Lava Trees

Lava trees at Lava Tree State Park

Lava trees at Lava Tree State Park

If you ever get the opportunity to travel to the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the many amazing places to see is the Lava Tree State Park. Some internet sites call it the Lava Tree State Monument. It’s the same place.

Almost anywhere on the island, you will see flows of lava that have solidified into many different shapes. Active volcanoes on the island spew out lava at different times. That lava often finds its way into the Pacific Ocean, which surrounds Hawaii, making the island continue to grow bigger.

One of the unique things about Lava Tree State Park is that this centuries old rainforest was engulfed by a huge lava flow from the Kilauea volcano in 1790. The lava flowed through the rainforest where many ohia trees grew. Ohia contains hard wood that Hawaiians have used for house frames, canoe parts and digging sticks.

The smooth lava, called pahoehoe, flowed over 10 feet deep. It completely surrounded the ohia trees. The lava was so hot that it incinerated the trees. As the lava cooled and hardened against the tree trunks, it left lava in the shape of those trees. Some of the lava molds are several feet tall. Others are just stumps. Inside one of the lava tree molds, we saw what looked like the imprint of tree bark.

A narrow cement path that is seven-tenths of a mile long loops through the state park. There are about 85 lava tree molds preserved in the park. You can see some of them as you walk along the path.

If you are in Hawaii and would like to visit the park, it is just outside the town of Pahoa in a more tropical part of the island. Just outside the town of Pahoa, take a left on Highway 132, also called the Pahoa-Kapoho Road. When you reach the park, turn left into it. You will find a parking lot on your right.

If you can’t get to Hawaii but would like to learn more about the park, look it up on the internet by googling Lava Tree State Park.

Anyone who enjoys trees and volcanoes will find this park a wonderful place to study or to visit.

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