An estimated 1,500 visitors a day hike across the lava flow fields to view the ocean entry and search for active lava breakouts. Round-trip walking distance is far; a one-way trip to the ocean entry from Kalapana is around 4 miles. Add the chase for active lava, milling about, and your hike will quickly add up to more than 10 miles when you return.
In 1880-1881, a lava flow from Mauna Loa came very close to entering Hilo Bay. In trying to reconstruct the timeline of this flow for a recent Volcano Awareness Month presentation, we tracked down many old place names mentioned in newspaper reports of the lava’s progress. One such name that came up repeatedly is Kalanakamaa gulch (“kahawai o Kalanakamaa”).