The National Parks Service has announced the closure of two hiking trails in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park due to the possibility of eruption. The Mauna Iki Trail and part of the Kaʻū Desert/Footprints Trail are currently closed due to "episodic unrest" near the Kīlauea caldera.
According to a report on Thursday from the USGS, Kīlauea is not erupting, but the area south/southwest of the summit has been showing signs of unrest since early October.
"The summit of Kīlauea remains at a high level of inflation and eruptive activity is possible in the coming weeks or months," states the report.
Kīlauea erupted nearly continuously from 1983 to 2018, resulting in widespread damage and park closures. Since 2018, it has erupted twice, in 2020 and 2021, both times within the Halemaʻumaʻu crater, boiling off a water lake and replacing it with a lava lake 751 ft deep.
“Safety is always our top priority, and the potential hazards in this region are significant and could include elevated volcanic gases, dangerous lava activity, and damaging earthquakes with very little notice,” says Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh in a news release.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is unique among US National Parks because of the two active volcanoes within its boundaries: Kilauea and Mauna Loa, the latter of which is the largest shield volcano on the planet. Eruptions tend to increase visitation, but in 2022, the park closed the summit of Mauna Loa weeks ahead of its historic summit eruption in November and were able to eliminate the need for search and rescue missions.
Park visitors are urged to plan ahead and check the park website for any closure or hazard alerts at www.nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes.
Hiking at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and you see why few things in nature inspire as much awe as witnessing the raw power of a volcano. Kilauea and Mauna Loa release dense, flowing lava through multiple cracks and craters, which flow like rivers of burning, melting rock. Many of these rivers end up flowing into the ocean, where you can witness dramatic displays of the lava meeting the cold seawater, resulting in massive plumes of steam. The park has some 150 miles of hiking trails including the 11-mile trail around the rim of Kilauea. Read more in our article on hiking volcanoes.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.