A list of favorite trails to hike in Volcanoes National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is truly a remarkable place. Here you can experience the majesty of Hawaii’s open landscape and witness – first-hand – the power of mother nature. As such, it’s the perfect spot to spend time outdoors hiking and exploring. If you’re planning to hike in the park on your next visit, here’s our guide for the best trails to explore while you’re here.
Kilauea Iki Trail:
Kilauea Iki trail starts in the rainforest on the crater’s rim. It descends 400 feet through heavily wooded areas to the crater floor. On this trail, you’ll spot native birds in the canopy overhead, cross the still-steaming crater floor (past the gaping throat of the vent that built Pu’u Pua’i cinder cone) and return to the trailhead at the crater’s rim. This 4-mile loop takes the average hiker about 2 or 3 hours to complete.
Halema’uma’u Crater Trail:
The easiest way to access Halema’uma’u Trail is from the Kilauea Visitor Center. Here, you’ll begin your trek through the lush rainforest. You’ll walk through beautiful ferns, Ohia trees, and along the edge of Kilauea Caldera where you’ll hear beautiful Hawaiian songbirds. Eventually, you’ll walk onto the crater floor and be eye level with Halema’uma’u. Continue along the trail and connect with either Kilauea Iki Trail or Byron’s Ledge Trail. If you add Kilauea Iki to your hike, you’ll travel around 6 miles and it should take about 3 hours to complete.
Take a quick look at the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption Pu’u Pua’i cinder cone from a different perspective. On a clear day, this is a great location to view the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. This trail is around 1 mile or you can continue on towards Byron Ledge Trail. See Bryon’s Ledge Trail for more information.
Byron Ledge Trail:
Byron Ledge Trails descends from Devastation Trail back into the rainforest along Kilauea Caldera. This trail offers great views of Halema’uma’u crater and the eruption site. From here, continue on towards Halema’uma’u Crater Trail. Taking Halema’uma’u Trail will add a total of 3.6 miles on to your hike.
Kipukapuauli (Bird Park):
This small area of old forest surrounded by younger lava flow (called a kipuka) is located just off Mauna Loa Strip Road. It’s a great place to take a short walk, especially if you enjoy learning about local plants and birds. The site features interpretative signs that describe the local flora and fauna as well as their significance in the forest. Because there are a lot of native plants, you’ll also see plenty of native birds including Apapane, Amakihi, Omao, and Elepaio. Kipukapuauli is a small incline and loop trail that’s about 1 mile.
Mauna Iki Trail:
Hike Mauna Iki Trail to get up close and personal with a piece of Hawaiian history – Ancient Footprints. This easy 2-mile roundtrip hike offers beautiful views of Mauna Loa and some interesting geological structures. Prepare with sunscreen and bring plenty of water as you’ll be hiking on a lava desert the whole time. Geologist and archeologist are still trying to determine how footprints the footprints came to be. However, it is said that soldiers were resting near this area when Kilauea erupted with a huge ash cloud. Most of the soldiers died, but some were able to run away, leaving their footprints in the lava.
Crater Rim Trail: Thurston Lava Tube
Crater Rim Trail circles the rim of Kilauea Caldera, but most of the trail can be hiked in smaller segments. A local favorite is Thurston Lava Tube. Hike the tube and take the Escape Road to Crater Rim Trail to Keanakako’i Crater. This is a 6-mile round trip walk that is hardly hiked. Plus, it’s one of the prettiest parts of the trail. You’ll see beautiful tree ferns and native birds. Once you cross Chain of Craters Road, you’ll enter a beautiful Koa wood forest with Ohelo berries. Then, you’ll emerge onto a lava field with amazing lava tree molds, arches, and other unique lava shapes. The most popular section of Crater Rim Trail stretches from Volcano House to Thurston Lava Tube. This doesn’t loop around unless you take some of the other trails listed above. One-way the trip is around 2 miles.
Now that you know exactly where to hike in Volcanoes National Park, join us! At Kilauea Hospitality Group, we offer three accommodation options in the heart of Volcano Village. Nestled just 3 short miles from Volcanoes National Park, we’re at the center of it all. To learn more about our accommodation options, visit our Properties & Rooms page. You can also visit our Activities page to learn about fun things to do once you’re here.