Hiking trail reopens, a year and a half after Kilauea's eruptions and 60,000 quakes

The newly repaired Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reopened Sept. 21.


By MARY FORGIONE | Los Angeles Times | Published: October 16, 2019

The popular Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently fully reopened, a year and a half after Kilauea erupted and more than 60,000 quakes rattled the volcano's summit. The shaking last year damaged much of the park, including the popular four-mile loop from the rim of a crater to its floor. Now visitors will see something new along the way: large boulders that tumbled down during the seismic shaking, a park release says.

The trail starts out in lush forest and gives way to the sparse floor of the crater, which in 1959 was a "seething lava lake, with lava fountains up to 1,900 feet high," according to the park's website. Hikers now walk on hardened lava where decades later there's still a hot rock that steams on the surface.

Part of the trail reopened in April; the full trail reopened Sept. 21 after final repairs were completed. Work crews from the nonprofit Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and other national park workers helped make repairs.

It's all part of the park's slow recovery from the eruption that forced the park to close for an unprecedented 134 days in 2018.

Some of the park's features were forever changed. The bubbling lava lake within Halemaumau Crater near the summit disappeared after lava was sucked underground, and the crater doubled in size. The park's Jaggar Museum, which contained geologic and cultural artifacts, sits precariously close to the newly formed rim.

The building was so severely damaged it may never reopen. Museum exhibits may be relocated to Pahoa, a town near the park.

Outside the park, more than 700 homes in a neighborhood called the Puna District were destroyed by the wall of lava from the volcano.

A massive boulder on the newly reopened Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.