Puu Oo Trail

Puu Oo Trail

6.500 Feet Elevation, 7.4 Miles

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Activity: Pedestrian, Equestrian

Route: This trail passes over lava flows of 1855 and 1881 through brush, grasslands and native forests. Option include returning via the Powerline Road and end up about 0.5 miles closer to Hilo.

The area is shrouded in fog on a frequent basis and can be difficult to follow. Be prepared for weather conditions to change quickly and become very cold. Parking is very limited.

Location: On Saddle Road (Hwy 200) 22.4 miles from Hilo.

Caution: Hunting is allowed year-around. Wear bright clothing for safety.

The trail heads south through pioneer ‘ohi’a (Metrosideros polymorpha) forest, brush and grassland in the direction of Volcano Village. It passes over the 1855 & 1881 lava flows and through several kipuka (pockets of forest surrounded by lava) of mixed native species and older koa (Acacia koa). Hikers may return by way of Powerline Road, a hunter access road which intersects the trail at the 3.7 mile point and rejoins Daniel K. Inouye Highway about 0.5 mi. closer to Hilo.

An interesting nature hike through a variety of mostly native vegetation, Pu’u ‘o’o Trail offers birders the opportunity to see ‘i’iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), ‘amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens), ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis), ‘oma’o (Myadestes obscurus), ‘io (Buteo solitarius), ‘akiapola’au (Hemignathus wilsoni) and n?n? (Branta sandvicensis). It was pioneered by early cattle ranchers to drive their stock to embarkation points on the coast. Rain, fog and cool temperatures are common.

Hiking Safety Tips

  • STAY ON MARKED TRAILS! Vegetation or cinders may hide deep cracks in the ground. Use caution near cliffs, cracks, and steam vents. The edges of these features are unstable and can be slippery. Keep your children safe. Hiking over cracks and holes, loose rock, and thin lava crust greatly increases your risk of getting hurt. Falling on lava may result in severe wounds.
  • WEAR STURDY SHOES AND LONG LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING PANTS (falling on lava is like falling on broken glass).
  • CARRY AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. No matter how short your hike or brief your stay, bring more sunscreen and water than you think you’ll need. Recommended: 2 liters of water per person, per day. Hawaii’s strong tropical sun can cause serious dehydration.
  • AVOID HIKING AFTER DARK (cracks, crevasses, and cliffs look like shadows – depth is not evident in the dark).
  • Always hike or camp with another person.
  • Bring a cell phone.
  • Do not drink untreated stream or lake water.
  • Always be prepared for rain. Rainstorms can roll in with surprising speed.
  • Have warm clothes on hand. At elevations above 1,000 feet (and even on windy beaches), nighttime temperatures can drop by at least 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the elevation, the colder it will be.
  • Carry bug spray. Mosquitoes can be thick even on breezy beaches.
  • Abide by posted signs and stay on the trail.
  • Always obtain the proper permits to hike or camp.
  • If you are a novice hiker, consider arranging a hiking tour with an activity/attractions tour provider

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