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End of Chain of Craters Road to Active Lava Flow [CLOSED]

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

End of Chain of Craters Road to Active Lava Flow [CLOSED] is a 6.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kalapana, Hawaii, Hawaii that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Length 6.8 mi Elevation gain 1,630 ft Route type Out & Back

Hiking

Nature trips

Views

Rocky

Closed

No shade

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. The trail starts at the official "End of Trail" sign at the End of Chain of Craters Road in Volcanoes National Park. This is the only legal and authorized route to take to see active lava flows and new land formation. This is the continuation of the end of the Chain of Craters Road across open lava fields. The hiking is difficult; the terrain is uneven with brittle areas of lava, wide cracks and partially collapsed lava tubes. Remember, lava is as sharp as broken glass. Wear proper hiking boots, bring plenty of water (double your usual needs) since it is hot and sun-exposed. Be sure to pack flashlights and head lamps if you think you may stay past sunset.

There is parking at the end of the Chain of Craters Road. Marked areas for buses and disability parking only spots. There are toilets in the visitors area and a small canteen. This is the only spot you are going to be able to grab some extra bottles of water if you think you might need extras.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park P.O. Box 52 Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052 By Phone: Visitor Information (808) 985-6000 At the Jagger Museum I spoke with Arnold Nakata who is a ranger and Native Hawaiian. He gave us all the information that we could have asked for

Enter the Volcanoes National Park and turn left almost immediately past the entrance gates following the Chain of Craters Road. Continue to the very end of the road where you will see instructions for parallel parking along the street. These are the last toilets you will see for the next 6-8 hours as well. Follow the road on foot from the parking area at the end of Chain of Craters Road. This is where the visitors go as it is still paved road for 1 mile to where the lava flow crosses over. I would say 50% of the visitors turn back at this point due to change in terrain. Follow the reflector trail markers until you come to the "end of the trail" sign, and then continue to the warning sign. This is here for liability reasons and is not a DO NOT ENTER area, access is completely allowed and encouraged. At this point, the remaining 49% turn back. For the real adventure, continue on to the first GPS marker (white PVC post with a flashing light attached to the top) which is marked "0". There are 7 of these along the trail and serve as signal posts in the dark to help direct hikers back to the parking area. Follow to the GPS marker #5, and then veer left at the 10 o'clock position towards the plume. After 1 to 1-1/2 hours, start to look for thermal heat waves rising from areas, this is a good indication of lava flows. When it comes to hiking on lava "REMEMBER SILVER IS HOT, BLACK IS NOT". The active flows are slow moving, heading towards the ocean entry steam plumes. You will feel heat, see glowing lava in the cracks, hear "popping" sounds from cooling lava, see steam from cracks, sulfur deposits and smell the sulfur in the air. Once you find open and flowing lava it is common courtesy to give a gift to Pele for the show. Be cautious; keep an eye out for flowing and creeping lava all around you. Remember the closest flow might be right behind you. Trust me, you will feel the heat from the lava and know where it is.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (22)
Photos (20)
Recordings (15)
Completed (77)
Brent Duddles
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Hiking

We parked on the west end and biked along the trail almost to the end, before getting off our bikes and hiking across the lava field. Biking was fun, but kind of stressful on semi-road bike tires as the road was loose gravel. Hiking was super unique over pahoehoe lava. I wore tennis shoes and ended up with a cut on the back of my calf from a portion of lava that broke off and cut me. Flashlights are a must for the hike back in the dark (you want to see the lava in the dark right?). Also I'd highly recommend a GPS or some sort of light beacon as walking through the pahoehoe lava field in the dark is very directionally disorienting. We had a beacon on the bikes AND a GPS, in the end the GPS helped the most. We left Kona around 3:30pm and go to the lava flow right around 7:45. Be prepared for challenging navigation through the lava field as it has many ridges and valleys. Lava was flowing crazy well when we went, I stood within 3 feet of a large flow for moment.

Kevin Kucharski
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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!

Lori W
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Hiking

Got to witness new earth being created. Stood 10 feet from the lava flow. We left out about 3:30 and stayed long enough for night viewing of the lava. Once it's gets dark the vents underneath your feet light up red when your near the active flow. You feel like your sneakers are going to melt. To go from the east take 130 to the end. From there you can rent a bicycle...highly recommend an electric bike for the 4 miles out on the cinder road. Once from 4 miles out, chain your bike and hoof it another 3 miles through the lava fields towards the hills. You'll find flowing flowing lava there. The hike back in the dark is extremely difficult... navigating through lava field and ankle breaking vents is treacherous. Bring sweatshirt, rain poncho, lots of water, a snack, gloves (lava splinters suck) and a headlamp with extra batteries. Have fun!! It's a stunning thing to see.

Amanda Hudson
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In all, this was about a twelve-mile hike and lasted us almost six hours. Unfortunately, we didn't see any lava but it was still a worthwhile hike. Make sure you take plenty of water (3 quarts per person) and snacks.

RM Cal
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 25, 2017

To get to the steam plume you can either bike or walk from the east or hike in from the west. We hiked in from the west. Great hike to the steam plume. Not technical at all, but bring plenty of water. It may be raining and cool on top of the ridge, but sunny and hot on the road. The road/trail is cinder all the way in, with a porta-potty about halfway through. It's about 4 miles in on the road, then you'll hit the NPS roadblock. It's then about a mile over lava field to reach the vent. As of JAN 17, you won't be able to see any lava - either going into the ocean or surface. But you'll see a lot of sulfur vents and be standing right over the lava tube. Check with your wife before exploring. AMAZING ocean and lava views all the way in. HIGHLY recommend the hike. Make a reservation at The Rim, for a phenomenal post-hike dinner! ***Wife's Tip Corner: You can do this trail in anything... technically. But highly recommend sturdy shoes, bandana for the vog, and work gloves as some of the lava is very sharp (my husband took his gloves off for a second and got a lava splinter). Ladies - your man might believe he is a volcanologist and go "exploring" over lava vents. I turned my back for one minute and off he went. Recommend a bell or little kid leash.***

Dave Nance
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarDecember 29, 2015

Nice drive but ran into government keep out signs half way down dirt road. Not feeling it, we turned around.

Mike Stevens
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 1, 2013
Hiking

I was the one to submit the trail description and location details. All that I have to say is all in there. For those who take on this hike, enjoy the adventure.

Tim Lillyquist
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 19, 2007
HikingOff trailRocky
First to Review

Highly recommend doing this hike at night. The lava flow is more spectacular when it's dark. Very hot hike any time of day - bring 3-4 liters of water minimum. A flashlight is fine but headlamps are much more convenient and the replacement batteries are smaller and lighter. We saw several people on the hike who where cut up pretty badly - the lava rock is insanely sharp. Be careful where you sit and where you place your hands and feet. It's also a good idea to carry a small first-aid kit. Hiking to an active lava flow is an experience of a lifetime. One of the most memorable hikes I've ever done. If you're on the Big Island, do not pass up the opportunity to do this amazing hike.

Sean L.
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Hiking
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Scott Mercer
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Hiking
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Jessie McDonald
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Hiking
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Bo Fort
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Hiking
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Sara Smith
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Tim Johnson
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Hiking
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Brendan Leahy
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Hiking
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Caroline Morse
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Hiking
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Valerie Long
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Hiking
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Dan Pillasch
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Nate Lore
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Kate Ruffini
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Xiaomin Li
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Hiking
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Drew Stanley
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Hiking