Nāhuku Hike : 1/2 mile roundtrip
~ 30 minute hike, casual stroll
This 500 year-old lava tube is a must-see!
This short hike is located on the bottom portion of Crater Rim Drive. During this half mile hike, you descend into a forested pit crater, walk through the underground lava tube, and climb up stairs where the trail loops back to the parking area.
The forested area has an old growth forest that collapsed about 500 years ago when the pit crater formed. There are many endemic Native Hawaiian Plants in this area, as well as huge Hāpu’u Pulu tree ferns. The forest canopy includes huge ‘Ohi’a and Koa trees. This is a great place to enjoy the songs of native honeycreeper birds (like the ‘Apapane) up above.
This lava tube is an awesome way to view the “underground pipes” of an active volcano. If you look up towards the ceiling, you will see roots from the old growth forest above. These underground tubes also are homes to many endemic insects who have adapted to living in the dark.
While you are walking in the lava tube, imagine the river of hot lava that flowed through several hundred years ago!
Parking lot is usually busy and if you have time to do an extra stroll through the rain forest, there is overflow parking available at the Kīlauea Iki trail head, a half mile walk away. By parking at Kīlauea Iki, the hike to Nahuku and back will be 1.5 miles round trip.