With the Kilauea Iki and Devastation trails “in the bag,” so to speak, I was eager to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park even more. Puu Huluhulu was the next trail on my list. Translated, Puu Huluhulu means “hairy hill.” To the south of Puu Huluhulu is Mauna Ulu, which is a large shield volcano that erupted from May 24, 1969 to July 24, 1974. Legend suggests that this major eruption was a show of force from Pele’s brother, Keoʻahikamakaua, the spirit of molten fountains. We would hike through the remnants of the Mauna Ulu eruption to the top of Puu Huluhulu.
Access to the Puu Huluhulu trailhead is located at the very end of the Mauna Ulu parking lot. As with the other trails in the park, keep an eye out for the various trail signs. This trailhead also serves as junctions for other trails, like the Napau Trail. Once on the trail, keep an eye out for the ahu (stacked rocks) and numbered ground markers. These landmarks will serve as your trail markers. I should note that there is another trail identically named Puu Huluhulu. The other Huluhulu trail maintained by Na Ala Hele  and is not the one described here. The park also offers a trail guidebook for Puu Hululu (titled Mauna Ulu). It’s $2 and I’d suggest picking one up .We enjoyed stopping at each of the numbered markers and then referring back to the guidebook for details.
The rain began to fall only a few minutes into our hike. It’s a good thing that we came prepared with rain jackets. The couple that creeped up behind us weren’t as prepared. While were putting on our jackets, they quickly shuffled passed us. The wife quipped to her husband, “see honey, they came prepared.” I’m glad that we came prepared because the rain would be on and off throughout this short hike.
Between markers 2 and 3 is the location of a part of the fissure eruption that began on the morning of May 24, 1969. Along the trail, you can see Mauna Ulu in the distance. Imagine what it was like 1969, when the fountains of spewing lava reached peaks of up to 1,770 feet high. That’s taller than the Empire State building. As you walk past markers 4-12, observe the A’a lava field. You’ll also notice interesting tall structures, lava trees, and remnants of airborne lava fragments. These fragments include cinders, Pele’s tears, reticulite, and Pele’s hair. Resist taking any of these items home as souvenirs, unless Pele’s Curse is something you’d like to go home with. Snopes even indicates the curse as being true. If you need more convincing, then read this Los Angeles Times article about Timothy Murray, or this Honolulu Advertiser article about Lori Stearman. So how do you prevent yourself from being cursed by Pele for all of eternity? Don’t take anything volcanic related home with you as souvenirs .
As we reached the terminus of Puu Huluhulu, we were rejoined by the couple that had passed us earlier trying to beat the falling rain. The rain did indeed stop for a bit, allowing for a great view of Puu O’o, Kāne nui o Hamo lava shield, Makaopuhi crater, and Alae lava shield. Our time at the Puu Huluhulu lookout was cut short, because the rain started to fall furiously once again. We put our bright blue rain jackets back on and made our way out of the forest and back on to the crater floor path. I usually despise rain during hikes, however, I didn’t mind it so much this time around. In many ways, it enhanced the experienced for me and, well, it gave Michelle a reason to try out her new rain jacket.
Puu Huluhulu Trail Tips:
- Do not collect or disturb natural, cultural, or historical features of the trail.
- Take only photographs and inspiration, leave only footprints and goodwill.
Directions to the Puu Huluhulu Trailhead: After entering the main entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, turn left and continue on to Chain of Craters Road. Keep an eye out for the Mauna Ulu parking lot as indicated by a sign on Chain of Craters Road. The trailhead for Puu Huluhulu is located at the very end of the parking lot.
1. This is not the Na Ala Hele maintained Puu Huluhulu trail. That trail is located at junction of Saddle Road (Hwy 200) and Mauna Loa Observatory access road.
2. Sand counts too.