Kalapana Lava Viewing Hike

EASY 50 reviews

Kalapana Lava Viewing Hike is a 9.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Kalapana, Hawaii that features hot springs and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
9.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
646 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

off road driving

road biking

walking

hot springs

rails trails

views

bugs

rocky

no dogs

A 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 made of lava rock for 5 min to reach the lava viewing area. This viewing spot is far away from the actual action but is still a great lava viewing site. If you want to get closer that this viewing area, you need to take boat ride. It gets a bit chilly with the breeze at night in November. Better at sunset or dawn cause the flowing hot lava will be more noticeably. There is little shade along this lava hike, so plan accordingly.

19 days ago

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!

1 month ago

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
1 month ago

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...

hiking
1 month ago

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
3 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.

4 months ago

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.

mountain biking
9 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
9 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
11 months ago

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.

11 months ago

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.

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!

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.

hiking
19 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

recorded lava

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

road biking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

hiking
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hiking
7 months ago

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