Anyone who is looking for a little greenery after hiking the crater will enjoy this shaded woodland walk, as will birders. The half-mile loop trail starts at Hosmer Grove campground, 0.75 miles south of the Park Headquarters Visitor Center, in a forest of lofty trees.
The exotics here were introduced in 1910 in an effort to develop a lumber industry in Hawaii. Species include fragrant incense cedar, Norway spruce, Douglas fir, eucalyptus and various pines. Although the trees adapted well enough to grow, they didn’t grow fast enough at these elevations to make tree harvesting practical.
After the forest, the trail moves into native shrubland, with ʻakala (Hawaiian raspberry), mamane, pilo, kilau ferns and sandalwood. The ʻohelo, a berry sacred to the volcano goddess Pele, and the pukiawe, which has red and white berries and evergreen leaves, are favored by nene.
Listen for the calls of the native ʻiʻiwi and ʻapapane; both are fairly common here. The ʻiʻiwi has a very loud squeaking call, orange legs and a curved salmon-colored bill. The ʻapapane, a fast-moving bird with a black bill, black legs and a white undertail, feeds on the nectar of bright red ohia flowers, and its wings make a distinctive whirring sound.