Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been growing. A few years back the park service purchased much of the old Kahuku Ranch and a couple years ago opened this new unit to the public. Like the main area of the park the Kahuku unit is also a product of the eruptions that shape the island, yet with a totally different character.
There is an extensive trail system through the new unit, the old ranch roads converted to walking trails. In addition to the ranching history a visitor can explore the volcanic landscape
On our recent visit we walked one of the easiest trails in the park, the Palm Trail. This two mile loop trail starts near the visitor station and crosses both recent lava flows and rich forested kipukas. Along the way passing relics of ranch history, fences, gates, and an enigmatic diamond D carved into the rock.
In early February the ohia were in bloom, splashing the lava fields with bright red. The dwarf ohia found on the recent flows are natural bonsai as lovely as any garden. Ripe ʻŌhelo berries were to be found here and there, and pūkiawe shrubs dots the rugged rock. Views stretch from the sea to far up the flank of Mauna Loa towards the summit.
There is more for us to explore at Kahuku, definitely need to plan another day of hiking around this park unit.