Without volcanoes there would be no Hawaii. Fortunately for the world, Hawaii's volcanoes continue to produce their famous molten lava, which results in a growing mass of paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. One of the most spectacular spots to witness this natural miracle in action is on the Big Island of Hawaii at Volcanoes National Park, where two active volcanoes (Mauna Loa and Kilauea) regularly spout ash clouds, smoke and hot lava into the sea. Visitors can hike around the park and experience an incredible range of microclimates and sites, from rain forests to eerie lava tubes to spectacular views of the ocean. Volcanic activity is responsible for a new island that is currently being created in Hawaii, which would bring the total number of islands to 9 in the state's chain. Just off the southern coast of the Big Island is Loihi, an underwater volcano that has been erupting since 1996. The new island is scheduled to break the ocean's surface in about 250,000 years, so we have a while before we need to book our reservations.
I walked in here a ways on a trip back in 92' Kilauea was really active so it was spooky in here. You feel like there would be no retreat if lava started heading your way. Even though I knew that wasn't possible, it was still creepy that day. I didn't go all the way to the end as others with me were waiting back in the car. It was interesting though and is easy to do.
Not sure why this trail is rated "easy". It's long (11 miles round trip) and about 3 miles of that are over challenging lava rock. And since the best time to see the lava flow is at dusk the hike back is in the dark. Bring a flashlight and tons of water. Fantastic hike though (at least until the lava flow stops).
A great way to see steam vents without crowds, many steaming vents along this trail. I went counter clockwise from Volcano lodge. Stair case at beginning and end were a bit steep but very doable. I only saw one other person on thus trail, peaceful walk and nice overlook into the crater too.
The trip to the steam plume is long and hot! Your will walk about 4 miles on a gravel service road then another couple miles across an old lava field to the best viewing spot of the plume near the ocean. The day we hiked I would guess the viewing spot was about ½ mile from the actual out pouring of lava. We did not see any red lava only steam an what looked like an occasional explosion of rock. From talking to others it sounds like the barricade has been moved back significantly from recent weeks due to shearling cliffs. The day we were there there was a surface flow occurring about ½ mile straight back from the ocean cliff. I would recommend plenty of water, snacks and sturdy shoes. My ankles were pretty sore afterwards due to all of the uneven terrain that you walk on, I was wearing Chaco shoes. Glad we did it!