(BIVN) – A wilderness trail on the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano that was previously closed due to volcanic activity is now open to hikers once again.
On Thursday, park officials reopened Nāpau Crater and a two-mile section of trail leading to the base of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent. The vent itself remains closed.
“We are excited to reopen more of the park to backpackers now that Kīlauea is quiet and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent is no longer an eruption hazard,” said Acting Superintendent Rhonda Loh. “Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent will remain closed due to its steep and unstable flanks, but hikers will be able to walk right up to its base,” she said.
According to the National Park Service:
Previously, Nāpau Trail meandered seven miles through geologically rich wilderness festooned with volcanic craters, historic eruption sites, a primitive tree fern factory, and ended at Nāpau Crater Overlook. From the overlook, hikers could watch the then-active Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption, and camp nearby. The reopened trail and crater will extend another two miles past the campground, making the hike across Nāpau Crater to the base of the vent nine miles one-way.
Other features on the moderately difficult hike include native rainforest, and fragile, fascinating lava tree molds. There is no water available at the campground, and all overnight camping requires a backcountry permit. Because of its remote location, day hikers on Nāpau Trail must sign in at the trailhead near the Mauna Ulu parking lot.
Today’s announcement is part of the ongoing disaster recovery at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, which sustained serious damage between April 30 and Aug. 4, 2018. Over 60,000 earthquakes shook the summit area. The end of the 35 year eruption of Kilauea this past September is also affording the park an opportunity to reopen sections that have been off-limits to the public for a long time.