You’ll usually hear Hawaii’s Massive Island described as one of many “youngest” locations on this planet. That’s as a result of new earth is continually being fashioned as lava flows, cools, and hardens. However whereas the Massive Island could also be a “younger” vacation spot, there’s undoubtedly a whole lot of outdated soul in and round its Lava Tree State Monument.

On this outstanding old-growth forest, you possibly can nonetheless see the blemishes and battle wounds from 1790, when a mighty lava eruption steamrolled its manner via the world. The fast-moving lava enveloped the timber. When the lava made contact with the cool, moist bark, casts of hardened lava fashioned across the tree trunks. And when the preliminary surge of lava subsided, the casts of those tree trunks remained, a ghostly reminder of the once-impressive timber that had dominated the forest.

Lava trees at Lava Tree State Monument in the Puna District of the Big Island, Hawaii
Ralf Broskvar /

Lava timber are sometimes mistaken for petrified wooden, and the confusion is comprehensible. They do look comparable. However the facilities of lava tree trunks are hole; the natural matter burned away in the course of the lava circulate. What you’re seeing shouldn’t be petrified wooden, however the form of wooden that when was, preserved for eternity in hardened lava. Should you look fastidiously inside a hollowed-out lava tree (don’t contact it!), you possibly can see the imprint of the bark, nearly just like the tree left its personal handprint contained in the lava that in the end took its life.

Lava Tree State Monument, additionally known as Lava Tree State Park, is situated on the southeast aspect of the Big Island, simply 3 miles from the city of Pahoa. Right here’s what it is best to know earlier than you go.

Lava tree at Lava Tree State Monument.
Ralf Broskvar /

There’s A lot Extra To See Than Lava Timber 

After studying about how lava timber are fashioned, you would possibly suppose that the whole space is nothing however darkish, sooty, eerie varieties. However Lava Tree State Monument is definitely a extremely fairly park! Subsequent to the charcoal-colored lava timber, you’ll see delicate ferns and flowers. You’ll spot orchids, birds, and large blossoms all over the place you look. The complete park is a testomony to the ability of nature in so some ways. You’ll see new plant development masking hardened lava and large root methods which have lately toppled over. All the things right here is continually evolving — dwelling, dying, and being reborn.

The Park Is Massive, However The Loop Is Small

Whereas Lava Tree State Monument is massive (17 acres in complete), a lot of this house is dedicated to ecological preservation. Guests can discover through the Lava Tree Trail, a 0.7-mile path that loops from the primary parking zone. It’s paved, effectively marked, and simple to comply with. Leashed canine are welcome.

Lava molds of the tree trunks that were formed when a lava flow swept through a forested area in Lava Tree State Monument on the Big Island of Hawaii, USA
MNStudio /

It’s Vital To Keep On The Path

In nearly any park, you’ll see indicators urging guests to stay to the trail. At Lava Tree State Monument, this isn’t only a suggestion. There are fastidiously camouflaged cracks within the earth that may significantly injure unsuspecting explorers. That is one place the place avoiding the proverbial street much less traveled is great recommendation.

It’s A Terrific Deal

What makes Lava Tree State Monument such a great deal? It’s free! There isn’t any admission price, and there are not any parking prices. It’s additionally open 24 hours a day, which is nice for vacationers who’re passing via late within the day or those that are desperate to squeeze in a single final attraction early within the morning earlier than they go away. However whereas it might be pretty to look at the solar set within the park, there’s actually no purpose to be there after darkish. A go to is all about seeing the flora, which you’ll clearly solely do by daylight.

The Climate Is Unpredictable

Hawaii’s Massive Island has fantastic climate, however it does err on the aspect of unpredictability. Simply because it’s sunny in close by Pahoa doesn’t imply that it is going to be in Lava Tree State Monument. Should you journey with a small umbrella or raincoat, carry it alongside. You’ll additionally wish to carry sunscreen, a solar hat (good irrespective of the place you’re in Hawaii), and durable sneakers. The trail is in fine condition, however there are muddy and slippery sections. 

Count on Restricted Facilities

Lava Tree State Monument is a small park, and there’s not a lot you want aside from a willingness to discover. However it’s price noting that the facilities listed below are restricted to washrooms, picnic tables below a pavilion, a parking zone, and a few interpretive indicators and knowledge panels. There’s no reward store, meals providers, and even employees. Carry alongside your personal water bottles and snacks.

Some Parts Are Accessible

Lava Tree is ADA accessible — in principle. In 2018, work was scheduled to enhance sections of the primary paved loop to reinforce accessibility. However these plans have been interrupted when the necessity to restore earthquake harm arose. Fortunately, the 2 tasks overlapped considerably, and the efforts to revive elements of the park post-earthquake included renovating a number of the path for everybody’s profit. Nevertheless, it’s price noting that there’s a lot room for enchancment. As an example, tree roots have precipitated sections of the trail to crack and elevate.

Lava Tree State Monument, Hawaii.
norinori303 /

Don’t Skip The Museum

Lava is far more than a geological phenomenon to the individuals who reside in and round Pahoa. Current lava eruptions have introduced great heartbreak, misplaced properties, and misplaced companies. They’ve additionally introduced scientific inquiry, non secular reflection, and group development. You’ll be able to be taught in regards to the many sides of dwelling with lava on the Pahoa Lava Zone Museum. This excellent new museum additionally homes artifacts from the now-closed Jaggar Museum, which was a preferred attraction at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

There’s A Nice Espresso Spot Close by

Should you want a memorable caffeine repair after you discover, you’ll discover it within the city of Pahoa. Sirius Coffee is so small that you simply would possibly miss it if you happen to’re not paying consideration. This tiny espresso store and web cafe provides espresso-based drinks and occasional comprised of Hawaiian-grown coffee beans. Attempt the Sirius Mocha together with your alternative of orange or mint flavoring. You’ll additionally discover all the opposite espresso store favorites, together with smoothies, tea, and baked items, plus a free lending library. (Observe that this small house doesn’t have a washroom.)

There’s additionally a laundromat — the delightfully named Suds ’n Duds — simply behind the neighboring constructing. Should you received muddy whereas exploring Lava Tree State Monument, that is the place you’ll wish to be!

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH /

The place Else Can You See Lava Timber?

Simply because there’s a volcanic eruption doesn’t imply there are going to be lava timber. They solely kind below very exact circumstances, which is why they’re so uncommon. They’re additionally delicate ecosystems, topic to being broken in future eruptions, being eliminated for farming and improvement, and being taken as souvenirs. Not surprisingly, they’re among the many most uncommon and hard-to-find ecological phenomena on this planet. 

You’ll be able to see lava timber on the close by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park has a number of lava timber, in addition to some lava tree molds. Tree molds happen in the identical manner as lava timber, however the last circulate of lava by no means subsides. As a substitute, you possibly can see the mildew of the tree by trying down into the hardened lava. The park can also be residence to lava tubes, pure conduits the place the lava as soon as flowed beneath the hardened floor.
Lava timber are additionally situated across the base of Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Etna in Italy (the place they’re often known as “cannon stones”).

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