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Hike, Explore, & Protect Kahuku in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

March 21, 2013
Ka Lae, as seen from Kahuku

View of Ka Lae from Kahuku. NPS Photo/David Boyle

Hawaii National Park, HI Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Kahuku Unit by offering free programs to introduce visitors and residents to the park’s southernmost section, April through June 2013.

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 for most events, except for the Ka‘ū ‘Ohana Day, where registration is required.

People and Land 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 Apr. 14, Apr. 21, May 5, May 19, June 2, June 8 and June 29, from 9:30 to 12:30 p.m.

People and Land

Hikers enjoying the People and Land program. NPS Photo.

Palm Trail is a relatively easy 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 Apr. 20, Apr. 28, May 26, June 15, and June 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

NEW! 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 new Mauna Loa Southwest Rift Zone program is offered Apr. 27, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

NEW! Ōhia Lehua on Mother’s Day. 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 new ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua program is offered on Mother’s Day, May 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


‘Ōhi‘a Lehua

‘Ōhi‘a Lehua. NPS Photo/David Boyle

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 Sat., May 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Lunch with a Ranger on Father’s Day. Bring a bag lunch and join a park ranger on June 16, Father’s Day, from 10:30 12:30 p.m. Over lunch, a ranger will guide an open discussion on park resources ranging from significant geological events and features of Mauna Loa, and the natural and cultural history of the Kahuku Unit.



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