Explore Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park 

January 13, 2018, 5:30 AM HST
* Updated January 12, 10:19 AM
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Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Kahuku Unit, 1868 lava flow. PC: NPS

Everyone is invited to participate in the free guided hikes, “Coffee Talks” and ‘Ike Hana No‘eau Hawaiian cultural programs in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park now through March 2018.

Visitors can also explore Kahuku on their own on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. The Kahuku Unit is located in Ka‘ū, and is about a 50-minute drive south of the park’s main entrance. Sturdy footwear, water, raingear, sun protection and a snack are recommended for all hikes. Entrance and all programs are free.

Birth of Kahuku: Explore the rich geologic history of Kahuku. Traverse the vast 1868 lava flow, see different volcano features and formations, and identify many parts of the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. Learn about the Hawaiian hotspot and the creation of Kahuku. This guided easy-to-moderate hike is offered Jan. 13, Feb. 10 and March 24 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Ranger Noah Gomes explains the importance of ‘ōhi‘a lehua in native forests. PC: NPS/Sierra McDaniel

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua: Learn about the vital role of ‘ōhi‘a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the ‘ōhi‘a tree, and the threat of a new fungal disease, Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. Visitors will be able to identify the many differences of the most prominent native tree in Kahuku on this program, which is an easy, one-mile (or less) walk. The ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua program is offered Jan. 14 and Feb. 11 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.


‘Ike Hana No‘eau (Experience the Skillful Work): Enjoy Hawaiian cultural demonstrations at Kahuku on the third Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 16. Programs are free.


Realms and Divisions of Kahuku: Experience the sense of place that evolves at the intersection of nature and culture on this moderately difficult two-mile, two-hour guided hike on the Kahuku Unit’s newest trail, Pu‘u Kahuku. Explore the realms and divisions of the traditional Hawaiian classification system at Kahuku. Bring a snack for the “talk story” segment of this hike. Offered Jan. 20, Feb. 24 and March 10 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

NPS Volunteer Ruth Levin leads the People & Land of Kahuku hike.
PC: NPS/Janice Wei

People and Land of Kahuku is 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 Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Learn about the powerful natural forces at work here and how people have adapted to, shaped, and restored this land. The guided hike is offered Jan. 21, Feb. 18 and March 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Get to know your park and your neighbors and join an informal “Coffee Talk” conversation on a wide variety of topics at Kahuku the last Friday of most months. Ka‘ū coffee, tea and pastries will be available for purchase. Coffee Talks are offered free on Jan. 26, Feb. 23 and March 30 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Park Ranger Jessica leads a family on a hike to the top of Pu‘u o Lokuana cindercone in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. PC: NPS Photo/Janice Wei


Pu‘u o Lokuana is a short .4-mile hike to the top of the grassy cinder cone, Pu‘u o Lokuana. Learn about the formation and various uses of this hill over time and enjoy a breathtaking view of lower Ka‘ū. This hike is offered Jan. 27 and March 31 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Palm Trail is a moderately difficult 2.6-mile loop traversing scenic pastures 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. A guided hike of Palm Trail is offered Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Palm Trail in the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. PC:
NPS/Sami Steinkamp

Hi‘iaka & Pele: Discover two fascinating Hawaiian goddesses, sisters Pelehonuamea (Pele) and Hi‘iaka, and the natural phenomena they represent. Visitors will experience the sisters coming alive through the epic stories depicted in the natural landscape of Kahuku on this easy 1.7-mile walk on the main road in Kahuku. The Hi‘iaka and Pele program is offered Feb. 3 and March 3 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Nature & Culture: An Unseverable Relationship (He Pilina Wehena ‘Ole). Hike the Palm Trail and be inspired by a place where hulihia (catastrophic change) and kulia (restoration) can be observed as the land transitions from the 1868 lava flow and its pioneer plants, to deeper soil with more diverse and older flora. Learn about native plants and their significance in Hawaiian culture. This moderate hike is about two miles and takes two hours. The Nature & Culture program is offered Feb. 4 and March 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Ranger Wendy leads the Nature and Culture hike. PC: NPS

Keep up with Kahuku events and visit the calendar on the park website and download the Kahuku Site Bulletin.

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