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Hike a Classic Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Pay homage to the largest land builder in Hawaii—volcanoes! Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island (aka the Big Island), is nature’s demonstration of how volcanoes built the Hawaiian Islands over the last 70 million years.

Hiker going through the forest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hiker on the lava field trail at as part of the Kilauea Iki trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hiker on an ancient lava field at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Kilauea Iki trail

And the best hike to do in this beautiful national park? Go with the 3-mile (round-trip) classic Kilauea Iki loop for a forest-to-lava-lake adventure. The highlight? You get to walk across a once-molten lake of lava so vast and dramatic and interesting it’s almost as if you’re on another planet. Back in 1959 this volcano erupted, spewing lava 1,900 feet into the air! There are still steaming vents on the crater floor.

Hiker overlooking the lava field at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The hike starts in a rainforest on the crater rim (we recommend starting at Kilauea Iki Overlook and going counterclockwise). Enjoy the lush ancient ferns and ‘ohi‘a forest as you get bird’s-eye views into the crater and a few informational signs along the way detailing some of the history of the national park.

Then descend to the vast and totally unique lava bed, once a molten lake. Massive crevices to the walk, and sprigs of floral add color, including the beautiful and resilient lehua. There’s plenty of room as you cross this field … so much so that you may feel like you have the place all to yourself.

Hiker walking across the ancient lava bed in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Climb back out via the rainforest, and at the parking lot you can take a brief detour across the street to hike a 0.4-mile loop through Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube), a subterranean cave that was long ago formed by flowing lava.

Hiker heads into Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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