Napau-Makaopuhi Crater Trail

Napau-Makaopuhi Crater Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Address, Napau-Makaopuhi Crater Trail Reviews: 4.5/5

Napau-Makaopuhi Crater Trail

Napau-Makaopuhi Crater Trail
4.5
What people are saying
Randyhol
By Randyhol
Outstanding, via the Naulu Trail alternative
Jun 2017
Hiked this during a recent trip to the Big Island. We are avid and experienced California based hikers/backpackers. We've logged lots of time and miles in our local Santa Monica Mountains, Yosemite, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Central Sierra (east and west sides). This Hawaiian Volcanoes Park trail was our first serious hike in the Islands. What an amazing adventure. 11.5 miles RT. Mild 800 foot elevation gain over the hike. The trailhead begins at the Kealakomo parking area (approx. 9.7 miles down the Chain of Craters Road). The first couple miles cross lava flows, slow going, but well marked with lava cairns. The trail next follows the former Chain of Craters road (you walk along old, lava covered pavement), before entering a forest area that transitions to much denser rain forest. The trail intersects the Napau Trial 3.2 miles from the Naulu Trail trailhead. Turning right at the intersection takes you past the eastern end of the Makaopuhi Crater with good views into that crater, through more very dense rain forest, past the ruins of a former pulu factory (amazing on its own), and past steam vents literally right next to the trail, to the Napau Crater overlook with Pu'u O'o steaming in the distance about 2 miles away. We spent over an hour just hanging out at the overlook letting the day pass by. A moderate to challenging hike depending on your condition. We loved every bit of it. The weather cooperated completely. Nary a drop of rain. And most amazingly, no bugs of any sort, not biting, buzzing, nothing!! A totally new environment for us. Orders of magnitude more enjoyable and interesting for us versus the apparently more popular and well known/worn Kilauea Iki trail. We met one other hiker early in this Naulu Trail hike, then had it to ourselves the rest of the day. Highly recommended for a serious, day long hike into an area of great diversity, interest, and solitude.

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Randyhol
Camarillo, CA204 contributions
Outstanding, via the Naulu Trail alternative
Jun 2017 • Couples
Hiked this during a recent trip to the Big Island. We are avid and experienced California based hikers/backpackers. We've logged lots of time and miles in our local Santa Monica Mountains, Yosemite, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Central Sierra (east and west sides). This Hawaiian Volcanoes Park trail was our first serious hike in the Islands. What an amazing adventure. 11.5 miles RT. Mild 800 foot elevation gain over the hike. The trailhead begins at the Kealakomo parking area (approx. 9.7 miles down the Chain of Craters Road). The first couple miles cross lava flows, slow going, but well marked with lava cairns. The trail next follows the former Chain of Craters road (you walk along old, lava covered pavement), before entering a forest area that transitions to much denser rain forest. The trail intersects the Napau Trial 3.2 miles from the Naulu Trail trailhead. Turning right at the intersection takes you past the eastern end of the Makaopuhi Crater with good views into that crater, through more very dense rain forest, past the ruins of a former pulu factory (amazing on its own), and past steam vents literally right next to the trail, to the Napau Crater overlook with Pu'u O'o steaming in the distance about 2 miles away. We spent over an hour just hanging out at the overlook letting the day pass by. A moderate to challenging hike depending on your condition. We loved every bit of it. The weather cooperated completely. Nary a drop of rain. And most amazingly, no bugs of any sort, not biting, buzzing, nothing!! A totally new environment for us. Orders of magnitude more enjoyable and interesting for us versus the apparently more popular and well known/worn Kilauea Iki trail. We met one other hiker early in this Naulu Trail hike, then had it to ourselves the rest of the day. Highly recommended for a serious, day long hike into an area of great diversity, interest, and solitude.
Written June 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jeffrey R
Tampa, FL356 contributions
The closest you get to Pu'u O'o, with some great things to see along the way.
May 2017 • Friends
This is the second time I've done the Napau trail. The beauty of this trek is that there are a great variety of things to look at along the way - the Mauna Ulu shield, Makaopuhi Crater, a range of smaller craters and shields, and all sorts of neat lava features (perched ponds, lava tubes, etc.). The trail per se doesn't pass close to most of these, but it's easy to jump out across the lava to check things out and then return to the ahu chain that marks the trail, across the 1969-1971 lava fields. In the jungle the trail has gotten tighter (there needs to be a machete team cutting through the damned ferns!), but you can explore the ruined pulu factory (hard to imagine now that there was enough tree fern to justify it, but 200 years ago...) and the sights at Napau Crater, with Pu'u O'o smoldering in the distance, are well worth it. I recommend taking the few minutes to climb Pu'u Huluhulu and get the regional view before heading out across the lava fields, as that gives you a good sense of what you can see along the way.
Written June 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

pollyp65
Rainsville, AL164 contributions
How many volcanoes were there?
May 2017 • Family
The crater rim drive takes you to lava field from hundreds of years ago to more recent flows in the 1970s. The amount and depth of the once molten lava is unbelievable. What is even more astounding in the dark lifeless areas is the sparse vegetation that has begun to grow there.
Written June 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

JOhn Doe
10 contributions
Very fun, easy hike
Apr 2017 • Solo
I loved this hike - you're actually inside an old crater, wandering over all kinds of lava. There are still steam vents from when it was active. Like another reviewer said, it is really like a moonscape. Very spooky and cool. If you take the hike from Volcano Lodge, you spend some time in the jungle overlooking the caldera, then head into the crater, then back up into the jungle. A nice day hike. If you start the hike from the road, turn to the RIGHT and go counterclockwise around and into the crater.

