Crater Rim trail at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Crater Rim trail at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Description

The Crater Rim Trail is a great way to get in a hike or some peace and quiet along the rim of the famed Kilauea Caldera, located within the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. A portion of the trail is closed due to its proximity to the sulphur dioxide gas coming from the Halema'uma'u Crater, however the remaining open section has  great hiking and is even has some paved portions.

Highlights: This hike walks the rim of the Kilauea's smoldering summit caldera. It is paved for a long stretch between Volcano House and the Jagger Museum where the Halema'uma'u Crater gas eruption is visible.  
Options: Several access points along the West Rim give good parking and more remote viewing of the Crater and access to the trail.
Elevation of 4,000 feet, so it can be chilly. Bring a windbreaker or outer layer
Hazards!: There are many health and safety concerns at the park. Fumes from the ongoing eruptions are at times noxious and rich in sulfur dioxide gas so be aware of wind direction and fumes if choosing to view the active regions of the park.
Sturdy closed-toe footwear will best protect you if you are planning to walk and explore the trails into the lava. Beware the lava rock can be jagged and sharp edged easily cutting into exposed areas of the body.
Fee: $10 per car entry, receipt good for 7 days re-entry.

This trail was designed as a circuit around the crater circling the entire Kilauea Caldera at 11 miles in length. Due to a gas eruption begun in 2008 a large portion of the trail has been closed to the public due to noxious fumes. The portion of the trail that remains open is upwind from the eruption site and is a great way to get out of the car and enjoy a jog, hike or short walk to get to breathtaking vantage points of this marvelous natural wonder.  The landscape is wide and panoramic offering views of the caldera, native plants pioneering the landscape, towering Mauno Loa mountain in the distance and the billowing steam coming put of the natural steam vents.

The Crater Rim Trail offers several options for those seeking a shorter hike.
Trail Section One-Way Mileage:
From Kilauea Iki Parking lot to Volcano House =1.4 miles
From Jagger Museum to Volcano House =2.2 miles
From Steam vents to Jagger Museum = 1.2 miles

Daytime versus Nighttime:

The park is warmest and gives you the easiest exploration opportunities in the light of day versus nighttime. The Crater Rim Trail gets lots of wind, and at night it can be very chilly. The only bonus to nighttime visiting is seeing the distant glow of the illuminated orange plumes of smoke rising from the eruption site. The most dramatic "glow show" is during the transitions of sunrise or sunset, so if you have seeing the glow in mind plan accordingly.

Local's tips:
- Park at either the Kilauea look out or Steam Vents parking areas and you will find yourself in the middle of the western rim of the caldera. From here you can explore the trail in each direction and see some of the more remote viewing areas.
-After the hike. Those seeking a bite on a budget, try the restaurant or bowling alley snack bar at the  "Kilauea Military Camp" on the road to the "Jagger Museum". The camp is for military personnel but the food is accessible to all.

Contacts:
Phone: (808) 985-6000
Website: http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm
Downloadable pdf park planning guide: http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/05-2011-explore-web.pdf

Directions: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is located on the "Big Island" of Hawaii

  • From Hilo: travel 28 miles via HI-route 11 driving southwest for 45 minutes. Look for the signs for "Hawaii Volcanoes National Park" just past the 28-mile marker. Entrance will follow on the left.
  • From Kailua-Kona: travel 96 miles southeast on Highway 11 (2 to 2 1/2 hour drive), or 125 miles through Waimea and Hilo via highways 19 and 11 (2 1/2 to 3 hours). Approaching mile markers 32 through 29 follow signs for "Hawaii Volcanoes National Park" looking for right turn mile after mile marker 29 if heading from Kona via 11.

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