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Hiking the Kīlauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with Children

Hiking the Kīlauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with Children

While I was happy with taking the shorter hikes at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawai’i, my children had a different idea. When we took a look out over the crater from the overlook on the Devastation Trail, the kids pointed down and said “We want to go THERE!”

hawaii national park volcanoes big island

The floor of Kīlauea Iki viewed from the Desolation Trail Overlook

I understand the appeal. How often do you get to walk through a big lake of lava rock? But I could tell it was going to be a pretty steep decline, then an incline to get out of the crater. But we gave it a shot!

It was a 4 mile loop, with a large portion of that being switchbacks in the shady rainforest getting to and from the crater. The rainforest is full of hapu’u pulu ferns and `ohi’a trees with red lehua blooms. It seemed to be a pretty popular hike, and we passed a lot of people coming back up from the caldera.

volcanoes national park hawaii big island

Curly rainforest ferns on the Kīlauea Iki Trail

When you get to the bottom of the crater, there is no shade and you are walking about a mile each way through a desolate, black lava rock filled crater. You can see steam vents on either side of you. This is amazing, as the lava flow that created this caldera was in 1959. Yet the land below your feet is still cooling!

The kids did great on the Kilauea Iki Trail. At 4 and 6, they were fantastic troopers and enjoyed the hike a lot. I think it helped that the scenery changed from rainforest to crater. I would suggest making sure you had appropriate water to hike with, and slathering on quite a bit of sunscreen.

hawaii national park volcanoes big island

After hiking the caldera, the hardest part of the hike is still to come

National Park Service : Kilauea Iki Train in Volcanoes National Park

  1. Tonya {The Traveling Praters} 21 March, 2013

    Wow! Your kids were troopers! I’ve dreamed of visiting Hawaii, just so I could walk through a lava tube and see some of the volcanoes. Looks like a great hike to experience some of Hawaii’s natural beauty.

  2. MIchelle @ Having Fun in the Texas Sun 22 March, 2013

    What a terrific adventure! Love your picture of the ferns, too!

  3. Lisa from Gone With The Family 22 March, 2013

    Great photos – I want to go there too! We have been to Maui and Oahu and I want to visit the Big Island now so that I can see Volcanoes National Park.

    • Leticia 29 April, 2013

      Beautiful! We haven’t done much hiking since we moved to Tx, but I’m extceid to spend two weeks in PA and upstate NY in August, we already have several hikes planned. So glad you’re joining the race!

  4. Becca 22 March, 2013

    Gorgeous photos – looks fun!

  5. Kate @Wild Tales of... 22 March, 2013

    Love the vibrant colors in all your photos. My husband and I did this hike (before our little one came along), and loved the experience! I’m impressed by your kids & hope Bergen will be up to their speed someday! I can definitely understand why they wanted to get down to the crater!

  6. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} 25 March, 2013

    That’s wonderful that your kids were excited to do this hike. We hit Devastation Trail at the end of the day, so my kids didn’t have enough oomph left in them to continue on to this one. It looks fabulous.

    • Amber 29 April, 2013

      LOL, I remember that mtanra: This is fun, I AM having fun, I’m never doing this again, but I am having FUN, my feet hurt, my muscles ache and I’m drenched in sweat, but this is SO much fun The funny thing was that once the body aches subsided and I looked back at the experience, I did have fond memories. Enjoy your hike, Toby! (why am I suspecting that your next book will involve a rigorous hike??)

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  9. Monica 9 August, 2015

    Great information! I want to take my children 8, 6 and 4 on this hike when we visit again in October…thank you for the inspiration. How long did it take you to finish? Do you suggest an early morning start? Thanks again for your help!