Exploring Ha‘akulamanu Via The Sulphur Banks Trail

The Sulphur Banks Trail is a short, easy hike, that is accessible just down the road from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center. This would be the final hike that Michelle and I would do during our stay at the park. The trail is in an area known as Haakulamanu, which means gathering place for birds, and is filled with steaming rocks and vibrant mineral deposits. Years ago, native Hawaiian species like the nene and kolea, would flock to Haakulamanu, likely attracted to the underlying thermal field on which the sulphur banks exist.

The sulphur banks are considered to be located within Kilauea Caldera. Over 500 years ago, Kilauea’s summit collapsed, causing the formation of the sulphur banks located on a terrace between the inner and outer caldera walls. Prior to 2005, the Sulphur Banks Trail was actually accessible by car. You could drive through the area and see the steaming vents that way. However, that ended in 2005 when the National Park Services decided that the area would be reforested in order to prevent further damage to the already fragile site.

If you’ve got some free time, or looking for a filler hike during your stay at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then I’d suggest that you check out the Sulphur Banks Trail. The trail itself is way too short to be considered a day hike. Instead, it’s probably best done following a hike through Kilauea Iki or Puu Huluhulu. Or, do like we did and save it for your last day following breakfast at the Volcano House.

Explorers: Coty Gonzales and Michelle Sagucio.

From the Visitor Center, follow the signs to the Sulphur Banks Trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

From the Visitor Center, follow the signs to the Sulphur Banks Trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Walk past the uluhe fern. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Walk past the uluhe fern. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Hello. Photo by Michelle Sagucio.

Hello. Photo by Michelle Sagucio.

Hello. Photo by Michelle Sagucio.

Hello. Photo by Michelle Sagucio.

You'll immediately see (and smell) the sulphur banks. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

You’ll immediately see (and smell) the sulphur banks. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

 

Walk on the wooden planks. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Walk on the wooden planks. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Parts of the trail are paved. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Parts of the trail are paved. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The wooden planks are cool though. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The wooden planks are cool though. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Interesting colors and odors. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Interesting colors and odors. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Interesting colors and odors. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Interesting colors and odors. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Wandering. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Wandering. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Cross the road at the end to continue to the Iliahi Trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Cross the road at the end to continue to the Iliahi Trail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.