End of Chain of Craters Road Trail to Lava Viewing

HARD 42 reviews

End of Chain of Craters Road Trail to Lava Viewing is a 10.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Pahoa, Hawaii that features a cave and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
10.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
429 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

beach

cave

views

rocky

no dogs

The hike begins on a paved portion of Chain of Craters Road that is inaccessible to vehicles. Look for outstanding views of cliffs and windswept coast. In April 2003, lava flows covered the road. From the pavements end, and when lava flows are in the area, longer trails across rough rock may lead to better views of the lava or steam. After sunset, distant views of red lava or steam clouds are sometimes possible. Great star gazing on clear nights. Prepare for hot, windy, and rainy weather. Bring water and food. Flashlights are essential after dark for each person. Volcanic fumes are often present in this part of the park. From the ranger station, the road continues as a pedestrian walkway accessible to wheelchairs and strollers to the point where lava flowed over the road. From there, you must hike over the old lava flow by foot.

hiking
35 minutes ago

It is like nothing else you will ever do. You will be hiking on old lava flows and come across an opening where you can see the old road and a stop sign. Other times you will see the glowing lava beneath coming up through the cracks over which you are walking. Once you get to the end you see lava tubes pouring out from the side of the cliff into the ocean creating a lake of lava that is constantly battling with the incoming surf for where the land ends and the ocean begins. It is a sight you can never forget.

Also try to be aware of your surroundings. The park service will have light beacons every mile to help keep you on course, but when the terrain is uneven the next beacon might not be immediately visible. When we hiked out there, on the way back we saw a flashlight off in the distance start waving at us. It was a guy that had become disoriented in the dark and was wandering for about an hour trying to find his way back. There are other instances where people have been lost for days. Be careful on this trail because the ways you could get injured or die are different from other hikes. There aren't many other trails where you could fall through an active lava tube and instantly perish.

7 months ago

Very long walk to lava viewing and hard to get back in the dark. Would rent a bike if doing it again.

hiking
8 months ago

To reach the active lava flows (as of Jan 2018), this hike consists of about a half mile paved walk, four miles of gravel along the coast, and about 2 miles over very uneven lava flows - each way. It is a very, very windy and dry hike. Bring lots of water - more than you think you will need. It took us about 5-6 hours to do the round trip hike, but witnessing the active lava was worth the trip.

As you get farther out, the lava flows are just beautiful. They are sparkly and iridescent. We also saw Pepe’s hair in one spot. When reaching the active flow, it is very hot and sulfur smelling.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

This trail is long (10 miles) and very hot!
Bring tons if water !!! It's very beautiful!!

hiking
Monday, March 27, 2017

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).

hiking
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

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!

hiking
Wednesday, January 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. The recent bench collapse changed the access. The terrain changes though, so you might get lucky. Either way, 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.***

hiking
Monday, December 26, 2016

This hike is best at sunset. Be prepared to walk 4 miles on a gravel road and then one mile on lava. 10 miles all together. The lava is worth seeing and the walk there is beautiful.

hiking
Monday, August 15, 2016

Did this hike at night and while it was fairly flat it has small rocks that roll under your feet. This was a long hike to the lava flow but was beautiful and worth seeing at night!!

hiking
Friday, August 12, 2016

Nice place, lots of people, but an easy hike, parking could be an issue for you

hiking
Thursday, April 28, 2016

Really neat place to visit. If its the right one, its literally on the side of the highway. We stopped right by a lava cave. We were able to climb down and through it. The deeper in the cave the darker it was until the very end, where there was another opening.

hiking
Thursday, February 05, 2015

Very cool area, and observing the flows was unreal. Terrible crowds though.

hiking
Thursday, January 22, 2015

Take some time to read the signs along the way that talk about all the plant life you may see. I found it very interesting. And of course you have to take the picture by the mostly buried "Road Closed" sign. I agree, don't wear flip flops. Sturdy shoes everywhere in Volcano National Park are strongly recommended.

Also, take some time as you drive down and back to stop at the scenic points and look. There are a lot of craters worth seeing along the way, some with their own trails.

walking
Sunday, January 11, 2015

Don't wear flip flops!

4 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

backpacking
Sunday, March 26, 2017

hiking
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

hiking
Thursday, March 02, 2017

hiking
Friday, January 13, 2017

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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