Mauna Loa Tree Molds

Useful Information

Mauna Loa Tree Molds, Hawai'i, U.S.A.
Location: Leave Mamalahoa Hwy 11 opposite Volcano park entrance. Follow Mauna Loa Road for 100 m, turn right on Tree Molds Rd. Signposted.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologylava mold
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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View of Tree Mold, Tree Molds Area, Hawaii Volcanoes NP. Public Domain.
View of Tree Mold, Tree Molds Area, Hawaii Volcanoes NP. Public Domain.

For some reason this place has no name, so we named it Mauna Loa Tree Molds. It is signposted Tree Molds and is located at the road to the summit of Mauna Loa. It is part of the Volcano National Park, but its not very well published on their website. But ther is a road, a parking lot, barbecue area, and a short trail. There are even railings around the most impressive tree molds.

The tree molds here do not look like the stumps of trees, because they are actually underground. After they were formed the lava flow did not flow away, it solidified around them. As a result they are better preserved. And they are quite big, up to eight meters deep and the bigger ones about half a meter in diameter.

While the site is not advertised it is still developed at the high standards of American National Parks. There is a parking lot, paved trails, explanatory signs, and rest rooms. Rather funny is the text on one of the explanatory signs, which is for this reason cited on many websites. It seems the author was a fan of sultry language.

The land shudders. Up slope, the fiery blood from the heart of the earth spews forth once more. Old land is covered, but the grand trees cannot flee. Their water-laden trunks, resistant to the lava’s first touch, allow the flow to harden around them. The heat is too great though, and each tree eventually bursts into flame. The flow stops, but tree molds in the flow mark the former forest and the flow’s depth.

This are the developed and signposted lava molds, but there are many more. You can follow Mauna Loa road for some kilometers if you want to see more.