I flew from Maui early in the morning to make the most of this one day trip. After picking up a rental car in Hilo, and an hour drive in the rain, the park was finally in sight.
When I arrived at the park, I stopped at the visitors center to get a map and ask directions to the petroglyphs. If you have not guessed yet, petroglyphs are one of our favorite things.
I drove along the main park loop road and turned right into the Chain of Craters Road. It is still a bit of a drive to get to the trail head to hike to the petroglyphs. When I got out of the car, the rain stopped just in time for my hike. The hike is summarized alongside photos of rock art on the Hawaii Petroglyphs Page.
After my hike out to the petroglyphs, I drove to the end of the road to see the steam from the lava flowing under the ocean. Sometimes you can see the flow above ground, but the lava flows change all the time.
I got back into the car and retraced my drive along the Chain of Craters Road as the rain started up again. There was a small hike near the entrance to the chain of craters road called Devastation Trail that I wanted to hike. It is 1/ of a mile one way. It was short and mostly flat. It wanders through several different environments, including a forest and open field. I found the trail to be well worth the time.
At the end of the trail is an overlook to a crater with steam rising from it. I asked another hiker where the trail lead down into the crater, and they told me to park by the lava tunnel and hike down from there. I decided that that would be the next stop!
Kilauea Iki Trail to the Crater Rim Trail
This hike was 4 miles round trip, though I was able to hike it in about 2 hours and 15 minutes in Teva sandals. I am not trying to say that it was easy - I found this to be the most strenuous trail that I hiked in the park. I just happened to be in good condition at the time.
The hike began at the lava tube parking area, though you may start it at a parking area further down the road at the Kilauea Iki Overlook. The trail starts out as a steep down hill hike through a jungle atmosphere. The trail itself is very obvious while in the forest. Ferns tower over your head and the forest is thick with trees and plants.
The hike down the switchbacks can be quick, and there are also places to rest along the way for those coming back up the trail. You can chose to hike the trail loop in either direction. I think starting from where I did was best.
When you come out of the trees, it opens up immediately into a vast dark area of brown rock and steam rising from vents. Rain water seeps down into the cracks, heat up, and rise out of the cracks in the floor. The hike across the floor is very interesting. You may chose to hike down the switchbacks, visit the floor then hike back up the same trail.
The loop hike out of the crater goes up the opposite side where there are some rails along the steep section out. The trail then continues to curve around the crater. When given a choice in when the trail splits, go right. There were a lot of confused hikers out there!
When I arrived at the parking lot, I realized that it was not my parking lot. The trail actually continues for another 15 minutes along the rim, connecting the two parking lots. So much for knowing what I was doing!
The end of the hike marked the end of my visit to the park. I still had a long drive back to the airport to catch my flight back to Maui. Even though it rained for most of the day, I am glad I went to visit the park.