Distance: 5 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation gain: 1,600ft (from 8,300 – 9,900ft)
Explore cinder cones and lava flows in the desolate basin of Maui's Haleakala, possibly the largest dormant volcano on the planet.
Formed by erosion rather than volcanic activity, the valley at the summit of Haleakala boasts much to marvel at, and the packed cinder and soil underfoot makes for a relatively easy hike. Here you'll find the silversword, an endangered plant found nowhere else on Earth with an alien appearance that compounds the other-worldly appearance of this remote location.
Ascending and looping up the mountain, the road to Haleakala National Park is equally spectacular, climbing through the clouds to the summit. Watch out for tour groups of cyclists on this road who freewheel down the mountain. These popular tours begin in the early hours of the morning so they can witness the sunrise over the island from the summit before they begin their two-wheeled kamikaze return back down the volcano.
A fee is required to enter Haleakala National Park. However, since the visitors permit is valid for several days and the park stretches all the way to Oheo Gulch by the ocean, you can follow up this hike with a trip to the Pipiwai Waterfalls Trail on the same pass.
The Haleakala basin is enormous and there are several longer trails to be tackled if you're feeling adventurous. The 11 mile Halemau'u to Sliding Sands trail is a great longer alternative day-hike. To tackle this alternate trail we recommend parking at the Halemau'u trailhead and hitching a ride to the summit before starting your hike. This way, most of your 3,000ft elevation change is downhill and your car is already and waiting for you at your journey's end.
- Trailspotting Images: Haleakala Volcano on Flickr
- National Park Service: Haleakala NP