Iliahi Trail

Iliahi Trail Gives Hikers Firsthand Observations of An Active Volcano
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Iliahi Trail is a 1.4-mile out-and-back trail in the Volcanoes National Park that is ranked moderate with an elevation gain of 262 feet. The eruption of Kilauea in 2018 resulted in the National Park Services closing Iliahi. Still, hikers have reported you can walk a portion of the trail. Even if closed, the Iliahi Trail is worth visiting since it connects with other trails in the park.

- The Local Expert Team

Hiking the Iliahi Trail is an excellent experience for adventurers of all ages and abilities, giving you an up-close experience of how flora and fauna coexist around the active volcano Kilauea. 

Iliahi is Hawaiian for the sandalwood tree, which grows in abundance on this out-and-back trail. Additionally, you’ll walk past other rainforest flora that flourishes in the area. The hike is 1.4 miles, has an elevation gain of 262 feet, is considered moderate by experienced trekkers, and will take approximately 41 minutes to complete.  

Since Iliahi Trail is part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there is a fee per vehicle to enter, so check with the National Park Services for rates and updates. Parking is at the visitor’s center, and you’ll find the start of the trail across the street and to the right of the Volcano House Hotel. 

In 2018, Kilauea erupted, and the National Park Services closed Iliahi Trail. However, recent hikers have posted reviews stating that you can gain access to the trail but can’t complete the entire route. Since we don’t know when Iliahi Trail will reopen, we will present you with as much information as possible so that when it does, you’ll be ready! But before we go any further, we want to inform you of the trail’s current condition.

While researching this hike, we learned an important lesson: ensure you’re investigating Iliahu Trail and not Iliahi Trail Ridge. Not only are these two completely different hikes, but they are also on two separate islands!

The Iliahi Trail is well-maintained, and the iliahi trees provide some shade. Still, visitors urge hikers to bring extra water as it can be sweltering. At times, you’ll have views of the crater and Mauna Loa. Additionally, gases rich in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide will emanate from the fissures here and there.  

If you’re feeling adventurous and up to the task, the Iliahi Trail connects to other trails in the Volcanoes National Park. 

Sulphur Banks Trail, also known as Haakulamanu, is .7 miles long and is on the opposite side of the road to the Iliahi Trail. This hike leads adventurers along the moon-like surface where volcanic gasses are abundant. You’ll also see the colorful gas deposits on the surrounding stone and lava, along with various birds. 

Crater Rim Trail is an easy day hike that traverses one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The distance varies as it intersects other trails like Iliahi, which gives hikers plenty of options. 
Whichever hike you opt for, bring plenty of water and food. You’ll also want to be prepared for the extreme weather that can change in the blink of an eye. Hikers may experience stiff winds, scorching sun, and driving rain, so pack accordingly and always have a backup plan. 

While exploring the cliffs, steam vents, and other anomalies in the park may be tempting, stay on the marked trails. These areas can be slippery and unstable, and climbing or walking on them could lead to severe injuries. 

While we don’t know how long Iliahi Trail will remain closed, there are other trails in the Volcanoes National Park to trek, making the visit worthwhile. You’ll see firsthand the devastation caused by the 2018 eruption and take in breathtaking views of steam vents, colorful deposits, exotic birds, and, of course, the active volcano, Kilauea.

Insider Tip:
Thermal gases from the steam vents can cause respiratory distress. If you have heart and lung conditions, are pregnant, or traveling with young children, you should reconsider hiking Iliahi Trail.