Trail post for various hikes. Many hikes are closed due to damages from volcanic activity. Photo by MyLynn Phan.

Being a Science Communication Assistant in Hawai‘i Volcanoes usually means that I’m sitting inside an office, researching and developing programs on a computer. Although it’s rewarding and fascinating material to learn, I often find myself looking out my window at the lush rainforest surrounding the building.

After finally turning off the computer for the day, I begin my daily ritual. I briskly walk back to my house, change into athletic wear, and bike out to Halema’uma’u Trail. Guests of the Volcano House have used this old trail since 1846. The Halema’uma’u Trail used to travel across Kīlauea Caldera to the edge of Halema’uma’u Crater before it began erupting in 2008.  Since then, the hike ends shortly after descending down into Kīlauea Caldera. Halema’uma’u means “house of the ʻāmaʻu fern.” The beautiful trail descends 425 feet (130m) at the southern edge of Kīlauea Caldera through a rain forest that has been re-established numerous times.

A purple uluhe frond on the side of the hiking trail. Photo by MyLynn Phan.

The trail is relatively steep and is an in-and-out hike, about 1.8 miles roundtrip. Instead of hiking through, I jog down and hike back up. As a fun challenge to myself, I began timing my roundtrip time. At a leisurely pace, the trail takes about an hour. My fastest time since has been 25 minutes. It’s fun to take it at different speeds, but the most important thing the trail offers is an immersive and isolated trek with nature and rainforest surrounding you.

Section of the Halema’uma’u trail, surrounded by mossy rocks with plants hanging over. Photo by MyLynn Phan.


MyLynn is currently pursuing a B.S. in Community and Regional Development and minors in Education and Religious Studies from the University of California, Davis. When she is not getting hopelessly lost in the wilderness during her backcountry excursions, MyLynn can be found flameworking reusable glass straws at her University Craft Center or picking flowers bouquets at the Student Farm. She is passionate about sustainability and environmental justice, and hopes to become an advocate for environmental protection through future involvement in governmental policy and legislation. Currently, she works as a Resident Advisor in the student dormitories, where she mentors and guides incoming first year students at UC Davis. MyLynn’s experiences gained from working with and serving the community around her has encouraged her to continue a career path centered around people and the natural environment.

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