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7 ABSOLUTE Best Haleakala Hikes for 2022

Post Summary: Best Haleakala Hikes

Haleakala National Park is located on the island of Maui, in Hawaii. The name ‘Haleakala’ translates to “house of the sun” and there is a unique story behind it. According to local legends, the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun on this island to lengthen the day. The park covers an area of 33,265 acres and is divided into two sections; the summit area and the coastal area of Kipahulu. Although stunningly beautiful, the park has so much more to offer than just its scenery. It’s famous for its wildlife, stargazing opportunities, and of course, hiking trails!

This article is going to go through the 7 BEST hikes in Haleakala National Park, and the information you need for each one. There aren’t many hiking trails in the national park, and most of them are moderately challenging or easy, making it the perfect place for beginners. Several of the hikes are less than a mile long and lead you to spectacular viewpoints, where you can truly see the outstanding scenery of Haleakala. The length of the hikes, and the various activities in the surrounding area make this national park the ultimate family-friendly hiking destination.

So let’s get into the list!

Best of Haleakala National Park in a Nutshell

HIKES: Best Haleakala Hikes

NEARBY PARKS: American Samoa and Hawaii Volcanoes

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Click HERE to find out about the best hikes in Haleakala National Park.  We will break down the best Haleakala hikes for you.

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Quick Guide to Best Haleakala Hikes

Trail NameDifficultyDistanceElevation
Halemau’u TrailStrenuous7.5 miles2375 ft
Hosmer Grove TrailEasy0.3 mile 75 ft
Keonehe‘ehe‘e (Sliding Sands)Strenuous10.9 miles2795 ft
Kuloa Point Trail to Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools Trail)Easy0.6 mile108 ft
Leleiwi OverlookEasy0.3 mile101 ft
Pā Ka‘oao TrailModerate0.6 mile134 ft
Pipiwai Trail and Waimoku FallsEasy3.7 miles908 ft

Things to Know about Hiking in Haleakala National Park

  • It’s required by law that hikers stay on the marked trails. This is due to the fragile nature of Hawaii’s ecosystems! As tempting as it is to head off to explore, it’s illegal and can damage the environment.
  • The weather in Haleakala National Park can change suddenly without warning. Temperatures are also much lower as you hike up to the summit so make sure you layer up to keep warm.
  • Hiking groups within the park are limited to 12 people. If your group is larger than this, then you’ll have to split up into smaller groups and seperate each one by 30 minutes on the trails.
  • Cell service is limited within Haleakala National Park so make sure you tell a family member or trusted friend where you are. Let them know which trail you’re doing, and roughly when you think you’ll be back. This way, if they don’t hear from you they can contact a park ranger.

Best Hikes in Halemau’u TrailNational Park

Strenuous Haleakala Hikes

Halemau’u Trail

A cinder code volcano in the distance
NPS Photo
  • Distance: 3.75 miles / 6.1 km one way (7.5 miles / 12.2 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 2375 feet (724m)
  • Estimated Time: 5-6 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Halemau’u Trail parking lot
  • Map: All Trails

The parking lot for Halemau’u Trail is located approximately 14 miles up Highway 378, and that’s where you’ll start the hike. You’ll start by hiking through an upland forest before you catch a glimpse of the Haleakala crater. As you continue onward you’ll come to a narrow part of the path called the “Rainbow Bridge” before you head along the cliffs of the Crater. The next part of the trail sees you decline over 1,000ft to the crater floor, so make sure you take your time on the way down. Along the Halemau’u Trail, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views and numerous vantage points where you can appreciate the surrounding scenery.

Keonehe‘ehe‘e (Sliding Sands)

a baren volcanic landscape with a trail running through it.
  • Distance: 5.45 miles / 8.85 km one way (10.9 miles / 17.7 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 2795 feet (852m)
  • Estimated Time: 7- 10 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Haleakalā Visitor Center parking lot 
  • Map: All Trails

The Keonehe‘ehe‘e trail (or Sliding Sands Trail) is a challenging hike and not for the faint-hearted! It’s a full-day hike that crosses the Valley floor and then ends at Halemau’u. The descent down to the crater is relatively easy, and many people get lulled into a false sense of security. However, climbing back up from the crater is taxing, especially in warmer temperatures. It’s a good idea to consider your fitness level before attempting this hike, and avoid the afternoon heat if possible. The highlights of this trail include the crater floor, Pele’s Paint Pot, and Kawilinau.

Moderate Hikes in Haleakala

Pā Ka‘oao Trail

a circular stone wall looking out in the moutains
NPS Photo
  • Distance: 0.6 mile / 1 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 134 feet (41m)
  • Estimated Time: 20 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Trailhead Location: Haleakalā Visitor Center 
  • Map: All Trails

The Pā Ka‘oao Trail is one of the best trails in Haleakala National Park. The trail starts from the Haleakalā Visitor Center, as you hike up a rocky trail to get to the summit. Pā Ka‘oao is actually a cinder cone, and the views from the top are simply breathtaking. From the top of the trail, you’ll get spectacular views of the Haleakala crater, the Haleakala Observatory, and the Red Hill Summit. If you do this hike on an especially clear day, you might even get a glimpse of the West Maui Mountains, Big Island, Lanai Island, and Kaho’olawe. If you only have a short amount of time in Haleakala, then this is the trail you need to do! However, be prepared for the elevation. Although there isn’t much elevation gain, the trail itself sits at about 9,900 ft above sea level so some acclimatization may be needed.

