Safety on Trails

All CSAV field courses involve hiking. Wherever you are hiking, it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes, stay on the trail, and carry food, water and first aid. But on the Big Island, hikers need to be even more careful, because there are additional hazards. Some of these are illustrated in this Gallery.

sign warning of volcanic fume hazard. Photo by Trystan Glynn-MorrisPay close attention to signs. This one warns of volcanic fumes, seen in the background, near Halemaumau.

fumes come off of the cooling lava. Photo by Trystan Glynn-MorrisThe fumes in Kilauea Caldera contain sulfur, and are especially hazardous to asthmatics.

Student wearing a gas maskA student wears a gas mask while working near volcanic fumes. Sulfur in the fumes has precipitated and left yellow deposits on the rocks.

railing by steam. Photo by Trystan Glynn-MorrisWithin Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, many dangerous areas have railings to keep visitors safe. Stay behind the railings for your protection.

steam in a crack. Photo by Ulyana HorodyskyjSome cracks are conduits for superheated steam. Stay away from these.

trail sign warns hikers to stay on trail. Photo by Ulyana HorodyskyjSigns throughout the National Park provide helpful safety advice.

broken pahoehoe lava. photo by Pam StewartAlthough aʻa is sharp to walk on, pahoehoe can also be treacherous. Shelly pahoehoe looks smooth on the surface, but breaks under your weight.

hikers standing next to a rock pile It’s always a good idea to have a hiking buddy. You also should let someone know where you are hiking and what time you expect to return.

trail in Kilauea Iki. Photo by Ulyana HorodyskyjMany trails are extremely rough, as they pass through recent lava flows. Stay on the trails; the adjacent areas do not provide secure footing.

sign about the ocean. Photo by Pam StewartSigns near the ocean describe current conditions, and should be taken seriously.

trail by Mauna Ulu. Photo by Trystan Glynn-MorrisPay close attention to your surroundings when you hike.