a VirtualTourist member from Englewood
I am looking for directions on where I need to drive, park, hike to get to see the lava flow? How far of a hike is it? I appreciate any information you can share. Thanks.
If you want to see actual lava flow close-up, you should go with a guide who knows the area.
It's at the end of Crater Chains Road. We did it on our own, we got to see it from afar when it got dark even though we hiked pretty far in. But because we didn't know exactly where to go, we weren't able to see close-up.
Here's the official info on lava flows from Kilauea:
For a hiker's perspective, go here:
Arnott's provides guided hikes to the surface flows AND has some realistic info on his website.
Read both sites.
To get to the lava flows, when you pay your entrance fee, just ask where you can find Chain of Craters Road. Then just follow it all the way to the end by the sea. Park where you can and hike along the coast heading east. The distance to the surface flow all depends on where Pele has decided to send it.
Heed the warnings and be sure to take extra batteries for your flashlights (torches - as some refer to them) and plenty of water (3 liters per person). Take lights with you even for day-hikes because you never know what might happen to strand you there after dark.
It is extremely dangerous to hike the lava fields at night without light. The lava is black and even if there is a full moon, depth perception is affected. And what may look like a slight, shadowed depression could be a skylight to a huge cavern.
These skylights of old lava tubes are very deep and without a light, you'd easily miss it and fall in.
When we went on our first hike out there with Arnott's, our guide found an old lava tube that had a huge 15-20 foot opening and it dropped down just as deep.
We then hiked through it for a few hundred yards and found a small skylight of only about 2 feet across. Some in our group climbed up and crawled out. I mention this because this skylight, viewed from the surface, was very small and hard to see. And that was in the daylight.
At night, this little hole could very well be deadly for an unsuspecting hiker.
Also be sure to stay off the lava benches. These benches develope around the lava's entry point to the ocean. They are notorious for colapsing without notice. People have died in the process.
Besides all of this, it is quite a wonderful experience.
Have fun and be safe.
I hiked the lava plains on October 1, 2006. I was a member of a hiking group
of approximately 50 people. We hiked 4 1/2 miles in and saw actual flows that had emerged through vents and cracks. We were in far enough to see the destroyed town of Kalapana. Our start point was the Visitor Center near the end of Chain of Craters road. There is a 1/2 mile level plain walk down Chain of Craters Road, where it abruptly ends as lava has covered the road. Be prepared however, this hike was taxing, very taxing.
How long did it take you to hike the 4 1/2 miles in?
approximately 2 & 1/2 hours. We took a break at every mile marker in the lava
fields for about 8 minutes.