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Haleakala National Park Guide

Haelakala National park

Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii is composed of Haleakala Crater at the Summit District and the Kīpahulu District on the eastern coast. These districts are very different while both offering incredible views and experiences. Since these districts are far away from each other you should not visit them on the same day. Visit the Kípahulu District when you do Road to Hana and save the summit district for another day.

Visiting Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park costs $25 (valid for both districts) for 3 days. If you are planning to visit more national parks this year, the best option is to purchase the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass which is good for up to a year and provides access to national parks and national monuments as well as over 2,000 federal recreation sites.

Summit District

The summit district is a crater at 10,023 feet that has large cinder cones. It takes about 30 minutes to drive up a windy road to the summit from the national park entrance. If you are entering the park between 3:00 AM and 7:00 AM you must purchase a summit sunrise reservation online ($1.50 reservation fee). Make sure to reserve your spot in advance because they can sell out.

Drive Up to the Summit

Haleakala National Park Clouds

You can drive up to the the summit of Haleakala where you will find a short trail that you can walk along to see the view above the clouds. It is an incredible experience to stand above the clouds. If you are interested in learning more about Haleakala National Park you will find a small exhibit here with information regarding the crater.

Hike the Sliding Sands Trail

Haleakala Crater Maui
Blooming Silversword
Sliding Sands Trail Maui

Trailhead: At the end of the visitor center parking lot next to the information board by the road
Length: 0 to 11 miles round trip (depending on how much you decide to hike)
Elevation Change: 0 to 2,795 ft (depending on how far down you decide to hike)
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard (depending how far down you hike)

After driving up to the summit, drive down ten minutes to the visitor center and hike the Sliding Sands Trail.  This unique hike offers incredible views of the crater, cinder cones, and silverswords. I recommend hiking as much of this trail as you are able to or have time to do. You don’t have to hike the full trail to enjoy this hike, it is an amazing experience to hike down into the crater even if it is for a short walk.

  • Wear hiking boots. If you are looking to purchase new hiking boots you can search for deals on Backcountry.
  • Bring layers as the weather can change rapidly in the crater.
  • There is no food, water, or gas in the park so make sure to fill up gas before and bring plenty of water and snacks.
  • Stop at the visitor center for advice on where to hike to if you are unable to do the whole trail.
  • There might be a blooming silversword along the trail that would be worth hiking to.
  • The high elevation makes it more difficult to hike. If you are not used to the elevation take it slow and remember that whatever you hike down you will need to hike back up.

Kipahulu District

Seven Sacred Pools

Follow the half mile Kuloa Point Trail to the Seven Sacred Pools. The pools look very different depending on how much rain there has been recently (above photo shows a very rainy time). These pools are often closed to swimming and you can check the status on the national park site.

Pipiwai Trail

This is a 4 mile roundtrip hike with 800 ft elevation gain. It does get very muddy on the hike, so make sure you are wearing proper footwear. I didn’t get a chance to capture a photo because it was raining heavily when we did the hike, but it was worth it.

Highlights:
Makahiku Overlook: At 0.5 miles, view of Makahiku falls
Bamboo Forest: At 1 mile
Wamoku Falls: At 2 miles, waterfall at the end of Pipiwai trail
Note
The trail gets very muddy so make sure you bring appropriate shoes.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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