Dust in our eyes from the Sliding Sands Trail blew us off the top of Haleakala. We decided to try our luck with the Halemauu Trail.
The parking lot at the trail head is clearly marked just below the 8,000 foot level. We were greeted by a couple of overly friendly Nene. The composting toilet at the parking lot was spotless the day we were there – hand sanitizer and everything.
The first part of the hike is gently downhill through native scrub. While still a little windy, it was much more pleasant than at the top of the mountain – no dust and occasionally a little shade.
The first approach to the crater’s edge is spectacular if somewhat daunting. The switchbacks in the photo below descend almost 1,000 feet to the valley floor. Click on the photo to enlarge and zoom in on it.
While not as common as on the Sliding Sands Trail, people ride horses up and down those switchbacks.
The round trip from the parking lot to the Holua Cabin on the valley floor is an arduous 8 miles. It can easily take 4 to 5 hours. Bring food and plenty of water. As with anywhere at higher elevations on Haleakala, bring layers of clothing. It can get very cold.
You’ll also want to bring your camera. The views of the Ko’ olua Gap and crater interior are spectacular.
For an easier hike with all sorts of amazing views, take the one mile hike to the end of the ridge jutting out into Ko’ olua Gap. We stopped there for a picnic lunch.
Click here to see our blog on the Sliding Sands Trail.