Keanakakoʻi Crater Trail | Hawaii Volcanoes

The Keanakakoʻi Crater Trail s an unmarked, but well-known trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We were excited to hike this trail because we were able to see lava and hear the hollow, huffing sound of the Kilauea Volcano. This 2.0 mile roundtrip hike is along part of the Crater Rim Road that is closed due to damage.

When we visited, we were able to see little spurts of lava on the Keanakakoʻi Crater Trail.

This hike actually begins at the Devastation trailhead. Instead of parking way down at the far end, find parking right at the beginning. Then leave the parking lot on foot back the way you came. There is a restroom, and the Crater Rim road that has been closed off. The trail follows this road down the hill for about 1 mile to a panoramic overlook of the massive volcano Keanakakoʻi Crater. That makes this a two mile roundtrip hike.

After you pass the bathrooms, the Keanakakoʻi Crater trail begins to drop a little. It’s not steep, and this section of the hike would be easy for wheels. We even saw several bikers headed down to the overlook. It is a road after all.

The trail follows the old road out to the overlook.

Eventually, you come to a gap on the right, and the signs pointing in that direction all read “Eruption viewing.” The trail leaves the road and becomes rocky as it continues to drop down to the rim of the caldera. Those on wheels would have a tough time from this point, but it is only about a hundred meters down to the overlook. 

There were signs marking where to turn off to see the volcano.
This part of the trail wouldn’t be suitable for wheels.

Your first look over the rim of the volcano is breathtaking. The Keanakakoʻi Crater is large enough to hold a town, and there are wisps of steam coming up from several cracks in the wide floor. The mountain seems alive as you look out over the huge crater and see the movement of sulphuric clouds.

The crater is out in the distance.

In the bottom of the crater, we saw what appeared to be a brown pond. Though it is about a mile away, we could see the orange splash of lava, even during the day. It must be really spectacular at night! Then we paused to listen, and the volcano has huffing and chuffing like a giant climbing a hill. We had to be very quiet, but the noise was obvious when everyone held still. It was really impressive to experience the volcano in this way. Side Note: All Volcanic activity slowed in March of 2023, so check the Hawaii Volcanoes website for current information.

There was a lot of steam and you could hear the Keanakakoʻi Crater making noise.
We were lucky enough to catch some lava splashes. This is best at night when it glows red.

The hike back to the parking area is slightly uphill, but it was a pretty short mile. This was one of our favorite parts of our visit to Hawaii Volcanoes because we actually saw the volcano and red lava. Add Keanakakoʻi Crater Trail to your list when you visit. Make sure to check out our family guide when planning your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes, as well as our other Hawaii Volcanoes Kid Hikes.

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