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Hilina Pali Overlook
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Hilina Pali

The park is more than just the volcanoes. There is opportunity to get out into country where you will see few if any people and have the world to yourself for a day. Usually this pursuit carries with it the price of having to exerting a little physical effort. But if you are up to it the rewards are great.

Facilitating your escape to the back country are nicely marked trails and excellent roads to the trailheads. One such road that you will find on the map is the Hilina Pali road which after nine miles driving off the main park highway brings you to this overlook. You see in this shot the wonderful Ka'aha Bay far below.

Hilina Pali Trail

The trail on down the pali is a vertical affair requiring good footwear. You will find in places that the trail is loosely packed lava rocks so be prepared for a little skiing. Uphill is a different matter and it is easy to choose your footing such that no sliding occurs. It will tax your endurance a little though.

This picture is typical of the switchback trail that takes you by mechanical disadvantage to the bench floor of the pali some 1,500 feet below. It is then another gradual 780 feet to the coast if my arithmetic holds, since they measure the trailhead at the pali top at 2,280 feet above sea level.

The Pali

As you are hiking on down the trail, take a good look at the crumbling roundish lava stones that you are treading. I call them stones rather generously I fear since should you have the opportunity to immerse one of them in water, I believe they would float.

Anyhow, imagine that the whole mountainside which you are (a)descending is composed of the same material. It becomes easy then to understand that this whole pali structure was built, or rather razed, by a sudden collapse that we must have heard in Africa, where I think we all were at the time.

Hilina Pali Overlook

Take a gander on down the Ka'u coast towards Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States. Hilina Pali overlook affords you the delightful opportunity to view a full 180 degrees of coastline unmolested by man (I think).

If you ever wanted to travel back in time and discover how people carried on and got about a hundred years ago, it is not too great a stretch of the imagination to get there from here.

As recently as 1950, by way of example, people regularly traveled the southern Kona coast astride mules over terrain and on trails not much different than this. They called it "bray power".

Hilina Pali Shelter

If you have hiked all the way down to the shore (like I did), and discovered that your knees hurt you on the way down (like I did), and managed to get blisters on both feet from the enterprise (like I did), and turned around and trekked the switchbacks, that were not so numerous on the way down (like I did), and then wondered if your body would outlast the climb and if you would ever see your car, indeed civilization again, (like I did) . . .

. . . then when this vision (the Hilina Pali shelter) comes within your purvey, you will truly know the meaning of paradise!