Explore the most popular birding 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.

Awesome petroglyphs. Worth doing

Beautiful and interesting, description is spot on. Fun

We did a guided hike through Kalapana cultural tours, a 10 mile treacherous hike. Going up was fairly easy , it's not a marked trail so I wouldn't recommend doing on your own. There are no mile markers or anything to point where the lava is flowing except for the map from the satellite. Coming down in the dark on steep slippery surfaces in the rain was really hard. Fell a few times and wearing jeans( recommended by the tour) didn't get any blisters. Our guides were really helpful, patiently guided our slowest hikers too, carried ponchos, gloves and extra headlights and a firstaid kit. There's no way we would have made it back in one piece if not for them. This is truly a lifetime experience but definitely go prepared with lots of water and snacks and whole lot of fitness and determination.

Really nice walk to fascinating ancient drawings in lava.

Rumor has it there is no lava flowing for the past 10 days, per the Park ranger. Some people report having seen it on social media (Instagram #kalapana and #kalapanalavaflow) but we did a 10.5 mi, 4 hour hike to no avail. Another family starting at the same time as us, covering a different portion of the lava field also reported no active flow that they could see. Would definitely call the park before you venture, the bike company told us to climb the ridge. Assured us we would see lava. So we hiked it up. Easy to climb up, not easy to climb down in the dark. We fell and ripped clothing and cut up our legs and arms. Lava splinters hurt! Would definitely do it again, but would also ask Park Rangers next time instead of just the bike sales-people! Definitely bring lots of water, good flashlights/headlamps and a raincoat/poncho, we got poured on while returning home!

nature trips
2 months ago

Cool hike- petroglyphs are neat. Nice hike with kids.

Yes absolutely should you rent a bike, and I command you to rent it from Stretch, the gentle giant with plush spirit animals tied to his bikes for half the price of the competitors. No, you do not need no stinking map, it will be obvious where to go, there's smoke. You will want to mark the location of your bike on your map though, as you'll be hiking back to it in pitch darkness, unless there's something wrong with you and you don't want to see lava in the dark. You want to see it in the dark. From the bike ditch point we hiked about 2 miles to the north east towards the slopes, there was no flow into the ocean that day. After your hike at dusk over crispity crunchy newly formed earth, you will come upon an the active area, active with lava and active with people. At this point you will start to notice many people freaking out as they realize their feet are burning. This should alarm you, especially if you're wearing Converse Chuck Taylor's (humanity's greatest hiking shoe), as you soon become aware that your feet are practically on fire because you just ran right up to lava and locked eyes with it, unable to look away. There is a simple trick: Move to a cooler rock. Yes, there are cool rocks right next to the hot ones, they are typically the ones that don't look like there's a BBQ underneath them. Another trick for not dying: try to stay upwind of the lava. Death tends to occur when one is standing near the lava, it begins to rain, and POOF! a beautiful hot cloud of sulfurous death envelopes you! Now that's what I call fun. Certainly someone has died trying to cook a hot dog over the stuff. Some people deserve it, hot dogs are bad news. Be sure to have fresh batteries in your headlamp, the hike back to your bike will take longer since you're not racing towards sexy magma in the daylight, you're stumbling around in the dark and giggling. Stretch had already closed up by the time we got back, but we ran into him the next day and he was thankful we put the bikes away under the tarp. What a guy. Thank you Stretch. Thank you Pele.

road biking
3 months ago

Made this hike in September 2017.

Wow! Amazing! We biked to see the lava flow into the ocean. Be sure you lock your bike and hike inland to see the surface lava flow if possible! Dangerous but I you’ll never see something like this somewhere else...

We hiked (walked a gravel road) to the US Park boundary and then another 2 hours up towards the mountain and found a small area of lava. The lava fields are expansive and deceptive in size. 6 hours roundtrip with 20 min oooh and ahhh.

hiking
5 months ago

Rode bikes first segment in then hiked. Came back in total darkness. Lava field is amazing at sunset and the lava flows and cracks are amazing.

Trail is a wide dirt road, mostly flat. Better at sunset or dawn cause the flowing lava will be more noticeably. It took us 1,5h each way, 3h total. there is no shade in the way, I would recommend to do it on a cloudy day. There are bike rentals at the beginning of the trail that you can rent instead of walking.

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.

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome ancient history! Short hike but hot.

hiking
10 months ago

appreciated the historical significance

mountain biking
11 months ago

We were going to hike it but then decided to rent bikes for $10 each. Definitely the right choice. Don't think twice about this decision.

Interesting ride there in the light as you can see some houses being rebuilt into the lava flows. Coming back at night I felt like we were in an episode of amazing race with our head lamps and lights in the dark. Pretty fun but dusty.

The lava sighting itself was great and able to see the actual lava going into the ocean. Night sky was super clear as well and you can see the stars well.

mountain biking
11 months ago

There's a litany of bike renting options at the start of this trail. Most will fall within the realm of $15 for an unlimited time frame. If you're taking your time and gawking/taking pictures, I reckon it'd take around 45 minutes to get out to the lava viewing sight. Not a difficult bike ride but a welcomed exercise opportunity.

