulty, length and the expected temperature. Sturdy walking shoes, rain gear and sun protection are a must. Most trails are well-maintained and marked, but some backcountry trails are rough, marked only by "ahu," which are cairns (piles of rock). Pick up free trail guides and other information at Kīlauea Visitor Center. Topographic maps are for sale in the park as well as in Hilo and Kailua-Kona. Backcountry permits are required for overnight trips. Please see section below for specific trail information or visit online at ww.nps.gov/havo/trails.htm. 

HIKING TRAILS

Crater Rim

Circle the summit of Kīlauea Volcano in an all-day hike through the contrasting landscapes of cool rain forest and warm desert. This 11-mile (18 km) trail is partly paved, but also crosses ash deposits and lava rock. The hike begins at the Kīlauea Visitor Center.

Halema'uma'u Trail

Descend 400 feet (120 m) to the floor of Kīlauea Caldera and hike to Halema'uma'u Crater. Return the same way or via Byron Ledge and Crater Rim trails. Hike begins near Volcano House and is 6—7 miles (10—11 km) round-trip depending on route.

Kīlauea Iki Trail

Walk across a once-molten lake of lava in Kīlauea Iki (little Kīlauea) crater. The 4-mile (6.4-km) loop trail descends and ascends 400 feet (120 m) through a tropical rainforest and crosses a stark volcanic landscape on the crater floor. 

Earthquake Trail (Waldron Ledge)

Walk a section of Crater Rim Drive that was cracked and destroyed in 1983 by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake. This paved trail begins near Volcano House and is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. One mile (1.6 km) round-trip. -

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs

Walk to ki'i pōhaku (petroglyphs) carved into 500-year-old lava rock along this rocky, coastal trail. The Pu'u Loa trailhead, 20 miles (32 km) down the Chain of Craters Road, can be reached by car. From the parking area, the trail is 2 miles (3.2 km) round-trip. Petroglyphs (rock carvings) are fragile, so take care not to step on them.

Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku)

This 0.3-mile (0.5 km) loop trail begins at Thurston Lava Tube parking area. It is an easy, surfaced trail that passes through a rich fern forest and a lava tube. It only takes about 20 minutes round-trip. Stair climb is necessary to enter and exit the tube.

Devastation Trail

This paved path, which is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, takes you through the remains of a forest devastated by high lava fountains in 1959. Begin your walk at Devastation Trail or Pu'u Pua'i Overlook parking area and return along the same path. One mile (1.6 km) round-trip. -

Kīpukapuaulu

This one mile (1.6 km) loop trail begins one mile up Mauna Loa Road (can be reached from Highway 11). It is an easy, unpaved path through an "island" of forest and meadow rich with rare plants.

Mauna Iki 

Hike to Mauna Iki, a lava dome formed during the 1920 southwest rift zone eruption, along one of two trails. Drive down Highway 11 to the Ka'ū  Desert Trailhead and hike 3.6 miles (5.8 km) round-trip, or drive down Hilina Pali Road to the Mauna Iki Trailhead and hike 7 miles (11.2 km) round-trip. Both trails lead into the arid, wind-swept Ka'ū   Desert. Take care not to disturb the desert's fragile features.

Nāpau Crater

You can reach Nāpau Crater via a 14-mile (22.5 km) round-trip hike that begins at the Mauna Ulu parking area on the Chain of Craters Road. Along the way, you will pass by Pu'u Huluhulu, a prehistoric cinder cone, and Mauna Ulu, the vent for the 1969—1974 eruption. A short detour to the top of Pu'u Huluhulu offers excellent views of Kīlauea's east rift zone, including Pu'u'O'o, the currently active vent. You can also reach Nāpau Crater via the Nāulu Trail, which begins at Kealakomo on the Chain of Craters Road. This route is a 10.4-mile (16.7-km) round-trip hike. Note: For your safety, you must register before hiking this trail. A free back-country permit is available at Kīlauea Visitor Center between 7:45 a.m.and 4:45 p.m. daily.

Halapē

This 14-mile (22.5 km), two-day round-trip hike is for experienced backpackers only. The trail begins at the Keauhou Trailhead (Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu) or at the end of Hilina Pali Road. It descends 2,200 feet (670 m) down a steep cliff to a small beach. Hikers are advised to carry plenty of water and to be prepared for high heat and humidity. A free backcountry permit, available at Kīlauea Visitor Center between 7:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. daily, is required for this hike. 

Mauna Loa

This strenuous 38-mile (61 km), four-day round-trip trek begins at the top of Mauna Loa Road at an elevation of 6,662 feet (2030 m). It takes two days to climb to the south rim of Moku'āweoweo Caldera at 13,250 feet (4039 m). Most hikers spend the first night in a cabin at Red Hill (10,035 feet; 3059 m) and proceed to the summit shelter on the second day. It takes an additional half-day to hike around the caldera to the true summit at 13,677 feet (4169 m). Snow, wind and altitude sickness can be hazards. It is recommended only for experienced and well-equipped backpackers. A backcountry permit is required to climb Mauna Loa.