Take water, a hat and HIKING SHOES. No flip flops or sandles, this is a real hike.
Written April 27, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Rick C
Sacramento, California, United States159 contributions
Napau Crater Trail
Sep 2016 • Couples
Not an easy walk for young children or wheel chairs. Wear comfortable shoes. Interesting with a guide. Lots of folklore from the Ohelo Ka la'au berries that appear first after a lava flow and are a favorite of goddess Pele. They are an offering to her for the travel through her volcano. To the Ohi'a Lehua tree that myth states were children who became lovers, Pele desired Ohi'a, who declined infidelity to Lehua, Pele turned him into a tree. Lehua begged to have him returned to normal, and Pele as contrition, turned her into the flower of the tree uniting the lovers once more. This hike is filled with folklore, get the right guide.
Written September 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Eileen D
Washington DC, DC234 contributions
Well done- a must to plan your day
Mar 2016 • Friends
12:30 movie amazing. Super park ranger advice and visitor's map. The.location to get on one of the free park ranger-led walking tours. Spotless bathroom.
Written March 5, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

2Cougs
Eagle, ID207 contributions
Average
Feb 2016 • Couples
My wife and I hike whenever we have the chance so we have to use this perspective in this review. We started 9AM with crystal clear beautiful skies and rain did not start until we reached the Napau crater 3 miles later. One of the positives of this hike is its decent length, somewhere around 12.5 miles round trip. So, if you're looking to burn of some extra calories it is really good for that. Also, once you've passed the first crater there are less people here, and even fewer further on. If you're looking for a hike with complete solitude, this will fit the bill. As others have mentioned, the rainforest past the junction with Napau trail is much thicker and overgrown. Make sure to wear convertible pants to avoid getting your legs really scratched up. Mosquitoes were non existent when we were there but bring bug spray it and use it anyway. If I were to do it over again, I would hike only about 3 miles into the smoldering smaller crater between puu huluhulu and puu makapuhi. All in all you'll get more bang for your buck with the Kilauea Iki trail where you get the rain forest, crater overlook spots and the bonus of walking through the crater. You can't get this perspective going to the Napau crater. Also read another description on the Napau crater mentioning this is the closest you can get to the current pu'u o'o but don't think you will be close enough to see anything interesting. Lastly, if you want to the best volcano hike, go with a guided tour and see flowing lava. We did this a couple of years ago and was well worth the money, a for sure 5 star hike and one of those once in a lifetime kind of opportunities.
Written February 7, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Silverwoods
Vernon, B.C.752 contributions
Amazing hike inside a dormant volcano!
Nov 2015 • Couples
We did the full crater rim and crater center hike (including lava tubes) in about 1 hr and 20 minutes. We are all pretty fit and went at a good clip. We loved the hike itself - it was incredible. The best part about it was the rain and windy conditions! I took off my shirt and ran through the pounding rain. What a great day!

Highly recommend visiting this national treasure if you go to the big Island. It is quite a long drive but it is certainly worth it.
Written November 13, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kip F
Sacramento, CA1,284 contributions
Adventure tramping over the lava following cairns, rain forest, crater viewing. GO!
Sep 2015
The parking lot for this hike is off the Chain of Craters Road. Go early in the AM so as to avoid hot afternoon sun on a trail that has no shade until you reach the tropical rain forested area. There is a hiker's register but no fee for it. The Park wants to know who is on it, so if you don't come back, they have an idea of how many to look for. There is a booklet that they ask a $2 donation for, b/c there is a nature trail in the same area that overlaps the beginning of this trail.
It is a 5 mile trail to the Makaopuhi crater and then another 2 miles thru rain forest to the camping area but the final trek to the Napau crater is now closed due to volcanic activity. The trail is across lava with cairns as trail markers, towards the Makaopuhi Crater.

Starting out, we were in sun and got lots of photos of the impressive stark beauty of the place. We when entered the rain forest area which is about 2miles across. We ended up getting soaking wet from the rain forest plants that were wet from a previous storm, and as we went deeper in, we got wetter b/c it started raining on us. The trail thru the rain forest is narrow and overgrown as it isn't really used much. Most hikers stop at Makaopuhi Crater. At the end of the 2miles we emerged into the lava towards the camp site. t As the fog came in, the rain got worse, and we ended up turning around before the end, b/c the viewing would not have been worth the wetness. We ended up finding a lava tube entrance and sat there eating lunch while waiting for the rain to let up. IT finally did, tho we came back to the car with wet packs, and soaked clothing.
Written September 18, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

DanielHenrysson
Karlskrona, Sweden365 contributions
Not the best crater
Aug 2014 • Solo
If you decide to do this trail you will have more nature and feeling then other trails that is closer to the visitor center and park entrance.

As everything in this park, the views and nature is amazing and can probably not be experienced anywhere else in the world.

Anyway, this trail is not the best one in the park and the Makaopuhi crater is average compared to other craters in the park.

It's still a good trail, so depending on how many days you stay in the park, see if you really wanna do this before you get here.
Written July 8, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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