Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs

1 review #8 hike out of 27 in
1.2 mi
43 min
33 ft
Elev Gain


This is a easy out and back trail to Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

With over 23,000 petroglyphs, these are the most carvings ever found in a designated area than any other place in the Hawaiian Islands proving this site sacred to the Hawaiians. Much of the land has been covered from a fairly recent eruption (1969-1974) which you will notice when looking up to the cliffs and gazing slightly west. These petroglyphs are threatened by future eruptions of Kilauea.

There is evidence of previous life on this barren lava flow. Besides the thousands of carvings, there are canoe plants, rock structures that were once foundations for homes as well as ancient gardening plots.

The inhabitants of this area moved away in 1886 when a massive tsunami swept across this coastline. Any survivors moved towards south point or east relocating in Kalapana.

Getting Started

This hike begins at the Pu’u Loa trailhead which is roughly 20 miles from the Kilauea Visitor Center. Allow 40 minutes in drive time and be on the lookout for the rare native nene geese along the road. Please do not feed the wild birds.

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    2 years, 1 month ago
    Pu‘u = hill Loa = long Pu‘uloa = "Long Hill" Underlying meaning or kaona (hidden meaning) = "Hill of Long Life" Puʻuloa is a very sacred and religious place for many of the people of Hawaiʻi and has been used ritually for over 500 years. It is the largest petroglyph field in the state. There are more then 23,000 petroglyph images, mostly poho (cupules, or depressions) in which a portion of the umbilical cord of a newborn was placed to ensure a long life. Motifs of circles, other geometric designs, as well as cryptic designs of human representations known as anthropomorphisms, canoe sails, and even feathered cape motifs can all be found in this dense concentration. The petroglyphs are accessible via a day hike of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip that begins at the Puʻuloa Petroglyphs trailhead. Pu‘uloa is a "volcanic pressure dome" that was formed during the eruption of Kāne Nui O Hamo about 550 years ago.
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Public Tracks

Josh 8 years ago
Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs Hike at Volcanoes National Park
Quick out - and - back to a boardwalk around some petroglyphs. Getting there was about .75 miles across a fun to navigate lava field!
herdina 2 years, 4 months ago
daveholland 3 years ago
reynolds331 3 years, 10 months ago
aaron 4 years, 6 months ago
djanderso 6 years, 8 months ago
nickburlett 6 years, 11 months ago
helenarc 7 years, 6 months ago