“Immerse yourself in a new lava landscape formed by the 1969-1974 Mauna Ulu eruption.
— Brian Smith
Birding · Views
This hike recounts the tale of one of Klauea's longest recorded rift zone eruptions. The well-marked trail traverses expansive lava fields, passes just next to wide fissures, and guides visitors to dramatic features that were produced by quickly cooling lava flows.
Need to Know
Surface patterns and delicate lava trees are made from fragile rock. Reduce your impact. Do not touch these formations.
Harmful gases from the active eruption are often blown into this area. Wind conditions can change quickly. Infants, young children, pregnant women, and folks with cardiac or respiratory problems are especially at risk. If fumes cause physical distress, leave the area!
In the pre-dawn morning of May 24, 1969, residents and visitors were jarred awake by window-rattling earthquakes. A large fissure had opened up in a quiet forest along Chain of Craters Road. Soon red-hot lava burst forth to announce the start of a new eruption, the birth of Mauna Ulu (growing mountain).
In the five short years of this eruption, roads, cultural sites, and coastal grasslands were burned and buried in the lavas relentless flow to the sea. A succession of flows transformed vast forests into an eerie landscape of desolate lava fields.
Today Mauna Ulu looms over this surreal landscape, where lava trees stand after the surrounding flows drained away. Step off the pavement and into the past. Re-live the 19691974 Mauna Ulu eruption and witness how this sacred Hawaiian landscape continues to undergo rapid and extraordinary change.
Start by hiking along the road and branch off to the south to check out the fissure. Complete the short loop before continuing along the Napau Trail
to Mauna Ulu.