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“Puu Huluhulu and beyond.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Pu'u Huluhulu trail

Pu'u Huluhulu trail
Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Island of Hawaii, HI
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Klickitat, Washington
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Puu Huluhulu and beyond.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2013

The trip to Pu'u Huluhulu by itself is a 5 star rating, but we went the entire length of the Napau Trail so I dropped it to a 4 star. A group of us went in July 2012 after a Mauna Loa Summit venture and enjoyed this hike more. The trail takes off from a side road/parking area just off the Chain of Craters road (turn off is about 3.5 miles along the CoCR. We dropped a car down the CoCR at the Kealakomo Overlook where the Napau Trail comes out. Get a park map!
The walk out to Pu'u Huluhulu is easy and is appropriate for families. The trail skirts the edge of the lava flow and has several features both geologic and biological to keep you interested. You hike over to a heavily forested Hill (Pu'u) and the trail up is semi-aerobic but the vegetation is different (more varied than the scattered Ohia on the edge of the lava field). The view from the top is fascinating with a heavily vegetated mini-crater inside Pu'u Huluhulu itself. The steep outside walls are also heavily vegetated. A view out to the east is equally awesome. It looks out at Mauna Ulu (3200' elevation) which was the source of all the lava in this huge volcanic field. From the top of Pu'u Huluhulu as you look to Mauna Ulu you can't help but notice a large semi-sunken flat area which was the site of a lava lake much like Kilauea Iki but smaller and on a hillside.
Our group of experienced hikers took the Mauna Ulu trail (not necessarily family friendly after a while) that branched off at the base of Pu'u Huluhulu. It continues out and around Pu'u Huluhulu and crosses the rise between it and Mauna Ulu. Very difficult to see the lava lake so I took a side trip up to the lip of the lake. Easy going as the lava that poured out left very smooth but brittle pahoehoe slides to walk up. The back side of Mauna Ulu was filled with lava trenches, smooth river beds for the lava to flow through. Lots of cool geology stuff to keep a rock junkie happy! As we followed the Ahu (rock cairns) that mark the trail - some easy route finding kept your interest and your eyes up and looking at features. At the top of the eastern ridge of Mauna Ulu we entered an area that was still steaming with rusty red colored vents. This was the main vent system for Mauan Ulu and this area had more Aa (rough jagged lava) that demanded that you watch your footing - indeed you must have good solid well-broken in footware. We continued over extreme volcanic area to the trail junction at Makaopuhi Crater (5 miles from trailhead). This forested edge of an older crater and its sloping rise up kept it from being covered in the most recent flows. The edge of the large Makaopuhi Crater also had steam vents, etc. We walked a forested 2 miles down to the Napau Trail junction. we went east a mile or so to hopefully break out of the trees for a view of Pu'u Oo and the currently active area but turned back as we felt time pressure (not wanting to search for rock cairns in the dark). It was another forested 1.2 miles to the Naulu Trail/ Kalapana Trail junction. This was more of a path than trail but was easy to follow. At the Kalapana trail Junction it was another 2.0 miles out to the Kealakomo Overlook and our rental car. It was interesting that on the final leg of the hike, we were constantly moving in and out of the old road that had been covered periodically with lava. Great as a through put type hike, awesome geological features. Foot weary by the end but perfect to build the appetite for a restaurant stop on the drive back...

Visited July 2012
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29 reviews from our community

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Mount Desert, Maine
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Loved this trail - don't miss the Eruption Fissure spur trail!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2013

Wow, I wasn't disappointed at all! This trail takes you through an old lava field where lots of ferns and other plants are growing up through the cracks. You see both pahoehoe and a'a lava, tree molds, and a kipuka or patch of forest spared by the flow. Lots of ohi'a trees, birds and sunshine, not a lot of shade.

The view from Pu'u Huluhulu is great! You can see right into the old crater, now filled with birds and trees, it's own jungle environment right below you. You hike by Mauna Ulu, still steaming, and can see Pu'u O'o vent, the source of the current lava flows in the distance. Do pick up a trail guide at the trail head - lots of good info.

The highlight for me, however, was the little spur rail off to the right of the main trailhead. There is a sign pointing you to the fissure area. There was an eruption ( forget the date) in which a mile-long fissure opened up, spewing fountains of lava all along it. The resulting openings in the rock and the trees and ferns growing out of them are just spectacular!

We twice saw nene geese feeding on ohele berries, unafraid of our presence.

A great hike!

Visited January 2013
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Okemos, Michigan
Top Contributor
87 reviews 87 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
“A bit disappointing”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2013 via mobile

We did this trail yesterday and were a bit disappointed. The trail is well marked, wandering through the edge of a lava field and then up through a more tropical area to an overlook of a large cinder cone. We may have been spoiled by our earlier hike on the Kilauea Iki trail and hiking out to the lava flow, but still, most of the trail seemed uneventful.

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Lake Orion, Michigan
Top Contributor
146 reviews 146 reviews
40 attraction reviews
Reviews in 70 cities Reviews in 70 cities
214 helpful votes 214 helpful votes
“Great trail, easy to follow and manage, beautiful views!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2013

I was sick on the trail, and still enjoyed it - so it must have been good!!

Seriously, the trail is a great diversion in the park, and I think one of the highlights. The payoff at the end is really worth it.

The trail itself starts at a small car park on the Chain of Craters Road. The walk is a 2.5 mile round-trip hike and it is relatively flat, and easy to manage for most people. There are not too many areas where it is hazardous, but the last bit is quite a steep climb, but not dangerous or difficult for most people. You just need to walk at your own pace. Footing is decent, but can be slightly muddy. You don't really need special shoes or anything for this trail.

The trail is well-marked for novices, and it will be obvious once you get there, but look for small plastic reflectors and little rock stacks which help navigate the path.

The final climb up to the viewing area is steep, but has stairs and hand-rails. The view is excellent from up here, but the viewing area is quite small. We had the good fortune of being the only ones up there at the time, but if you run into others, it is a tight squeeze!

You will see a big cinder cone, essentially a formed large hill of lava flow, that looks so stark and menacing - like you would see in a Lord of the Rings movie. Life is starting to make a showing on the trail too, so it is neat to see the plant life among the devastation of the lava flows.

There is a bathroom at the car park, but no other facilities available for purchase of water or snacks.

Visited December 2012
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Palm Coast, Florida
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
34 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2012

We followed the Pu'u Huluhulu trail in a search for geo-caching sites. Really nice hike but beware of the last few hundred feet as it gets pretty steep. View from the top is well worth the climb.

Visited March 2012
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