The Devastation Trail is one of the go-to hikes for many visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park for a lot of logistical reasons. It is short enough to be included in a day packed with other activities, it is level and paved, making it friendly for children, strollers, and those with walkers and wheelchairs, and it is relatively close to the entrance to the park. In addition to these logistical pros, however, there is the simple fact that it is a beautiful walk that provides a totally unique perspective on the impact that a volcanic eruption has on the immediate environment even more than half a century later.
When Kīlauea Iki erupted in 1959, it sent a fountain of lava over 1,900 feet into the sky. For reference, that's just about the height of the Eiffel Tower...with another Eiffel Tower balanced on top. The fallout from this molten explosion had an enormous radius, as well; the lava easily cleared the crater walls and was hurled hundreds of yards out from the crater rim, completely destroying the surrounding rainforest. The Devastation Trail neatly traces the edge of this impacted area. As you hike out, you'll see the blighted volcanic landscape on your left and a thriving, verdant rainforest ecosystem on your right. The juxtaposition is marvelous, and it is really the best reason to work this short walk into your itinerary.
Of course, this is a popular walk as well. If you don't arrive first thing in the morning or in bad weather, expect to share the trail with plenty of other visitors. But the trail is wide enough to accommodate two directions of traffic, and the viewing area at the end of the trial is large. The parking area has a vault toilet and a trash can, but it is otherwise bare, so bring plenty of water. Note that this is also the parking lot for the Keanakāko'i Crater Hike, so it sees some traffic, but this hike, also on asphalt, makes for a great pairing with the Devastation Trail if you have the stamina and the water.