Pu’u Pua’i

GPS recording available here: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/hawaii-county-hiking-8ab7f71

Elevation Gain: 63m
Distance: 1.46km
Total Time: 20 minutes
Date: December 20th, 2021

Pu’u Pua’i is a recent, geologically speaking, cinder cone formation that’s situated between two massive craters in the Volcano National Park. From a prominence perspective, it barely boasts 40m, but it’s a named objective so might as well do it.

My mom and I happened to be visiting Volcano National Park and had just finished walking through the Thurston Lava Tubes. The weather was rather chaotic with gusts of wind and rain hampering any long walks or hikes. After the lava tubes we were wondering what to do next and that’s when I saw there was the attainable ‘summit’ of Pu’u Pua’i on the other side of the Kilauea-Iki crater. We drove around the crater on a paved road until we reached parking spot for the Pu’u Pua’i overlook.

Pu’u Pua’i from across the Kilauea-Iki crater

From the parking lot, we walked a brief distance along a paved path and then cut directly up the flanks of Pu’u Pua’i. The terrain was totally foreign to me with large cracks cutting through the slopes; not unlike glaciated terrain. As the summit only stood about 40m higher than the parking lot it took all of 5 minutes to reach the top. We were careful to jump over the cracks although they appeared filled in just a few feet below.

A rainbow across the crater to start the journey
Paved path to begin with
Looking up the slopes of Pu’u Pua’i. The true summit is the left most point
Cracks/crevices everywhere
Almost to the top. There appears to be a foot path already in place
Looking towards the Kilauea crater
Looking down at that low point
The cracks were quite deep in some places
Summit panorama

The summit gave us awesome views of both Kilauea-Iki crater and the massive crater of Kilauea itself. Descending was just as easy as the ascent and within 5 minutes we were back on the paved path and heading for the car. Given the high level of volcanic activity in this area, I wonder how long Pu’u Pua’i will remain in its current state. A cool high point to reach all around.