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OT: Kilauea Iki

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OT: Kilauea Iki
April 01, 2014 07:46PM
The Kilauea Iki loop is a short "tourist" trail in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. With the Crater Rim loop road and trail closed due to the recent, ongoing eruption of Kilauea (this is one trail closure we respected), this is perhaps one of the best remaining day loop hikes in the park.

The loop can be started at either the Kilauea Iki parking area or the Lava Tube lot; the latter seems to be full more often due to the popularity of the Lava Tube, especially among tour busses.

We hiked the loop clockwise, choosing to take the drop into the crater/former lava lake all at once. The descent is along nicely-graded switchbacks that pass though dense foliage with only glimpses of the crater's floor. The contrast of the lush descent with the floor of Kilauea Iki could not be more pronounced. Photosynth

Unlike in the Sierra where the rock is untold millions of years old, the floor of this former lava lake is a bit over half a century old--in fact in some places it's still warm to the touch and there are a few active steam vents.

The former lava lake's surface shows buckling, cracking, and fracturing, not unlike what you'd expect if the surface of a lake froze over, then the lake was drained--which is more or less what happened here, but at higher temperatures. Around the perimeter the "high lava" line is readily apparent. Photosynth

At the far (west) end of the crater, the (a'a) lava was more rugged--this was near where the lava started flowing into the crater and a new mountain (Puʻu Puaʻi) formed. Photosynth

After a steep climb out of the west end of the crater, we reached the junction with the Byron Ledge trail. We took this short diversion and were greeted with views into the comparatively huge Kilauea crater and the active vent at Halema'uma'u.

We chose to return to the loop trail, but in hindsight it is probably more scenic to continue north on the Byron Ledge trail then take a second spur back to the loop. The loop trail itself continued the climb out of the crater, then followed its rim closely--with an occasional view into the crater--back to the parking lot.

More Pix
avatar Re: OT: Kilauea Iki
April 02, 2014 10:52AM
This brings back some memories for me. My wife and I did this loop on our second day in Hawaii, the conditions look similar too. Good times. Thanks for taking me back to 2002.
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