THURSTON LAVA TUBE TRAIL | VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
Thurston Lava Tube Trail (Nahuku) | Volcanoes National Park | Hawaii (Big Island) Website: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/day-hike-nahuku.htm Know Before You Go: The lava tube is very dark and contains tripping hazards, standing water, low ceilings and rockfall. Length: 1.5 mile round trip from Kilauea Iki Overlook. Time: 30 minutes. Difficulty: Easy. Terrain: Paved in parts. Slick rock in other parts. Dog-friendly: No. Dogs are only allowed in certain parking lots and roads in the park, not on trails. Kid-friendly: Yes, but keep a close eye on the kiddos, especially inside the tube.
This trail takes you through a verdant rain forest to a 500-year-old lava tube where a river of lava once flowed. The inside of the tunnel is lit from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily but is still quite dark to walk through. It’s a relatively easy hike, but can be dangerous due to a myriad of tripping hazards, including low ceilings, rockfall, and standing water that makes the rock trail quite slick in places.
This is one of the few trails that takes you through a volcano. Lava tubes are formed when the supply of lava stops at the end of an eruption or is diverted elsewhere, leaving behind an empty cave.
These caves have great cultural significance for Native Hawaiians because they could be used for shelter, food storage and water sources. Some were used in ceremonies and burials, with relatives leaving behind wrapped bones of important individuals.
The Thurston Lava Tube can be accessed from several trailheads, including the Thurston Lava Tube parking area, but this parking is extremely limited. You an also hike from the Devastation Trailhead, which adds over 5 miles of distance but takes you through the gorgeous Kilauea Iki Overlook.
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.