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Halemau'u Trail

Difficult

Trail

10.3 mile 16.5 kilometer point to point
87% Runnable
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,074' 327 m
Descent: -2,679' -817 m
High: 7,985' 2,434 m
Low: 6,381' 1,945 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 37% (20°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Map Key

Trail shared by Megan W with improvements by Al Bee

Dramatic crater views and first rate volcano travel on this popular but taxing trail.

Megan W

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers

Description

Starting from the parking area, descend gradually at first until reaching the western rim of Haleakala crater and the terminus of the Supply Trail. Continue straight at the intersection where endless tight switchbacks cut down the steep cliff with significant change in elevation. From here you'll see a huge valley to the north (Ko'olau Gap). Expect loose lava rock, shrubby vegetation and little shade. Next up is an rugged cliff with spectacular views of the valley and coastline way below.

When you reach the crater floor, enjoy a brief respite on level ground before climbing again to the Holua Cabin. Overnight stays at the cabin and campground require a permit but there is a pit toilet available. The cabin is situated among native shrubs which have colonized the lava flows. Keep an eye out for the nearly extinct Hawaiian petrel in this area.

Continue across the crater floor over sandy, rolling terrain that generally climbs towards the multicolored cinder cones in the distance. Along the way, you'll intersect with the Silversword Loop. This worthwhile detour does not add any real mileage, so you might as well visit this concentration of rare silversword plants. After rejoining the main Halemau'u Trail, crest a ridge and traverse an impressively barren, black stretch of newer lava. The trail surface is deeper sand/dirt and slow going. Other highlights along the route include the Bottomless Pit and Pele's Paint Pot- an ashy, technicolor landscape created by the minerals found in the lava.

Upon reaching the crater's large inner cinder cones, the Halemau'u Trail makes multiple junctions with the (roughly north-south) Connector Trails A-F which link the Halemau'u Trail to the Sliding Sands Trail. Any number of loops can be created by using these connectors. Continue downhill eastwards along the Halemau'u Trail to where the Sliding Sands Trail ends. Stay on the Halemau'u Trail and cross patches of smooth lava making for much easier travel. Then approach the steep hillsides through scrubby, dense vegetation and grassy fields. The Halemau'u Trail ends at a 3-way intersection with the Kaupo Trail (to the south) and the Lau'ulu Trail (to the east).

Heed the warnings and be prepared for cold and unpredictable weather. Also, be aware that the high altitude will cause dehydration and fatigue much faster than at sea-level. As of this writing, no food is available for purchase inside the park, so bring your own.

Flora & Fauna

Hawaiian petrel ('Ua'u), nene, silverswords.

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Check-Ins

Jan 21, 2019
Meghan Ryan
Ran this today after the Maui oceanfront marathon yesterday! 13.2mi
Dec 24, 2016
Minnie Gan
Christmas trip 2016 12mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes

#362

Overall
  4.5 from 11 votes
5 Star
55%
4 Star
36%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#6

in Hawaii

#362

Overall
53 Views Last Month
13,675 Since Apr 28, 2016
Difficult

0%
13%
88%
0%

Photos

A little trail-side vegetation starts popping out of the rocks and sand.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, HI
Ashley makes her way upwards on the long climb.
Dec 31, 2019 near Wailua, HI
At this point it's hard to say if catching a view is more important than catching you breath.
Dec 31, 2019 near Wailua, HI
The grasslands at this end of the hike are almost polar opposite to the barren landscape at the start.
Dec 31, 2019 near Wailua, HI
If you're visiting in the winter hopefully you brought a jacket with you for a possible shower.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, HI
Where some see a hitching post others will find a good spot to stretch before tackling the switchbacks ahead.
Dec 31, 2019 near Wailua, HI

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