Wondering how to enjoy a day at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park? For the next couple of months the park will be marking the tenth anniversary of the Kahuku Unit by offering free programs to introduce visitors to the park's southernmost section.
For all activities below, enter Kahuku on the mauka (uphill) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Sturdy footwear, water, raingear, and a snack are recommended. No advance registration is required, except for the Ka'ū 'Ohana Day, where registration is required.
'Ōhi'a Lehua. There is more to the 'ōhi'a lehua tree than meets the eye. Learn about the vital role of 'ōhi'a lehua in native Hawaiian forests, the many forms of the 'ōhi'a tree, and the lehua flower. Visitors traveling through the park will be able to identify the many differences of the most prominent tree in the Kahuku Unit. Pack a lunch to enjoy during the program. The 'Ōhi'a Lehua program is offered July 20, Aug. 18, and Sept. 28; from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone. Take a short, guided hike to an overlook located on the Upper Palm Trail. From the overlook, park rangers will orient visitors to numerous prominent geologic features of the many eruptions of the Southwest Rift Zone of Mauna Loa. Learn about the fascinating natural processes that create these features and the cultural traditions associated with them. Pack a lunch to enjoy during the program. The Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone program is offered July 21, Aug. 10, and Sept. 15; from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Ka'ū 'Ohana Day. Keiki of all ages are invited to join park rangers and explore Palm Trail by GPS and compass in the park's southernmost section of Kahuku. At least one adult family member or adult group leader must accompany the children. Enjoy a free lunch, and participate in cultural craft demonstrations. Bring a refillable water bottle and sturdy hiking shoes. The event is free, but registration is required, call (808) 985-6019. Offered July 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Palm Trail is a moderately difficult 2.6 mile loop traversing scenic pasture along an ancient cinder cone, with some of the best panoramic views Kahuku has to offer. Highlights include relics of the ranching era, sections of remnant native forest and amazing volcanic features from the 1868 eruptive fissures. A guided hike of Palm Trail is offered Aug. 17 and Sept. 29; from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
People and Lands of Kahuku is a moderate two-mile, three-hour guided hike that loops through varied landscapes to explore the human history of Kahuku. Emerging native forests, pastures, lava fields, and other sites hold clues about ways people have lived and worked on the vast Kahuku lands –from the earliest Hawaiians, through generations of ranching families, to the current staff and volunteers of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Learn about the powerful natural forces at work here and how people have adapted to, shaped, and restored this land. The guided hike is offered Aug. 24, Sept. 14, and Sept. 22; from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.