The entire ride was a great experience. You're constantly motivated by seeing the enormous smoke plume off into the distance, not to mention the smaller plumes emerging out of the volcano to your right as you head down the trail. There's a short lava rock walk to get to the lookout location but it's hardly worth mentioning in terms of exertion (just wear closed-toe shoes and be steady with your steps).

The 61g lava flow into the Pacific Ocean appears to be about 300 yards away from the observation point. There will be a large part of you that wishes you could be closer, but it's a magnificent event nonetheless. We couldn't see much aside from billowing smoke in the daytime but the show comes to life as night falls. Even if you only see a small orange stream from a distance, it'll often emit a glow reflecting off the smoke that creates quite a sight.

Most rented bikes come with some form of a flashlight. Ours was pretty small and almost appeared as though it was connected to the bike with hair ties (resourceful if true). We actually doubled down and brought our head lamps as well, which aided greatly with visibility upon our return. That said, you'll be riding on a straight and relatively smooth dirt road, so you shouldn't have much trouble making your way back one way or another.

As always, bring water, maybe a snack, and perhaps even a poncho or some sort of cover if you're concerned about precipitation (the only rain we encountered was brief, light, and refreshing).

road biking
Sunday, May 14, 2017

My husband and I went at 5 am trying to do it before the sun rise. It was raining like crazy that day so we waited out the rain. We probably started biking around sunrise and it takes a good 30 to of bike riding. The bike I rented was terrible, but it just added to the whole experience. What a cool morning . We walked past the ranger sign and towards the beach. We sat down and watched the lava going crazy. Just beware of the plume of smoke. Winds can shift quickly and you need to get out of the way. But even with the sun rising we saw the red lava... rock explosions into the ocean.... walked around and saw Pelle's hair. I highly recommend going to the Observatory before doing this hike if you are a first timer. Gave us a good education for our lava hikes.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Done this 3 times, with a 4th planned next month. You can rent a bike (there's hundreds of bikes at a dozen or so places), pay for a ride, or hike. I've hiked out every time. Plan a minimum of 4 hours if you hike it - time to get in and out, and time to ooh and ahh at the lava. It is well worth the hot, boring journey, I promise! If you have the energy, all the Rangers and go off the gravel road to wherever the breakouts are happening. You can get up and personal with the lava, it's spectacular. Best is to go in during daytime, watch the sunset, and walk out at night. Bring a flashlight (depending on the moon, you may not even need it, but still very good to have), good shoes (the gravel and lava eat shoes), and water water water! This is my absolute favorite hike, not because of the hike itself but because of the view at the end. I cannot recommend enough.

hiking
Sunday, April 23, 2017

You can no longer get close to the active crater. With signs posted everywhere to warn you not to go any further. It was still an amazing part of our 13mile hike, and wish that one day we can come back.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

excellent family hike

Friday, February 24, 2017

Amazing views. When your on the rim of the crater, you are so high up people appear as ants that are inside of the crater. Climbing back up was a bit of a challenge only because I was not use to such a humid environment. Very rewarding hike. Active steam vents within the crater were amazing.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The ocean entry lava viewing made this worth the trip. the bike ride is with a LOT of other people, especially if you do it at dusk as everyone left about the same time. nice setup though at the entrance and supports locals with the bike rentals. glad we did this side as opposed to entry though the park but it all depends on the lava...check on the lava status before deciding which way to go! both ways have park Rangers to help keep people safe but one way may save you a mile or two!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Just marvelous. You start at parking lot and drop down through verdant tropical forest for half hour, that then opens onto massive lava plain. The trail is marked by ahu (stone cairns), important to keep track of in foggy conditions. Pass by numerous massive rock formations, steam vents and plants reemerging from lava fissures. Take the side path half way across to see the reddish depression that looks like a cave. Sit and enjoy the quiet and breeze while you ponder the miracle of earth. The walk across the lava field is about 45 minutes with a rest, then climbs back up through the birdsong filled forest back to parking lot. We emerged by Thurston Lava Tube so saw that, too. Ten minute walk back down to our car. Just the best!! Moderate hike for experienced hikers, harder for newbies. Take water, hat, camera, snack bar for a rest break.

Monday, January 02, 2017

I loved this trail. So much history, tradition and culture on this trail. The petroglyphs were very neat, too! Good vibes on this trail

Monday, January 02, 2017

Great bike ride through old lava flow. Amazing views of lava flowing into the ocean.

walking
Friday, December 23, 2016

Did this in the morning in winter, a poncho was needed. Long trek, but totally worth it. Managed to do this with my parents (who are not outdoorsy people) and my mom only had a bit of trouble climbing down the dried lava flows.

hiking
Sunday, December 04, 2016

A total 8 mile hike to see lava meeting the ocean. The hike is on a gravel road with little elevation gain/loss. It takes a total of 3 hours at an easy pace to complete it. You can also rent bikes here which makes the journey quicker. The views along the route are of lava fields and ones you reach the end you will have to walk over the lava fields for 5 min to reach the viewpoint where you can see lava. This viewing spot is far away from the actual action but still has great views. If you want to get closer you need to take boat ride. It gets a bit chilly with the breeze at night in November.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Beautiful and quiet.

walking
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Very pretty and well maintained. Placards provide info on the flora. Saw pheasants up close that weren't spooked by our presence at all. Great for a low key stroll.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

It was to hot for us! But really neat to see the petroglyphs. Go early in day, not in summer. ☀️

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