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Halemau'u Trail

Difficult
 4.5 (11)

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


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Map Key

10.3

Miles

16.5

KM

Point to Point

7,985' 2,434 m

High

6,381' 1,945 m

Low

1,074' 327 m

Up

2,679' 817 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

37%

Max Grade (20°)

Dogs No Dogs

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Megan W with improvements by Al Bee

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes

#416

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

#416

Overall
23 Views Last Month
13,741 Since Apr 28, 2016
Difficult

0%
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13%
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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
If you're visiting in the winter hopefully you brought a jacket with you for a possible shower.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, 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
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
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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Check-Ins

Feb 1, 2020
David Hitchcock
Joined this hike with the hike down from the summit, and it was amazing. Great views, beautiful landscape. 6.3mi
Dec 20, 2019
Michael Obi
Nov 11, 2019
Matt H
out 'n' back for a few miles
Apr 4, 2019
Tyler Rowlette
Mar 12, 2019
Travis Ross
1 mile out, 1 mile back. To ridge 2mi — 1h 15m
Jan 4, 2019
Jacob Garrett
Oct 19, 2018
Rebecca Evans
Overnight camp at Holua. Beautiful ecosystems. Clouds on day 1, clear on day 2.
Aug 16, 2018
Jade Simunds
Extremely foggy and pouring rain. 2mi