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Hiking Lady’s Hawaiian Adventure: Part 2, Volcanoes National Park

After hiking Kauai’s NaPali Coast, the adventure continued! I headed to the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) and explored Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park!

Kilauea Caldera, Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea Caldera, Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park incorporates two of the five volcanoes on the island of Hawaii – Mauna Loa and Kilauea. This national park is unlike any others I have visited, and rightly so. Where else on earth do you find active volcanoes and one that has been in constant eruption since 1983?

What to do at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?

First step – I checked in with the Visitor’s Center to find out current conditions. Lava flows have buried roads (i.e., the main road through the park, the Chain of Craters Road, dead ends where lava has buried it). Additionally, the level of lava movement varies dramatically, as does its location. When I was there, there were not any visible lava flows, however, Kilauea put on quite the night show!

Thurston Lava Tube

The hike to the lava tube is less than a mile, and it is a beautiful walk through a Hawaiian rainforest. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the lava tube when you see the cave like entrance ahead…

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Imagine walking through a cave like structure, knowing that boiling lava rushed through there over 500 years ago. Molten lava flows like a river, and just like water, it “freezes”, or creates a crusty surface at the top while the lava still flows beneath. Eventually, the lava finishes flowing, and a cave like empty cavity below the surface called a “lava tube” is all that remains.

Inside Thurston Lava Tube

Inside Thurston Lava Tube

I was surprised by the size of the Thurston Lava Tube – it was quite massive…no need to watch my head or squeeze in this cave! I had to put on my rain jacket since quite a bit of water was dripping from the ceiling. I even had to stash my camera to keep it dry. Nonetheless, this lava tube is a must see if you head to Volcanoes National Park!

Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea is an impressive sight, and it is well worth staying past sunset to see the ominous glow of the orange and yellow volcanic gases. It is a shield volcano, not a conical volcano, so you can literally drive to the top and look down to see the 400 foot wide depression, the caldera. Within the Kilauea Caldera is the Halema’uma’u Crater, which is the main vent (and where you can see gases from the boiling lava glowing at night!).

Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder Cone Hike

Perhaps it was the misty weather, or the race against sunset, but the hike to Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder was desolate. It was a surreal experience, with most of the three mile journey marked only by “ducks”, or stacks of rocks placed by other hikers or rangers to designate the direction of the trail over the crusty lava flows.

The hike begins by crossing lava fields, and lots of evidence of destruction from the 1969-1974 Mauna Ulu eruption. There are many steam vents visible in the distance. I really had to pay attention to my footing in order to avoid stepping into large cracks in the crusty lava.

Pu'u Huluhulu Hike

Pu’u Huluhulu Hike

After crossing the lava fields, an actual trail becomes visible. It is narrow and slightly overgrown, and leads up 150 feet to the summit the Pu’u Huluhulu. From there, the views are magnificent! Even though it was overcast when I was there, I could still look out and see steaming vents and get a sense of the vastness of the national park. It was not clear enough to see the Pacific Ocean, so perhaps I’ll need to book another trip to Hawaii! ;)

Pu'u Huluhulu Lava Fields

Pu’u Huluhulu Lava Fields

Happy trails, and happy Hawaiian hiking!

Hiking Lady’s Hawaiian Adventure: Part 1, Kauai’s NaPali Coast

Hiking Lady is back from Hawaii! I explored two beautiful islands of the Hawaiian Island chain, Kauai and the island of Hawaii (commonly referred to as the Big Island). Have you dreamed of hiking along the NaPali Coast in Kauai? Then you’re in the right spot – this is Part 1 of my Hawaiian Adventure blog series, and is all about hiking in Kauai!

Kauai's NaPali Coast

Kauai’s NaPali Coast

Hiking Kauai’s Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls

The day began a little later than planned because I wanted to have a leisurely and healthy breakfast at the hotel, which meant plenty of delicious Hawaiian dragonfruit! Any hiker will burn a lot of calories on this hike, so eat up and pack lots of snacks!

Hawaiian dragonfruit

Hawaiian dragonfruit

How to Get to Kalalau Trail

There is only one “major” road along the north shore of Kauai, Kuhio Highway, a misnomer for the tiny road that wraps around most of the north side of the island. The narrow asphalt strip is the only thing on the north shore that isn’t covered in lush green vegetation. After passing through Princeville and Hanalei Bay, Kuhio Highway ends at the trailhead to the stunning Kalalau Trail. It is the best way to view Kauai’s NaPali Coast.

How to get to Kalalau Trailhead, Kauai

How to get to Kalalau Trailhead, Kauai

“The Hike At The End of the Road” to the “Beautiful Waterfall”

Prior to my trip, several hiking friends who had traveled to Kauai previously told me about this hike. However, no one could remember the name or the details! It was just “the hike at the end of the road”. You can’t miss it!

Kalalau Trailhead

Kalalau Trailhead

Hanakapi’ai Falls Hike Details:

  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 600 feet
  • Notables: This hike can be very slippery, especially after days of rain on Kauai. Be sure to wear shoes with Vibram soles and ideally a pair that is waterproof. (See Hiking Lady reviews: Vasque Blur trail running shoes, Asolo Stynger GTX boots)
  • Bring a headlamp, especially during the fall and winter months. The Kalalau trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls is a long hike and unless you start early you may be finishing at dusk.
Hiking Lady on Kalalau Trail

Hiking Lady on Kalalau Trail

The hike starts out with two miles of primarily uphill hiking over slippery, wet rocks along the NaPali cliffs. The trail was paved with rocks in the 1930s when it was primarily used by horses and cattle!

