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Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-895-5740
Two popular hiking trails within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park will reopen for day use on Saturday, August 13, 2011, once new safety signage and hiker registration stations are in place. Park management temporarily closed Naulu and Napau trails August 3, 2011 to evaluate potential hazards caused by a new eruption along the west flank of Kilauea's Pu`u `O`o vent.
Both trails, which originate at points off Chain of Craters Road, will open for day use only, from sunrise to sunset. Napau Campsite, the terminus of the trails, remains closed to overnight campers.
"We closed these two remote east rift zone trails to evaluate their safety for the public, and install signage at the Napau Crater Overlook," said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno. "We've determined it's safe to reopen for public enjoyment during the day; however we will continue to monitor the area closely. Those with respiratory or heart conditions, young children, pregnant women, and the elderly are advised not to attempt these strenuous hikes due to the potential for elevated SO2 levels in the area," Magno said.
Fire management teams are working in the area, using hellicopters to transport crew and equipment. The public should not approach the crew or helicopters, and should stay on trails at all times.
Hikers need to be prepared, and must register at either Kilauea Visitor Center (open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.), or at the newly installed registration boxes, logging their name, cell phone number and start and finish times. The new registration boxes are located at the start of Naulu Trail, and on the Napau Trail between Pu`u Huluhulu and Mauna Ulu. For detailed information about the trails and how to prepare, visit http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/hike_napau.htm .
Napau Trail is a difficult 14-mile round-trip trek that passes through uneven pahoehoe lava flows, Hawaiian rainforests, Pu`u Huluhulu, Mauna Ulu and Makaopuhi Crater. It also affords magnificent views of Napau and Pu`u `O`o craters. H ikers can expect to complete it within six to nine hours. Napau Trail is closed to all entry beyond the Napau Campsite due to unpredictable and dangerous volcanic activity.
Naulu Trail is a challenging 10.4 mile round-trip hike across `a`a lava flows from the Mauna Ulu eruptions and meanders through rainforest. It connects to the napau Trail and offers a shorter route to the Napau Crater Overlook, with uphill elevation gain of approximately 800 feet. Hikers can expect to complete the trail in about 5 1/2 hours. Once at the Napau Crater Overlook, hikers can gaze across the flow field towards Pu`u `O`o. At press time, the lava flow fields in the foreground were 1.5 miles away from the overlook.
Both hikes are backcountry hikes through the Napau Wilderness Area within Kilauea's facinating east rift zone, and are located entirely within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
Scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory closely monitor Kilauea for impending signs of volcanic changes. For eruption updates, visit http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php .