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Rainforest to Puʻu ʻŌʻō Trail

Rainforest to Puʻu ʻŌʻō Trail

Suitable for:
Active traveller, nature lover, couples
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Hardly known and not much going on
TouriSpot
Insider Tip
Time needed: 1-2 hours
5 hours
Optimal arrival time:
08:30 o' clock
Cost:
Free
Suitable for:
Active traveller, nature lover, couples
Insider tip or tourist spot?
Hardly known and not much going on
TouriSpot
Insider Tip
Time needed: 1-2 hours
5 hours
Optimal arrival time:
08:30 o' clock
Cost:
Free

Profile of the hike

Distance total
11,58 Kilometer
Distance uphill
2,25 Kilometer
Distance downhill
2,35 Kilometer
Altitude meters uphill
103 Meter
Altitude meters downhill
- 104 Meter

Rainforest to Puʻu ʻŌʻō Trail - Description

Opinions differ about this hiking trail. Is it allowed to walk it or not? In the "Ultimate Guidebook of Big Island" you can find this trail. Some claim that the rainforest there is public land. Residents, on the other hand, say that it is on private property and that you are not allowed to walk it. There is also a prohibition sign at the beginning of the trail. I guess the park ranchers just want to keep the tourists at bay. Exciting adventures beyond the tourist hotspots might require ignoring a prohibition sign. (Without that we would like to ask you to do so!) In America almost everything is forbidden...

The way to the highly active PuuOo crater is not easy to find. From Hilo, take Highway 11 in the direction of Volcano Village. After Mountain View, turn left at the gas station onto S. Glenwood Road, which becomes Captain's Drive. Follow this road to the end. There, where prohibition signs point to the "Rainforest to PuuOo Hike", you leave your car and hope on your return that it remained unharmed. Again and again one hears of car break-ins there. It is advisable not to leave valuables in the car and to open the glove compartment. A tip you hear again and again. This shows the thieves that nothing is up for grabs. It's up to you to decide whether you want to embark on this adventure. What awaits you there, however, is more than spectacular. It is to be said, however, quite clearly that this hike is only something for adventurers who know something about volcanoes. The path itself, however, is with a length of 12 km for outward and return well to master.

The rainforest itself is dreamlike. A narrow path leads through lush greenery rarely seen. And a silence that is unparalleled, disturbed only by melodious birdsong. Again and again rustling in the rainforest makes me pause. There are supposed to be wild boars here from time to time. How to deal with them I don't know, I haven't seen any. Probably panic and attack is the wrong choice. When you have passed the rainforest, you are standing directly in front of the bombastic PuuOo crater. The surroundings resemble a battlefield. Fallen, burned trees, here and there columns of smoke billowing out of the ground and pointing to underground lava tubes. Whether one can see molten lava here is uncertain, but can be found on the Kilauea observatory page. Or you can approach the smoke columns or follow the flight paths of the helicopters that circle above you and show tourists the crater from the air.

What we say

Florian
Volcano enthusiasts should not miss this trail. It is a great spectacle to stand directly in front of the most active crater in the world. This path through rainforest, which leads directly to the crater, was previously closed to me. Years ago I had seen a film of a French volcano researcher who hiked this very path with some students to then stand face to face with the active crater. Since that film, I can't get rid of the idea and the urgent desire to do the same. Excited, I flip through the American guidebook and find a whole page with a map about the "Rainforest to PuuOo-Hike". On the Internet one finds little about it. Discomfort sets in, firstly because I don't know if I want to venture into this terrain, secondly because I'm traveling with my newly married wife, who so far can't really share my passion for volcanoes. The path through the rainforest is mostly muddy because it often rains in the rainforest. Red flags are attached to the trees so that one does not leave the path and also finds the way back. Some adventurers have even climbed PuuOo to take a look into the bubbling cauldron, but I can't recommend it. The crater rims are often brittle and can break away from time to time. Then this excursion becomes more than dangerous. You should also familiarize yourself with the "habits" of the volcano, wind directions, etc., so that you know in which direction potential volcanic gases are blowing. People with respiratory diseases should refrain from this hike. For everyone else, as long as you don't feel a bad burning sensation on your mucous membranes (eyes, throat) or have a strong sulfur taste on your tongue, it's safe. If these symptoms occur, then a damp cloth in front of the face helps, or better yet, just turn around.
Our checklist & tips:
  • Enough liquid (at least 2-3 liters)
  • Good preparation, especially because of the volcanic gases. (More info at https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/current-eruption?qt-science_support_page_related_con=0#qt-science_support_page_related_con)
  • Sturdy shoes and rain jacket are mandatory
  • The earlier the start the more time you have in the fabulous volcanic landscape

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Map and contact data

112665 Captain's Drive, Pahoa, HI 96778
Longitude: -155.12229493232323
Latitude: 19.44555807280902

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