Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This trail surpassed by expectations, traveling through lush rain forest and across the crater floor, which I at first thought would not be that exciting. But it was fascinating to see the cracked earth up close, and the new plants that are coming in. Bonus - we were there the morning of May 4, right before the big earthquakes struck, so we got to experience it before the park closed.

Easy trail. Gorgeous views!

Having seen this place on an organized tour, I was determined that one day I would come back and do this hike, Well today was that day. Fantastic little hike with amazing views of the crater below while walking through the rain forest, then down into the crater floor, to bed of lava that took years to cool. Just imagine the raw power of nature around you. The steam vents serve as a reminder that there is still hot molten magma flowing in the area. Great for a small couple hour morning hike.

beautiful hike. rainforest and young crater bed all in one...

Great hike - not too challenging, my boyfriend's parents (around 60, and one with a bionic hip) enjoyed doing this trail with yes and how sister. amazing mix of exposed volcanic rock and jungle. I wish it had been chat the whole day since we couldn't see all the way out from the lookout, but we did get a brief glimpse before we started and the view was amazing. easily done within a couple of hours (could probably compete in an hour if you're in good shape)

Did this with our two young kids today. 4 miles total but a nice mix of rainforest vegetation and a dry lava crater. May be one of my favorite hikes of all times and certainly underrated!!

A lovely little hike with interesting volcano Info and looks into the crater 50 years after the explosion. Loved the Ohia trees and birds.

The starting point shown on this map is actually the Thurston Lava Tube 30 minute parking lot. You should park instead at the Kilauea Iki parking lot you will encounter before you get to that parking lot, and you can see it in the AllTrails map. We went counterclockwise instead, and it was a fine hike. Beautiful transition from rainforest to rugged rock and the smoother crater floor. Warm steam vents at the bottom were fascinating. Go through the Thurston Lava Tube at the end to appreciate the magnitude of what goes on underground in a volcano.

Neat hike through island rain forest and down into an inactive volcano's crater. According to the NPS, the volcano last erupted in 1959 sending lava 1900 feet into the air. Incredible to consider all the plant life that has grown in around the rim of the crater considering what must have been left after such a violent irruption. The rainforest along the rim was lush and green which was an amazing contrast to what you find in the crater once you descend in. It was like walking through an asphalt paved valley, complete with steam as if parts of the asphalt were freshly laid! Also amazing was the plant life that has begun to grow through the lava to begin reclaiming the crater floor. We hiked this on a day when the air quality was rated as unhealthy for sensitive groups, but felt no effects. Bring water, as it does get hot on the crater floor. The descent and ascent back out of the crater are a good workout. We also through on the Lava Tubes at the tail end of the hike before returning to the parking lot where we parked the rental car. Great hike!

Great fairly easy hike. Closer to 4 Miles making the whole loop. I advise taking the recommended path starting with the long side of the crater rim on top. Awesome flora and fauna along the way, and the descent into the crater is steeper that way than the ascent will be in the other end. Plus, you will end up close to the entrance of Thurston Lava Tube which is just under 0.5 mile lava tube you can walk through.

Done in September 2017.

Nice and easy hike, beautiful scenery, beautiful contrast between the forest and the desertic look of the crater :)

Great hike, see the rain forest and the crater

Did this one a little over a week ago. Amazing, especially in the rain! Can’t miss this if you’re on the big island.

My husband and I walked this trail on a cool rainy day and it was absolutely fantastic! Start in lush rain forest then pick your way through lava rocks, then walk along the flat surface of the caldera. Be sure and pick up a guide at the start of the trail to learn interesting facts along the way. We arrived around 9:30 and found a convenient parking place and started hiking. We encountered very few people until toward the end. As others have said - walk counter clockwise on this trail. Also, when it seems you have reached the end - you haven't - continue walking along the overflow parking area and follow the trail back to the main Kilauea Iki parking lot. Do not miss this!

Nice trail and view of crater.

Awesome trail through gorgeous rain forest and across the crater. We went early so it was nice and cool. Would definitely hike it again.