My muddy Vasque Blur shoes at the end of the hike!

My muddy Vasque Blur shoes at the end of the hike!

At two miles, you reach Hanakapi’ai Beach, a beautiful white sand beach that is a popular spot for backpackers to set up camp.

Once you reach Hanakapi’ai Beach and cross Hanakapi’ai Stream, the trail narrows and the real adventure begins! Since I was there in Fall after a week of heavy rain, it was a bit risky to attempt the waterfall hike, but I went for it! I had to be sure my footing was solid on the stream crossings; a pair of trekking poles would have come in quite handy. Unfortunately I was not able to find a sporting goods shop in the little village of Hanalei that would rent me a pair of trekking poles.

As I made my way up the valley I was glad that I brought waterproof shoes on this hike. My Vasque Blurs handled the deep and sticky mud quite well, and my feet stayed dry through the numerous stream crossings.

The hike was all worth it – the 300 foot Hanakapi’ai Falls are truly spectacular!

Hanakapi'ai Falls

Hanakapi’ai Falls – well worth the muddy trek up Kanakapi’ai Valley.

I hope you too get to hike the NaPali Coast and experience Hanakapi’ai Falls. Aloha, and happy Hawaiian hiking!

Getting Ready for the Channel Islands!

Greetings friends,

I am planning an exciting adventure! I will be camping and hiking on Santa Cruz Island, one of the gorgeous islands off of California’s coastline just west of Los Angeles.

Channel Islands, National Park Service

Channel Islands, National Park Service

The Channel Islands are protected by the National Park Service, and remind us of what coastal California looked like before the urban sprawl. Pristine coastlines, wildflowers, solitude…I can’t wait to go!

I’ll be referencing the Hiking Lady’s Backpacking Checklist this week to get all the gear together I’ll need!

Hiking Lady's Backpacking Checklist

Click here for Hiking Lady's Backpacking Checklist

Day 1

  • Depart Ventura on Island Packers boat (cost $79 per person for overnight trips) to Santa Cruz Island. Luckily it is only an hour ride so I shouldn’t get seasick!
  • Set up camp 0.5 miles from the pier at the Santa Cruz Scorpion Ranch campground.
  • Hike to El Montanon, an 8.5 mile round trip hike with 1800 feet of elevation gain. The views are apparently amazing and on a clear day all 6 islands in the Santa Barbara chain of Channel Islands will be visible, as well as the coastline of Southern California all the way from Point Conception to Palos Verdes!
  • Enjoy night one at the Scorpion Ranch campground. I’m packing Mountain House Rice & Chicken for dinner!
Santa Cruz hikes from Scorpion Beach, NPS

Santa Cruz hikes from Scorpion Beach, NPS

Day 2

CLIF Bar Nuts & Seeds new flavor

  • Wake up and have breakfast at Scorpion Ranch campground. Pack snacks (including the new CLIF Bar Nuts & Seeds flavor!) for the hike to Potato Harbor. Hike for 4.8 miles, round trip.
  • Return from Potato Harbor hike and take down camp and head back for the boat departure back to Ventura.

Do you have a hike planned soon? Have you been to Santa Cruz Island? Share your tips!

Happy trails!

Hiking Lady’s Hawaiian Adventure

This Fall I went on an amazing hiking trip to some of the most beautiful hiking spots on earth: Kauai’s NaPali Coast and the Big Island of Hawaii. Thank you to everyone who wrote in after the October Hiking Lady e-mail newsletter with trip suggestions. The hikes were full of beautiful vistas, friendly locals, and lots of mud! Stay tuned for trip write-ups.

Part 1: Kauai’s NaPali Coast.

In this upcoming blog post I’ll be sharing with you details about my hike along the gorgeous NaPali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever hiked, albeit quite muddy and slippery after a week of Kauai’s typical rain! Did you know that Mount Waiʻaleʻale on Kauai is home to one of the wettest places on the planet? No wonder the island is called the Garden Isle!

Kauai's NaPali Coast

Kauai’s NaPali Coast

Hanalei Pier, Kauai

Hanalei Pier, Kauai

Part 2: The Island of Hawaii – Volcanoes National Park.

After a few days on the island of Kauai, I ventured to the Big Island. There I explored most of the island, from the eastern shores of Kailua Kona, to the cattle ranches in the north east, all the way to Volcanoes National Park in the southwest. I even checked out Mauna Kea, home to some of the best stargazing in the world.

Kilauea Caldera, Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea Caldera, Volcanoes National Park

I even had a chance to stand up paddleboard with the famous Hona sea turtles along the Kona Coast! The shells of these sea turtles can be over three feet in diameter, and can weigh 220 pounds!
Hona sea turtle

Hona sea turtle

Stay tuned for the upcoming Hawaiian Adventure blog posts and happy trails!

Grab a book…it’s the lazy days of summer

The High Adventure of Eric Ryback Summer’s end is just around the corner, and before those lazy relaxed days pass you by, how about picking up a book to read. Check out Hiking Lady’s extensive list of book recommendations and reviews.

One of my favorites is a classic, now out of print book called The High Adventure of Eric Ryback. In 1970 the 17 year old young author set out to hike from Canada to Mexico, and in so doing became the first person to hike what would later be known as the Pacific Crest Trail.

Perhaps reading the hiking journeys of others will inspire you to plan some fall hikes as the weather cools down.

Happy trails!