Easy Haleakala Hikes

Hosmer Grove Trail

trees
  • Distance: 0.3 mile / 0.6 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 75 feet (23m)
  • Estimated Time: 10 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Trailhead Location: Hosmer Grove Campground
  • Map: All Trails

The Hosmer Grove Trail is one of the easiest trails in Haleakala National Park. The trail takes you through an old commercial forestry project from the 1920s. Researchers here introduced over 80 species of trees during this time, and although less than 20 remain today it’s a beautiful area to walk through. Some of the species that remain here include pine, source, cedar, and eucalyptus. Along the trail, you may also spot Hawaiian Honeycreeper birds which are found nowhere else on earth. Their colors are vibrant, so if you’ve got a pair of binoculars or a camera make sure you bring it with you!

Kuloa Point Trail to Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools Trail)

a rugged coastline in Hawaii
Jackie Frost/ NPS Photo
  • Distance: 0.6 mile / 1 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 108 feet (33m)
  • Estimated Time: 20 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Trailhead Location: Kipahulu Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

The Kuloa Point Trail starts from Kipahulu Visitor Center, and as you head along the path you’ll pass historic Hawaiian Habitation sites. Once you get about halfway along the trail you’ll catch a glimpse of the first waterfall at the top of the pools. Continue onwards along the trail, and you’ll arrive a Kuloa Point. From here you’ll get panoramic views of the Pools of ‘Ohe’o, and the surrounding scenery is simply beautiful. Swimming isn’t recommended off Kuloa Point due to strong ocean currents, and the chance of shark encounters. However, you can swim in the pools but only when conditions allow. Be cautious of the weather conditions before you get in, as the pools are prone to severe flash floods which are caused by heavy rains.

Leleiwi Overlook Trail

a overlook on a volcano
NPS Photo / Mark Kuaola Raymond
  • Distance: 0.3 mile / 0.5 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 101 feet (31m)
  • Estimated Time: 10 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Parking lot at mile marker 17.5 on Highway 378
  • Map: All Trails

The Leleiwi Overlook Trail is one of the easiest hikes in Haleakala National Park. To get to the trailhead you’ll need to park at the parking lot found at mile marker 17.5 on Highway 378. From there simply cross the road, and you’ll be able to see the trail. This hike takes you to Leleiwi Overlook where you’ll get panoramic views of the Haleakala crater. The environment here looks very much like the moon, so understandably, NASA used this area to train astronauts which is pretty cool! Although from the parking lot this trail doesn’t look like much, this isn’t a view you want to miss.

Pipiwai Trail and Waimoku Falls

a tall skinny waterfall in a tropical green rainforest.
  • Distance: 1.85 miles / 3.05 km (3.7 miles / 6.1 km round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 908 feet (277m)
  • Estimated Time: 2.5 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back
  • Trailhead Location: Kipahulu Visitor Center
  • Map: All Trails

The trailhead for Pipiwai Trail starts just across the highway from Kipahulu Visitor Center. The trail winds through a forest and freshwater stream and is known for its beautiful waterfalls. At about 0.5 miles into the hike, you’ll come to Makahiku Overlook where you’ll get to see Makahiku Falls. From there you’ll wander along a boardwalk through dense bamboo forest, before arriving at the Waimoku Falls viewing area. Waimoku Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls on Maui dropping 400 ft down a sheer rock wall. The view is breathtaking, making this one of the best trails in Haleakala National Park.

Frequently Asked Questions about Haleakala Trails?

How long does the Haleakalā hike take?

The hike up to the summit of Haleakala takes between 7-10 hours depending on your fitness level and weather conditions. If the weather conditions are cloudy and cool, you’ll find the hike a lot easier than if you attempt it during the midday sun.

Is Sliding Sands Trail worth it?

The Sliding Sands Trail offers spectacular views and many highlights along the way including the crater floor, Pele’s Paint Pot, and Kawilinau. However, the hike is incredibly challenging and should only be attempted by hikers with a relatively high fitness level. Although the descent down to the crater is relatively simple, climbing back out of the crater is extremely difficult and requires a good level of endurance. If the weather is warm, this will make the hike even more taxing.

If you’re up to the task, the Sliding Sands Trail is an incredibly rewarding hike. However, it may be best to skip this one if you have a low level of fitness.

How far is the Haleakala Sunrise hike?

*I can’t find any information on a Haleakala Sunrise hike sorry! It looks like you need a reservation, and every website states to drive up from the park entrance with your permit. I can’t find anything about hiking up there for sunrise*

Experiencing a Haleakala sunrise at the summit is truly a mind-blowing experience. However, it’s important to note that you need a permit to enter the area between 3 am – 7 am. These sunrise reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance and are extremely cheap.

Do you have to hike to Haleakalā summit?

If you feel you’re fitness levels aren’t up to hiking up to the summit of Haleakala then you don’t have to!

Luckily, you can drive up to the Haleakala summit, as there is a parking lot located near the top. From the parking lot, it’s only a short walk to the summit so no strenuous hiking is required.

Final Thoughts on Day Hiking in the Haleakala

We hope this article has encouraged you to try some of the beautiful trails Haleakala National Park has to offer, so you can experience the mesmerizing scenery for yourself. Which is your favorite hike in Haleakala National Park? If it isn’t on this list, then leave a comment below to inspire other hikers or join us in talking about all things National Parks in our National Park Trip Planning Community.

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Click HERE to find out about the best hikes in Haleakala National Park.  We will break down the best Haleakala hikes for you.

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