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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Getting to Know Hawaii: Lava Tree State Monument

The Need to Knows
  • Lava Tree State Monument is located off of Pahoa-Pohoiki Road (Highway 132), Pahoa, HI 96778.  It's exact location can be found here:
  • The monument is open every day during daylight hours.
  • There are no admission fees and parking is free.
  • Restrooms and trash cans are available for use.
  • There is a paved path through the monument area that is stroller and wheelchair-friendly, although some areas may be obstructed by roots.  Just keep an eye out!
  • You are definitely in jungle here, so mosquito repellent is always a good idea.
  • For the sake of preservation, please remain on the path and do NOT touch the tree molds.  Also be sure to pack out what you bring in!

Lava Tree State Monument is a 17-acre park located in Pahoa that stands as a reminder of the powerful strength of the major force that shaped the Big Island and the other Hawaiian islands: lava.

When the lava flowed through this area in around 1790, it left behind devastation in its wake.  However, it also left behind something pretty unique.  Beautiful 'ohi'a trees grew all over this area, but Kilauea had other plans.  When the flow came through, it buried the trees in 11 feet of molten lava.  The lava actually hardened slightly around the trunks of the trees before the core of the tree burned to ashes from the subsequent heat, leaving behind a hardened "mold" of what used to be an 'ohi'a tree.

As you walk the 0.7-mile pathway through the park, you can see the tree molds everywhere.  It's pretty incredible that they haven't fallen over or been destroyed, although I know Hurricane Iselle did close the park for a while back last year thanks to some fallen live trees.

Kind of looks like a rooster from this angle!  Haha.

Oh, and by the way, see that sign in the picture above?  They aren't kidding when they mention the cracks in the earth -- they can be enormous!

Earth crack right at the entrance close to the parking lot
It's also worth noting to stop and admire the flora and fauna in the area as well.  I found quite a few beautiful specimens on this day, and if this kind of thing floats your boat, you'll love getting up close and personal with nature.

Mr. L and I really enjoyed giving this park a quick tour.  It didn't take us long to walk the loop, maybe around 45 minutes total thanks to taking pictures, but it was really kind of awe-inspiring to witness the power and destruction of Madam Pele up close.  And when a lava flow started coming near this area again just a few months after Mr. L and I visited Pahoa, we began to understand just how much a volcano can permanently impact a community and its citizens.

Have you ever seen the after-effects of lava up close?

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