Volcano Park’s Kahuku Unit Offers Free Guided Hikes

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Ranger Wendy leads the guided Hi‘iaka & Pele program at Hawai‘i Volcano National park’s Kahuku Unit. PC: NPS/Janice Wei.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park invites the public to participate in free guided hikes, coffee talks, and ‘Ike Hana No‘eau Hawaiian cultural programs in the park’s Kahuku Unit from April through June 2018. Kahuku is also open for individual exploration on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., including Easter Sunday, Apr. 1.

The Kahuku Unit of the park is accessible on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5. For guided hikes and activities, visitors should meet at the parking area. The Kahuku Unit is located in Ka‘ū driving 50-minutes south of the park’s main entrance. Sturdy footwear, water, rain gear, sun protection and a snack are recommended for all hikes. Entrance and all programs are free. Up-to-date information on Kahuku events and activities can be found on the park’s website.

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 Apr. 7, May 19, and Jun. 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.


Palm Trail: A moderately difficult 2.6-mile loop traversing scenic pastures along an ancient cinder cone, with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku offers. Highlights include relics of the ranching era, remnant native forest and volcanic features from the 1868 eruptive fissures. A guided hike of Palm Trail is offered Apr. 8, May 6 and Jun. 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Birth of Kahuku: Explore the rich geologic history of Kahuku. Traverse the vast 1868 lava flow, see different volcanic formations, and identify section 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 April 14, May 12 and June 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

People and Land 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 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 Apr. 15, May 20 and Jun. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


‘Ike Hana No‘eau (Experience the Skillful Work): Hawaiian cultural demonstrations are held at Kahuku on the third Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. Programs are free.
Dates as follows: Apr. 20, May 18, and Jun. 15.

Realms and Divisions of Kahuku: Experience the intersection of nature and culture on this moderately difficult two-mile, two-hour guided hike on Pu‘u Kahuku Trail. 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 Apr. 21 (National Park Week), May 5 and Jun. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

‘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 Apr. 22 (Earth Day & National Park Week), May 13 and 27, Jun. 10 and 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.


Coffee Talk: Get to know the park and neighbors through coffee and conversation on a wide variety of topics at Kahuku on the last Friday of most months. Ka‘ū coffee, tea and pastries will be available for purchase. Offered free on Apr. 27, May 25, and Jun. 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 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 Apr. 28 (National Park Week), May 26, and Jun. 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Pu‘u o Lokuana: A short 0.4-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 Apr. 29 (National Park Week), from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

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