Day Hike - Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs at Pu‘u Loa

NPS Photo

Visitors look at petroglyphs from the boardwalk
The boardwalk viewing platform protects the petroglyphs from damage.

NPS Photo

Pu'u Loa Trail

Walk in the footsteps of the kūpuna (elders) to Pu`u Loa (hill of long life), a sacred and awe-inspiring gallery of ki`i pohaku (images carved in stone). These simple etchings document the life and culture of the native Hawaiian people and spiritually, cradle the piko (umbilical cord) of their children. It brought with hopes of receiving the blessings of a long and prosperous life.

Of interest: This coastal trail traverses a 500-550 year old lava field to one of Hawai`i's most extensive petroglyph fields. A site that has approximately 23,000 petroglyphs, many viewable at a boardwalk constructed for this purpose.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance and hiking time: 1.4 miles (2.25km) round trip. Approximately 1.0 - 1.5 hours.
  • Distance from Visitor Center to trailhead: 19.6 miles (31.5km).
  • Trail begins: Pu'u Loa parking area on Chain of Craters Road.
  • Bring: Water, food, hat, sunscreen and rain gear. Be prepared for hot, dry, wet, windy weather conditions.
The petroglyphs are very fragile. Stay on the boardwalk. Walking on the lava surface will fragment the delicate petroglyphs and destroy them.

View a 3 1/2 minute vitual slideshow of a Ranger Guided Hike at Pu`u Loa


For more information about this special area, visit our History and Culture section for the article: Pu`u Loa Petroglyphs by Mara Durst

Last updated: September 13, 2018

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