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Perhaps the finest short day hike in the park, a four-mile, 2-3 hour trip down into, across and back out of Kilauea Iki Crater gives one an intimate feel for volcanoes, Hawaiian-Style. Crossing the crater floor on this surface provides one of the most interesting hikes in the Park. Looking up from the bottom of the crater, one can see the distinctive ring around the crater marking the high point of the lava lake during the last eruption. The four mile loop-hike descends from the rim in two places and crosses the crater floor in about three hours hiking at a nominal pace. Along one side, thick fern and ohia forest skirts along the rim and on the other, lush tropical rainforest crowds to the very brink of the crater; bleak volcanic desert lines the crater walls and covers the floor. The start and finish of the hike are along well marked, wide trails following the rim with handrails and stairs in some spots as you begin to descend into the crater. The remainder is an easily followed, well marked trail with stone ahu (cairns) over the crater floor. Recent bore-hole measurements indicate that roiling molten lava is lying beneath the skin of the caldera only 230 feet beneath your hiking boots. Keep your eyes open for Pele’s Hair and Pele’s Tears (fine, thread-like and bead-like deposits of volcanic glass), gaseous vents and other marvels of the living lava mountain. This hike requires you to take plenty of water, rain gear, suncream, a map and compass, to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and to be in fairly good physical condition. As always when hiking in the Park, it is wise to avoid the noonday sun, and to remember that afternoon showers are common, especially at the crater rims.

Written and produced by Donnie MacGowan; narrated by Frank Burgess; videography by Donald MacGowan and Frank Burgess; original musical score written and performed by Donnie MacGowan.

For more information about touring Hawaii in general or visiting the Big Island in particular, go to and


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