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Hawaii Volcanoes Celebrating Anniversary of Kahuku Expansion

July 31, 2013, 11:27 AM HST (Updated July 31, 2013, 11:29 AM) · 0 Comments
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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its acquisition of the Kahuku Unit with free hikes and programs in August and September.

The mauka portion of the former Kahuku Ranch – comprising 115,788 acres – was purchased in 2003 for $21.9 million, representing a 56% expansion of the park. Officials have described it as the biggest land acquisition in Hawaii’s history.

Located in one of Mauna Loa’s most active rift zones, the unit contains a variety of natural, cultural and geological resources.

All of the activities are accessed by entering Kahuku on the mauka side of Highway 11 near mile-marker 70.5. Participants are to meet near the parking area and should come with sturdy footwear, water, raingear and a snack.

No advance registration for the activities is required.

They include:

  • Ohi`a Lehua – learn about the vital role of ohi`a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the ohi`a tree, and the lehua flower. Visitors traveling through the park will be able to identify the many differences of the most prominent tree in the Kahuku Unit. Packing a lunch is recommended for the program scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 18, and Sept. 28.
  • Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone – a short, guided hike to an overlook located on the Upper Palm Trail. From the overlook, park rangers will orient visitors to numerous prominent geologic features of the many eruptions of the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. Learn about the natural processes that create these features and the cultural traditions associated with them. Pack a lunch to enjoy during the program. The program is offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 10 and Sept. 15.
  • Palm Trail – a moderately difficult 2.6-mile loop traverses scenic pasture along an ancient cinder cone, with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. Highlights include relics of the ranching era, sections of remnant native forest and amazing volcanic features from the 1868 eruptive fissures. The guided hike is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 17 and Sept. 29.
  • People and Lands of Kahuku – a moderate two-mile, three-hour guided hike that loops through varied landscapes to explore the human history of Kahuku. Emerging native forests, pastures, lava fields, and other sites hold clues about ways people have lived and worked on the vast Kahuku lands from the earliest Hawaiians, through generations of ranching families, to the current staff and volunteers of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The guided hike is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 24, Sept. 14 and Sept. 22.

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The Palm Trail hike will showcase the 1868 lava flow in the Kahuku Unit of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS.The Palm Trail hike will showcase the 1868 lava flow in the Kahuku Unit of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS.

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