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.
Living with active volcanoes about is made a bit easier if they are properly monitored. The entire island of Hawai‘i is liberally equipped with sensors of various types… Seismographs, tiltmeters, GPS stations, cameras, and gas monitors.
I came across one of these last instruments on a recent visit to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the new Kahuku Unit at the south end of the island. While walking in the gorgeous natural scenery of the park, this engineer was instantly attracted to a spindly frame of tubes standing in an old corral.
The Kahuku Cross Fence station is part of the NPS maintained Hawaii SO2 Network with stations throughout the park. The data is provided to rangers and posted on the park website to advise visitors of volcanic gas hazards while visiting the volcanoes.