Haleakala National Park Crater Hike



We just completed the Haleakala National Park crater hike on Maui. The summit of this volcano tops out at just over 10,000 feet. That is pretty impressive considering sea level is only a few miles away! Not many places can make that claim.

We did the trek “backwards” from the typical route. We went down the easier side into the crater and up the harder, longer side. The first day we got a late start and hiked down into the crater just before sunset. We passed the fence Ashley had worked hard to put up almost 10 years ago when she was 16! She spent a month living in a tent at the ranger’s station with a non-profit organization called Student Conservation Association (SCA). While she was there they built stretch of fence 8,500 ft up the crater to keep out the wild hogs. Ashley said that one hog can uproot one square mile each day, destroying habitats for alot of animals. It was special for me to get to see what she had talked so much about and for her to see it again years later. We then camped at the Holua campsite the first night. In the crater, there are no sounds heard from the outside world and no real residual light, so it is perfectly quiet and dark. Needless to say, the stars were absolutely amazing to see at night. Even though it is Hawaii, we were still around 7,000 feet in elevation on the crater floor, so the nights dropped to the low 40’s. 

The next morning, we got a relaxed start around 9am, walking through old lava flows and through moonscape terrain. Finally, we arrived on the other side of the crater, which is on the lush rainforest side of the island. The campsite here, Paliku, is very green and surround by steep crater walls, covered in vegetation, with an open gap on the other side overlooking clouds. You would see the ocean if the skies are perfectly clear, but due to cloud conditions, you usually will see the tops of the clouds. 

After a very chilly night, we got an early start for an 11 mile day through more lava slides and through amazing extraterrestrial-like landscapes. Huge craters rise up on all sides of you and the colors mixed in the volcanic ash are amazing. We ended the day by hiking up the sliding sands trail, which most people hike down… for good reason. The trail is very soft (all volcanic ash) and fairly steep and long. It was a blast. 

We met quite a few nice couples on the trail, including one couple that offered us a place to stay and to show us around if we wanted to check out the University of Oregon in Eugene (we are looking at it as a possibility for graduate school). Others were great to share trail stories with. One couple we stopped to chat with was from Hawaii and just spending one night in the crater. We didn’t even exchange names with them, not thinking we would ever see them again. We were wrong.

We finished the day by hitch hiking down to a lower public campsite where we stayed our last night on Maui. This morning (Tuesday) we hitch hiked over 50 miles down from the crater into Paia to eat breakfast and then on to Haiku to our friend’s house to get our stuff.

Random Karma Story——

On the way back to Paia to grab lunch before our flight, we decided to hitch hike again because our friend’s house was about 6 miles away from the town of Paia. We started walking along his neighborhood road and a huge blue truck stopped to pick us up. As we were walking up to the truck bed the passenger asked us if we enjoyed our hike in Haleakala (we were 50 miles away from the crater now and all cleaned up with beach gear on). To our shock, it was one of the hikers we ran into in the crater and chatted with for about 20 min randomly in the crater (I know, many of you could never imagine me, Ashley, stopping to talk to strangers for that long). We then found out that his name is Sam and he had just gotten off work and told the driver to pick us up because he recognized us. To make matters even better, as we chatted we realized that he knew our couchsurfing host Tim. Small world…and island. Ok, back to Jason’s story of our adventure:)

As I was saying…we had hitched, eaten breakfast, and made it to Tim’s place in two hours! That has to be some kind of record. The reverse was done on the way out for lunch, then to Borders in Maui’s capitol, Kahului to wait for our flight. All in all, it was a 100 + mile day of hitch-hiking! Lots of nice people in Hawaii : )

-Jason with guest writer Ashley

2 Responses to “Haleakala National Park Crater Hike”

  1. Alicia says:

    sweet pics! miss you guys

  2. Dori says:

    love the pics and the story…the Llama with the lei….LMFAO

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