Haleakalā National Park is located on the island of Maui and extends from the summit of the dormant Haleakalā volcano to the Kīpahulu coast. The summit and coastal areas are two very different, very distinct parts of the park. The coast is what you picture when you think of Hawaii with beautiful waterfalls, lush vegetation, and swimming areas that make you think you’re in paradise. The summit district, however, looks like you just stepped onto Mars. The rich colors and rocky landscape will be like nothing you have ever seen before and visitors can spend time hiking down into the cinder. The most popular thing to do in the park is wake up early to drive to the summit for the sunrise. This can be very crowded and very cold as the weather at 10,000′ is much chillier than at sea level. Hiking the trails is what I would recommend more so than standing with a bunch of strangers for an hour waiting for a quick picture of the sunrise! Check out the list below for the 4 best day hikes in Haleakalā National Park and enjoy your visit! Official Website.
This top hike has several highlights along the way including a massive banyon tree, a thick bamboo grove, and 400′ tall Waimoku Falls. Hopefully, you will arrive after a recent rainfall so water gushes over the ledge. Either way though, this is one of the best hikes in Haleakalā if not all of Hawaii. The trip to get to the trailhead is almost as rewarding as the trail driving on the curvy and scenic Hana Highway. The parking area is right next to Kipahulu Visitor Center.
- 3.4 miles – Out and back
- 750′ gain
Descend from the crater rim and take in the otherworldly landscape that this park has to offer. This is one of the best hikes in Haleakalā and gives hikers the opportunity to turn around at any point. Do not forget that the trip back up will be twice as hard! It is 2.5 miles to the Ka Lu’u o ka O’o cinder cone which is a nice place to turn around to make for a great day hike. Be sure to plan accordingly as the weather at the top of the crater is extremely cold. Many people do not realize the temperature drop due to the significant increase in elevation and arrive in their normal Hawaii wear! The trailhead can be located right next to the Haleakalā Visitor Center.
- 5.0 miles – Out and back
- 1500′ gain
Gentle trail that will take hikers to the mouth of the ‘Ohe’o Gulch. From here you will ascend the southern edge of the gulch to get to the 7 beautiful freshwater pools that flow into each other. Swimming is extremely popular and visitors arrive early to get a more secluded experience. The ‘Seven Sacred Pools’ are gorgeous but conditions can be hazardous so be safe! The trailhead is next to the Kipahulu Visitor Center in the same parking area as Pīpīwai Trail.
- 0.5 miles – Loop
- 50′ gain
Hikers have the option to turnaround at any point on this trail, similar to Sliding Sands. The trail itself is rocky and steep at times as you hike in the native shrubland exploring the geologic history of the volcano. The most popular spot to turn around is about 1.1 miles from the trailhead at the crater viewpoint. The trailhead can be found at a parking area off of Crater Road.
- 2.2 miles – Out and back
- 400′ gain