The End of the Trail
We were fairly disappointed when we reached the end of the trail without seeing any active flows. Signs placed by the Park Service indicated that hikers are not allowed on the flanks of Pu’u O’o due to hazardous conditions, including shelly pahoehoe and numerous cracks and fissures.
Hike Journal - Nāpau Trail - April 26, 2004 - page 2
We explored until 3:00 and then began the hike back across the Napau Crater in a light drizzle.
The Naulu Trail
Two hours and five miles later we reached a junction where the Naulu Trail intersects the Napau Crater Trail. The Naulu Trail leads 3.2 miles to the Kealakomo overlook, which was a shorter alternative to hiking the 5.5 miles back to our starting point. We sent a small group down the trail to drive the one vehicle we left at Kealakomo back to the Mauna Ulu trailhead and pick up the rest of our vehicles.
The Naulu Trail continued through more rain forest and then onto lava flows. We followed more rock cairns, but they were sometimes far apart, requiring us to stop and look around for them.
We reached Chain of Craters Road by 6:30 and walked across the street to the Kealakomo picnic area and parking lot. Wet, muddy, and tired, we concluded our hike after ten hours, almost 20 miles of mud and lava, and countless spectacular views of Makaopuhi, Napau, and Pu’u O’o that were worth every step.
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Last updated: August 15, 2017