Jan 27

Kilauea Iki Trail – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Overlooking Kilauea Iki Crater Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is very unique place considering that it is the home of two active volcanoes.  Kilauea which is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, unfortunately the lava flow was underground while we were there.  It changes from time to time and sometimes it is flowing into the sea, which is what we were hoping for but it was not meant to be.  The other volcano that is in park is Mauna Loa which is the world’s largest volcano.  Despite the fact that we did not get to see any lava flowing down into the ocean Karen and I had a wonderful time at the park.  One of the reasons that we enjoyed this park so much was the great hike we had on the Kilauea Iki Trail.
Crater Overlook

The Kilauea Iki Trail is a four mile loop trail that will take you through a rainforest that overlooks the crater down some switchbacks to the crater floor.  It then continues across the crater floor which is pretty amazing knowing that this used to be a lake of lava to another series of switchbacks and back to the lip of the crater.  The hike goes through just about every aspect of Hawaiian terrain from native rainforests to hardened lava that is just starting to spring forth life.   It is an amazing trail and a must do if you are in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Ferns Overhead

Our favorite part of the trail was hiking through rain forest.  There Karen and I saw a variety of birds and way too many mosquitoes, bug repellent is a must for your hike or just about every hike in Hawaii.  It was awe-inspiring seeing the lushness of the forest and looking through the ferns at the crater far below.
Karen at overlook

In the rainforest area Karen and I came across a Kalij Pheasant which is not a Native Hawaiian bird but a game bird that was introduced to the islands.  We had never seen one before and almost missed it but we heard a rustling sound in nearby tree and we went towards it to investigate.  Karen and I were shocked to see a very plump bird having the time of its life going from branch to branch gulping down red berries.  We took a break there from our hike and watched it a little bit and had our own little snack and got back on the trail.
Kalij Pheasant

At the end of the rainforest section we moved through a series of rocky “lava” switchbacks that was a little rough going down, but certainly doable.  I would say that this was the roughest part of the trail and anybody that has bad knees might have a problem with this section of the trail.  Once past the switchbacks Karen and I had made it to the Kilauea Iki crater floor.
Kilauea Iki Crater

Once on the crater floor the trail is not really marked, but there is a slightly darker line that extends all the way across the crater.  Walking across the crater is a somewhat eerie but gives an inspiring feeling knowing that the ground could be younger than your or your parents or in some cases grandparents.  It is amazing seeing tiny plants and small trees or bushes starting to grow in the barren landscape and that someday if future volcanoes do not refill the Kilauea Iki crater with lava that eventually the crater will turn into a rainforest.

The trail leads back to the north rim of the crater and more overlooks.  Within a half mile Karen and I were back to our starting point and heading back to where we parked our rental car.  We highly recommend that you bring plenty of water and maybe some granola or energy bars for your hike.  You should also take with you some insect repellent for when you are walking through the rainforest sections.  Also make sure that you are using good hiking shoes or at a minimum closed toe shoes because lava can be very sharp and getting your toes or foot cut would cut your hike short real quick. It was a wonderful hike and probably the highlight of our time at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
In the Crater

For more information about the park visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm
Walking the Crater

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1 comment

  1. freda phillips

    Very interesting. I loved looking at this post.

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