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Kilauea Iki Crater
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Kilauea Iki

Just when you think you've seen the whole Kilauea caldera there's more! Kilauea Iki is another large crater pit with proximity and annexation rights claimed by the mighty Kilauea itself. Indeed if you squint hard enough at this picture you might see that great caldera right through the opposing pillars and lo, even that great fire pit home of Pele, Halema'uma'u.

The crater rim trail, from which this picture was taken, is a great way to become acquainted with the whole layout at the summit here. It is highly recommended to hike the entire 11 mile circle if you can.

Rainforest Path

Near the Volcano house in either direction the trail looks much like this. Usually there is a heavy treed canape to foil your attempt to click your camera shutter. But you will learn that the trail changes both frequently and dramatically so you don't really have to be very patient to have your photographic opportunity.

Generally the path around the crater is not worn badly by previous or concurrent interlopers so it is a great place to conclude the composition of your long delayed novel or symphony. Or you might just want to listen to the birds.

The Floor of Kilauea Iki

Here as you round the southern side of Iki you are afforded an excellent view of the bottom quite a long way beneath you. It was here that I first spied a whole army of hikers traveling the white path that you can distinguish in the center. I was jolted because I had considered such an attempt either dangerous or illegal (and probably both).

Not to be outdone, I resolved to return one day to brave this. The crater walk page here is the result.

Kilauea Iki was the premiere spectacle here in 1959 when the whole basin that people now walk was a huge molton lava lake!

Close to the Edge

Here the crater rim trail probably is as close to the edge as it is in many places around the whole circumference. However the stark circumstance of the lack of vegetation here seems to enhance the drama. And when you dare to venture a little closer, you are soon aware in many areas of splits or cracks running parallel to and very near to the precipice. It takes very little common sense to back up to the trail proper for safety.

A complete loop of the whole Kiluaea caldera is 11.6 miles. Since the path is paved and loaded with sights and informative signs along the way, this should be a fantastic day hike that everyone should do!

The Steaming Bluff

If your itinerary doesn't let you walk the whole way around the crater, I suggest you walk the distance from the Volcano House to the Jaggar Museum. If you do you will view an excellent variety of climate and habitat.

Part of the way along the route is the amazing phenomenon of the Steaming Bluff. Inexplicably this bluff tends to be about the highest part of the rim and is on the far side of where you expect the heat to be (if you check the map to see where the active Pu'u'O'o is).

Also along this route is the trail head for the path down into the crater. Even if you do not wish to walk the crater, I strongly recommend taking this path down and back.