Waldron Ledge Loop via Crater Rim Trail and Kīlauea Iki Trail

4 reviews #6 hike out of 27 in
5.5 mi
2 hrs 53 min
495 ft
Elev Gain


This is a moderate loop trail which begins and ends at the Kilauea Visitor Center which is just inside the entrance of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, first right after you pay the entrance fee.

Follow the signs to the famous Volcano House (one of the oldest hotels in the State).

Take the path that is between the hotel and the caldera while facing the caldera to the left. You’ll be following the edge of the caldera descending down the volcano and hike on what was once a driving road. Sections of the road collapsed into the caldera in 1975, was rebuilt but then collapsed again in 1983 due to strong earthquakes. It is now nicknamed Earthquake trail. In 1/4 mile you’ll veer off to the right to Waldron’s ledge which gives a spectacular view of the collapsed summit of Kilauea, Hawaii’s youngest volcano with Mauna Loa volcano in the background. Both volcanoes still active.

Continue following the road which then turns to trail. Follow the slightly descending trail with the caldera on your right for about 1/2 mile. At the T, take a right onto the Kilauea Iki trail. At each Y, stay left and follow the signs for Kilauea Iki and then to the Nahuku lava tube. Use the crosswalk and stay left circumnavigating Kilauea Iki crater on your left for about 1 1/2 miles until you see the signage for the Volcano House and the Visitor Center the Volcano House. One more mile to go.

The hotel has glass windows from the floor to the ceiling for warmer and drier views along with a fireplace. Uncle George’s bar and restaurant is another iconic stop to add on to this memorable adventure.

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    8 months, 3 weeks ago
    Begin at the Kīlauea Visitor Center: 5.3 miles (8.5 km) round-trip. Plan for approximately 3 to 4 hours. Walk past the vintage Volcano House to take Crater Rim Trail towards Kūpinaʻi Pali (Waldron Ledge) from Kīlauea Visitor Center to access Kīlauea Iki Trail loop. Connections from the Halemaʻumaʻu Trail near the visitor center are also possible. Descend through a lush rainforest to the solidified lava lake on the floor of Kīlauea Iki crater. Peer into the vent that erupted to a height of 1900 feet during the eruption of 1959 located below Puʻupua‘i cinder cone. After 5 or more switchbacks up (about 20 minutes) you’ll cross the road and loop Nahuku lava tube. You’ll hike down into another smaller collapsed crater and walk through a verdant rainforest and listen for the calls of native birds before entering a 500-year old lava tube where a river of 2000 degree fahrenheit (1093° celsius) lava once flowed. Its Hawaiian name, Nāhuku, means "the protuberances," which possibly refers to the lava drippings that once hung from the ceiling. Unfortunately, those disappeared due to souvenir collectors after the tube was discovered in 1913. Entire ecosystems of creatures live in these fragile environments found throughout the Island of Hawaiʻi. Please be respectful and do not touch the walls or any hanging roots. You’ll recross the road back to the sidewalk and hike to the right up a steep but short paved hill then continue looping Kilauea crater on the left till you see the sign veering right for the Kilauea Visitor Center. One more mile to go. The Volcano House is host to the iconic Uncle George’s bar which overlooks the summit caldera and the lava lake when erupting. Worth stopping to emphasize the memorable adventure.
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