Very cool! Grab a trail guide from the Kilauea Iki trailhead for a number of informational blurbs at marked points along the hike.

excellent trail. The wind can really get to roaring down in the crater. Very exposed. Bring lots of water and sunblock.

Amazing views and worth the hike to say the least

Amazing hike. Entire family down to 7 year old did it without any complaints. The forest parts were amazing and then in the crater is otherworldly. The switchbacks on the way back up were the only tiring part.

I summited Mauna Loa in November and no surprise, it was cold!

There is a lot of very important gear BUT, the 5 items that I'm super glad I had?
1. Altitude medication. I got altitude sickness at night and it was rough, I probably would have had to turn back if I didn't have it.
2. Buff. The wind, sun, and cold are HARSH up there. Face/head/neck protections is essential.
3. Down 20F rated sleeping bag. So cold. High quality temp rated gear is good to have.
4. Sunglasses with side wind/sun protection.
5. Wish I HAD brought lip balm. My lips were MESSED UP toward the end and after the trip. Wish I had remembers chapstick.

My Route:
Day 1: Hike from 5 miles out from the trailhead on Mauna Loa Road (due to road work), to Pu’u ‘Ula’ula cabin 12.8mi
Day 2: Pu'u 'Ula'ula to Mauna Loa summit cabin 11.5mi
Day 3: Mauna Loa summit cabin to true summit, then back down Pu’u ‘Ula’ula cabin 17mi
Day 4: Rest and explore trails around Pu'u 'Ula'ula
Day 5: Hike back down to my drop off point 12.8mi

About 54 miles in all.

Some random useful tips...

-During the day I sometimes needed a wool/synthetic base layer + wind shirt + fleece, as well as gloves, face shield, sunglasses, and hat for sun and wind protection. Temps ranged from mid 30's Fahrenheit to 50’s during the day in the broad sunlight, 28F or so at night. With chill factor? Pretty cold.

-No fires allowed, there's no wood to be found anyway. No heat in the cabins, it's simply shelter. In Nov 2018, the bunk mattresses were still very clean and comfortable.

-Get your permit with the Back Country office in Volcano National Park. There you can find out current water catchment tank levels, cabin occupancy, and mountain conditions (though you can look the weather up online.)

-Altitude Sickness can affect anybody no matter how strong or awesome you are, makes no difference. Be ready for it, get a prescription, start taking it a few day before you start your ascent.

-The cabins are awesome and we're fortunate to have them! If you do use them, be clean and respectful. Leave them cleaner than when you found them. Normal camping philosophy applies. Leave no trace. Pack out what you pack in.

I was lucky I went when I did. The following week it was expected to snow 20-30 inches. Plan your trip carefully, but be ready to roll with the punches. Weather up there is unpredictable, you might have to delay your start date if there are windstorms or white-out.

6 months ago

One of the most amazing hikes I’ve ever been on

Sympa. En partant directement du visitor center cela permet d’avoir aussi une vue sur le cratère Halema’um’a.

Awesome hike! Through the lush forest switchbacks down into the lava lake. The vents are nice warm. The crater is like something out of this world. Paired these trails along portions of others for a 7 mile trip, parked at the visitors center. Several steep sections, definitely a challenge.

Fantastic hike through beautiful greenery, with distant views of the bigger crater and steam wafting past. Heading down into this crater was just amazing. We loved the steep decent and moon like walk across the middle with steam pockets along the way.

Not the prettiest hike, but very interesting geologically.

Pretty place, very family friendly and open to a lot of exploration. Try to stay on the path and not to damage the surrounding areas by bush-wacking. I recommend going early since there are a lot of people mid-day to dusk. If you get there early and you stand in the middle of the crater, it's such a surreal experience - you can hear your heart beat!

amazing hike.
loved walk across the crater, steam vents and looking at new vegetation starting to come through.

My favorite hike at HVNP. I always take visitors on this one and have never had a complaint.

If you'll do just one hike in Volcano National Park, make it this one. You'll see a bit of everything and it's accessible to most hikers.

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