Kilauea Iki Trail | Volcanoes National Park | Hawaii (Big Island) Website: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/hike_day_kilaueaiki.htm Know Before You Go: Take plenty of water and plenty of sunblock. This was a hot hike and it’s short on shade in many spots. We found that, as Midwesterners, we burn faster in spots like Hawaii that are closer to the equator. Bug spray is also a good idea because we did find mosquitoes in the rain forest portions. Parking can fill up fast so it’s best to arrive at the park before 9 a.m. Be careful around the edges of the trail as they can be slippery. Sometimes the trail is tough to see on the ground so park staff has built ahu (stacked rocks) to mark the trails. Length: 5.3-mile loop from Kilauea Visitor Center. Time: 3-4 hours. Difficulty: Moderate to challenging - the ascent from the caldera floor is 400 feet. Terrain: Rocky, some dirt. This can be slick in the rain. Dog-friendly: No. Dogs are only allowed in certain parking lots and roads in the park, not on trails. Kid-friendly: Yes, but watch the kiddos near the edges of the cliffs and near the fissures and cracks in the earth.
This trail walks you through lush rainforest down the edge of the Kilauea Iki crater created during the 1959 eruption. The heat and humidity combine with the steep drops and ascents to make this a challenging hike.
When you leave the rain forest and descent into the crater, it’s like stepping onto the moon. The landscape becomes rocky and desolate - and fascinating! - as you see the shapes left behind by a lake of lava back in 1959. The eruption lasted 36 days and is considered by some to be the most spectacular eruption event of the 20th century.
After ascending almost 400 feet back to the overlook, you are treated to breathtaking views of the crater below. We connected with this trail from the Crater Rim trail, and on the east side we detoured to the Thurston Lava Tube, which allows you to walk through the volcano and see the world lava created. Parking is in very short supply at the Lava Tube so it was a great way to see where a river of lava flowed 500 years ago.
Of all the hikes we did in Hawaii, we found those at Volcanoes National Park to be the most incredible - partially because you only need to walk another half mile and the landscape changes. We chose to do several short hikes instead of one long one so we could see more of the park. We saw a range of sulfur banks, steam vents, lava deposits and rain forest. This park was a gorgeous sampler platter of natural wonders that you can only access in Hawaii.