Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is gigantic. It’s over 200,000 acres, and half of that lies in the park’s Kahuku unit accessible from the South Point/Ocean View area, currently only open from 9:00am-3:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays due to park budgetary restrictions.
If you’re passing through on a weekend, or are staying in the Ka’u area and just want to get a quick taste of what the Kahuku Unit has to offer, Pu’u o Lokuana Cinder Cone is the ideal hike. At only 0.4 miles long, it’ll take you less than 30 minutes to circle the cone and walk into the historic cinder quarry from the north. During WWII there was a secret radar station located here, remnants of which still remain. Cinder was quarried from this cone during WWII for use on roads all throughout the area. Today the quarry presents a steep red cliff face with visible belts of orange and brown cinder created by numerous eruptions over the years.
You can continue up the steep grassy path that leads to the top of the cinder cone for a spectacular 360 degree view of Kahuku, Lower Ka’u, and the Ka Lae (South Point) areas. On a clear day you can see Kahuku’s upland Koa forests, shrouded in mist buffering the jagged sharp edged black lava fields. To the immediate south you can see the buildings remaining from Kahuku Ranch, now converted into housing and offices for the national park. Around the cinder cone the grass is thick and lush. You can return to the road via your original path or climb down the hill through the grass. This is just one hike of many in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Kahuku Unit.
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