Hiking Haleakala Safely

Hiking Haleakala safely. What to wear and take on a hike. How difficult are this mountain's hiking trails? Follow these instructions and hike Haleakala without fear.

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Sunrise at the Crater

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Trail Between the Crater Cones

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Two areas in Haleakala National Park contain hiking trails. The majority of Haleakala hiking trails (30 miles worth) are in the summit area. An additional 10 miles of hiking trails can be found in the native shrubland of the Kipahulu area.

Which trails are safer?

Oheo Gulch Meets the Pacific

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Waimoku Falls and Forest

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The Kipahulu trails are safer simply because they are at a lower elevation. Hikers on these trails will not be in any danger of getting altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness.

The summit of Mount Haleakala is 10,000 feet above sea level. Altitude sickness becomes a concern at 8,000 feet. How healthy or well-conditioned someone when beginning the hike does not seem to have any bearing upon whether or not they will become ill.

The moonscape-like trails in the summit area are vastly different from the verdant terrain in Kipahulu so you may want to take the additional risk. Here's what you can do to stay safe:

Haleakala Hiking Tips

Plants You Are Likely to See

Protea Grows in Hawaii, New Zealand, and South Africa

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Silversword Grows Only on Mount Haleakala

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  1. Dehydration caused by the thin, dry air at high elevations contributes to the illness so be sure to go into any Haleakala hike well hydrated and carry an ample supply of water with you.
  2. Learn the symptoms of acute mountain sickness. If, while ascending, you begin to feel as if you have the flu or a hangover, descend immediately. Altitude sickness is serious and can be fatal. The only reliable cure is to descend. The best way to prevent it is to ascend slowly when hiking Haleakala.
  3. Always check current Haleakala weather conditions at one of the visitor centers before going out. You can also pick up a free map of Haleakala hiking trails there.
  4. No supplies of any kind are available at the summit. Don't forget any essentials: water, sunblock, sunglasses, critical medications, food, camera, etc.
  5. Pets are not allowed on the trails and hikers are admonished to stay on the trails. Endangered insects live beneath the rocks surrounding the trails. If you step on a rock, you may be crushing these creatures.
  6. If you are pregnant or have a heart or respiratory condition, check with your personal physician before hiking in the summit area.
  7. The summit is cold (30-65 degrees F.) and rainy while the weather at the crater floor is warm and humid. Dress in layers.
  8. Wear shoes appropriate to the terrain when hiking Haleakala. In the summit area, you will be hiking on volcanic gravel and soft cinders. This is easier to walk on than beach sand but the beach is the best place to test your hiking boots before deciding which ones to wear when hiking Haleakala.
  9. If you should encounter a flooding stream in the Kipahulu area, do not attempt to cross it.

Haleakala Hike Difficulty Rating

Horseback Trail Ride

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Trails Rated Easy:

  • Hosmer's Grove Trail - 0.6 miles round tripPa
  • Kaoao Trail - 0.5 miles round trip 

Moderately Difficult Trail:

  • Pipiwai Trail - 4 miles round trip

 Strenuous Trails:

  • Halemau'u Trail - 21 miles round trip.
  • Sliding Sands Trail - 19 miles round trip

Related Pages:

Haleakala Crater Maui
Sunrise on Haleakala crater Maui is one of nature's most grandiose public spectacles. Hiking Haleakala provides another kind of entertainment. From the rim of the Haleakala crater in Maui, you can see the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Haleakala Downhill Bike Tour
Looking for things to do in Maui? A Haleakala downhill bike tour is an exciting Maui adventure. There are guided and unguided Haleakala bike tours which let you bike down Haleakala at your own pace.

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