I have been informed by the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge that
the Crater Hill Hike has been suspended indefinitely.|
Makai Guy, 11 April 2003
|The Crater Hill nature walk begins at the Kilauea Light House section of the Hawaiian Island National Wildlife Sanctuary. This free, naturalist-led hike climbs the high hill to the east of Kilauea Point.|
When we took this hike in October, a number of the summer species were not present, but we were treated to the sight of red footed boobies roosting in the ironwood trees. The ornithological treat of the hike, however, was the opportunity to view several nesting pairs of nene (nay-nay) geese. This handsome species is found only in the Hawaiian Islands, where it has been declared the state bird. The nene is being carefully tended in sanctuaries such as this one, and its numbers are now rebounding from a decline to dangerous levels.
As we climb to the top of the hill we reach an overlook where we can finally understand why this is called Crater Hill. This peak is the remnant of a volcanic cone, the makai (seaward) side of which was blown out and eroded away long ago. The remaining walls of the crater present steep and tall cliffs to the ocean. Hold onto your hat here, as the winds are fierce, but add some refreshing cooling to an otherwise hot hike.
A little further on, and we come across some abandoned World War
II concrete fortifications.
All good things must come to an end, and eventually we descend the hill to return to our starting point. As we climb down we are treated to a different perspective of Kilauea Lighthouse and bird-encrusted Mokuaeae Island off the end of the Kilauea Point.
The Crater Hill Hike is a popular activity on the North Shore. This daily hike begins shortly after the sanctuary is opened to visitors each morning. Only a limited number of people are taken on this hike, so if you are interested, get your names in early. You can phone ahead to reserve a place on the list (808-828-1413).