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Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Seattle, Washington
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Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Hello,

We're leaving for Big Island next week, staying 8 nights in Waikoloa, but last minute decided to book one night in Hilo to have a bit more time at Volcanoes NP and not to drive back in the dark.

With this new plan I expect we'll have time for a two short or one medium hike in Volcanoes in the afternoon and we hope to see lava glow in the evening. Then we'll go to Hilo overnight and could return to the park in the morning for more hiking.

What are the best short hikes you'd recommend (up to 5 miles round trip)? We are experienced hikers and will have curious 11 yo.

I've found next links, but it's hard to make a decision on what to choose:

nps.gov/havo/…20SB_5_08.pdf

nps.gov/havo/…mauna_ulu_trail_guide-1.pdf

Ideally we'd like to see lava glow (not necessarily up close, from the distance would be ok) and interesting lava formations.

Do you have any recommendation for late afternoon medium or two short hikes (we also plan to go to green sand beach in the morning on our way to Volcanoes), and good morning hike.

Thanks,

Anna

Edited: 22 December 2013, 03:44
Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Great idea to stay overnight near VNP.

I wouldn't try to go to Papakolea. First of all, your rental contract prohibits driving down to Ka Lae, and even once you get there, the hike is more than two miles each way and is hot and windy, and would be a terrible idea to do it leaving your luggage in the car. It would also leave you without any time that day to do anything in VNP because it would take you most of the day.

As to VNP hikes, if you get across the Saddle from Waikoloa, you'll arrive fairly early in VNP and can visit the visitors center, Jaggar museum, and the crater rim sites. You should also have time to do the Kilauea Iki hike (which includes Thurstonlava tube). Time depending you could drive down Chain of Craters road and do the Puu Loa petroglyph hike or save that for the next day.

You won't be able to see the glow from Halema'uma'u until after dark, so you won't see that while hiking. You drive up to the Jaggar museum parking lot after dark for the best views.

Time depending you could also do the short Devastation Trail hike.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Thank you very much for advise! I've just discovered another thread with similar question and found info that it's better to use Saddle Road to get to the park faster and spend more time there. I think it makes total sense and gives us more time to explore Volcanoes park and then we can dedicate Day 2 to explore North side of the island.

I think we'll visit green sand beach (we plan to hike there) some other day from Waikoloa.

I booked Fri night (12/27) at Wild Ginger Inn, maybe we can find something interesting in Hilo on Sat morning.

Current 10 days weather forecast for Volcanoes NP is good (although I understand it may change :) ) Looking forward to our trip :)

Thanks!

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

The problem is you are violating your rental contract even just driving down Ka Lae to start the hike to Papakolea. And from Waikoloa it would be a really long day. I think you can do better, for instance hiking to Mo'okini and Kapakai Kokoiki and into Pololu Valley.

Also no way would I stay at Wild Ginger. Look at some options in Volcano. There's a Top Question that covers one night lodging options in Volcano. Kilauea Inn is an excellent choice,

Island of Hawaii...
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4. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

OMG not the Wild Ginger. Whatever is attracting you to tha place?

If you want a budget option, you could look at Dolphin Bay. Sure it costs more, but you donʻt want to stay at the very low end of Hilo lodgings. That includes Uncle Billyʻs and Naniloa as places to stay away from.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

On a such a short notice over holiday season and for one night stay there are not that many options available, and Wild Ginger reviews are not that bad, I was reading those and didn't see many warning signs except for loud frogs, many people complimented the old charm. I booked family room with private bathroom, and really we won't be spending so much time there.

What's wrong with that place in your opinion?

I'll do more research on green sand beach and other options - my son really wants to see it (and me too :) ) and I've read the road to south point was re-paved recently, but anyway I'll try to find more info.

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6. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Re South Point Road -- rental agency needs to allow it, itʻs that simple. The actual condition of the road is irrelevant, because it can take them a while to catch up with changes. When I looked recently (last week or two), the master map for rental car prohibitions had it in red.

It was a 1 to 1 1/2 lane road, unless that has changed, so that someone had to pull over onto the unpaved shoulder each time meeting oncoming traffic. I donʻt know whether that has changed.

Itʻs so windy down there; it is really not pleasant to be outside for very long.

Re Wild Ginger, I donʻt know if they have spruced up the inside, but they canʻt change the location. Itʻs right on the Belt Highway. There is constant traffic on the highway 24 hours a day, which includes a lot of big commercial trucks running at night. I donʻt know how it could not be noisy. I had a house that close to the highway at one time, and it was really loud. I suppose the frogs could be louder than the trucks? If you drive past there with windows down, the shrieking of the frogs is overwhelming, and I live with coqui frogs and have for ten years. I am used to them, but that area is one of the densest infestations I know.

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Well, I would ask them to put you farther away from the highway ...

http://goo.gl/maps/MBRw6

Aerial view from Google maps.

I confess I have a dislike for that run down part of Hilo. In its day it was historic, but now itʻs just kind of slummy.

Maybe the "inn" is upgrading itself now, I will keep an open mind. People I have met who stayed there were longer stay visitors who were kind of bums, not your average visitors. But things can change.

Birmingham, Alabama
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8. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

I would check out the Kilauea iki trail at vnp. Where else can you hike in a volcanic crater?

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Thank you very much for suggestions and hike recommendations!

I think we'll take a risk and stay at Wild Ginger - not that many alternatives available, I think we'll survive :)

Thanks, Anna

Birmingham, Alabama
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10. Re: Best hikes for short Volcanoes NP visit (1 night in Hilo)

Don't know anything about wild ginger. I think Kilauea Lodge would be greats. If that isn't an option we stayed in a place we found on airbnb.com called Rainforest Paradise. It is a house...there is a kitchen and living room that is shared. But only 3 rooms, and I think the caretaker living in one, so chances are you'd have it to yourself. A different experience for sure but it worked for us for one night. It was a mile or two from Kilauea Lodge. Very quiet.