Tag Archives: Hiking

Halema’uma’u Trail

The trail winds down through woods and abundant vegetation.
Steps lead down from the mossy pass featured in a previous post.

Recently, I posted a couple of photos (here) of a section of the Halema’uma’u Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I thought I’d follow up with a few more photos of the trail, which runs from near the visitor center down to the edge of the summit caldera of Kilauea Volcano.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

The trail suddenly emerges at the edge of the summit caldera of Kilauea Volcano. In the morning, the bench is a shady spot to take in the view.
Halema’uma’u Trail carries on across the caldera, marked by cairns, but this section has been closed since 2008, when the Halema’uma’u Crater vent became active. These days it would lead straight into the depths of the greatly enlarged Halema’uma’u Crater.

Signs: Yes, but…

Back in June, I went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to do a little hiking. The park had recently reopened and I thought it would be a good time to do some of the popular trails near the summit that are usually crowded. I was right about this because I saw hardly anyone all day.

One of the trails I hiked was the Byron Ledge Trail and when I got to a junction near the end of it I came across this sign. I knew the park had made the popular Kilauea Iki Trail one way, but I hadn’t known about it applying to any other trails.

As you might have guessed, I arrived at this spot from the pointy end of the arrow. I’d hiked the trail in the wrong direction. The problem was that there was nothing at the other end of the trail letting me know I shouldn’t enter. When I hiked Kilauea Iki later, it was the same: at the parking lot there was a sign saying hike this way, but nothing at the other entrances to the trail.

On my way out of the park I stopped at the entrance and mentioned this to the ranger on duty. When I returned to the park in August, I asked the ranger at the entrance if they were still doing one way traffic on some of the trails. She said they weren’t. I wasn’t surprised. To do it properly, it would require a lot of signage and, with the Visitor Center closed, it would be hard to get the message across to everyone who visits the park.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Mossy path on the Halemaumau Trail

The Halemaumau Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park takes hikers from near the visitor center down to the floor of the summit crater of Kilauea Volcano. It mostly passes through trees and some lush tropical foliage, this being the wet side of the island. Part of the way down the trail eases through a channel between two walls of rock, which are covered in moss. It’s a quite beautiful passage and, in this harsh volcanic area, has a remarkably soft feeling to it.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Pluchea carolinensis

Pluchea carolinensis is also known as sourbush and cure-for-all. This latter name probably comes from its medicinal use in its native range, which is the tropical Americas. It’s a member of the aster family – Asteraceae.

The plant was first reported in Hawaii in 1931 and on the Big Island in 1933. It’s believed to be an accidental introduction, possibly associated with shipping to Hawaii and within the islands. The onset of World War II prompted the plant’s spread through the Pacific, probably in military shipments.

On the Big Island it’s most often seen in drier coastal areas, but it can tolerate a variety of climates and conditions. These photos were taken on the Puna Coast Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Sulphur Banks Trail

One of the trails I took on my last visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the Sulphur Banks Trail, otherwise known as Ha’akulamanu Trail. It’s not far from the visitor center and so is usually popular with visitors because it’s an easy walk, about 1.2 miles roundtrip, and pretty level the whole way. But with few visitors around currently, I had the trail to myself.

This trail is one of several areas in the park where signs of volcanic heat can be seen even when there’s not an active eruption. Steam swirls upwards. The smell of rotten eggs indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide in the air, one of the volcanic gases leaking from the ground along with sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide.

The yellow tint of the ground is due to the sulphurous gases and close examination reveals the sulphur crystals that have been deposited there. The crystals photo was taken at one of the displays along the trail. It wouldn’t be wise to thrust one’s camera too close to one of the active vents, such as those in the bottom photo.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘Close Examination.’ See more responses here.

Kilauea trails

Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently opened up more areas of the park that had been closed because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. I thought this was a good opportunity to hike some of the summit trails that I usually avoid because they’re more accessible and popular with tourists. I put together a loop hike that would have been great had all the trails listed as open actually been open.

Despite this glitch, I had a good time and enjoyed the variety of landscapes the park has to offer. The top photo shows the part of the Kilauea Iki Trail that traverses that crater. The crater floor is a little under a mile across. This crater used to be much deeper before an eruption in 1959 filled it up another 400 feet. There is some vegetation, but the crater floor is mostly bare lava and steam can often be seen rising in various places.

The middle photo was taken on the Halema‛uma‛u Trail, which winds down from the summit into Halema‛uma‛u Crater. Despite the trail’s proximity to the vent in the crater, which was active until May 2018, vegetation thrives here as it does on many trails in the park.

The bottom photo shows a section of active steam vents alongside the Crater Rim Trail. This section of the trail is paved because the area normally sees very heavy use. When I was there, it was mostly deserted because of the lack of tourists on the island. The buildings on the horizon are the Volcano House Hotel which recently reopened for business, though the restaurant is still closed.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/. For more information about Volcano House Hotel, go to hawaiivolcanohouse.com/.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Amaumau fern

The amaumau fern (Sadleria cyatheoides) is endemic to Hawaii and grows in a variety of areas from wet forests to recent lava flows. I saw these on the Powerline Trail, off of Saddle Road, where the elevation is above 5,000 feet.

These ferns are quite common, but on this day, the color of the new growth really caught my eye. New fiddles are orange to red, changing to green with age. In these photos, the various stages of growth can be seen. These ferns were low growing, but they can also take the form of a tree fern with an upright, trunk-like appearance.

Pu’u Wa’awa’a bench

One of the nice things about the hike up Pu’u Wa’awa’a is the selection of benches available for rest and contemplation, on the way up and at the top. This bench sits halfway up the steep slope that accesses the top of the hill. It gives a good view of Mauna Loa and the pastures on and around Pu’u Wa’awa’a. If you’re lucky, you might even see a dung beetle or three doing what they do.