Haleakalā National Park
Steve and I went to Hawaii for a belated honeymoon in February 2018. It was one of the most amazing trips we’ve ever been on. While on Maui, we had the chance to go to Haleakalā National Park. We decided to drive to the summit of the volcano to hike. It took over an hour to get up the mountain from the Wailea-Makena area, but we learned it’s one of the highest elevation changes in the shortest distances. We went from sea level to over 10,000 feet in around 38 miles. Steve loved driving the Jeep up the mountain. It got FREEZING half way up that we had to change into our hiking gear. I was so grateful I brought my down North Face jacket. We got our National Park Passport Book stamped at the Visitor Center, which was super exciting!!
We got to the top around 3:30 PM. We hiked into the crater on the Sliding Sands Trail. The trailhead is in the parking lot of the Haleakalā Visitor Center. This is a long, out and back trail, so only hike as much as you want. You also have to give yourself plenty of time because it’s downhill going into the crater, which means the whole way coming back is uphill.
We hiked down for about an hour (which ended up being about two miles down) with lots of stops for taking pictures. It looked like a combination of what I imagine Mars and the Moon look like. It was one of the most incredible places we’ve been. It was also dead silent, which was super cool. There was no wildlife and there weren’t many people hiking since most people do sunrise tours of the volcano. The hike down was pretty clear and we enjoyed views of the crater.
After an hour, we decided to turn around because it was getting pretty misty and the sun was going to set within a couple hours. It took us an hour and half to hike back out. We wanted to wait to watch the sunset from the car, but it ended up being way too cloudy. We did get cool views above the clouds driving down though.
We stopped at the Kīpahulu District of Haleakalā National Park during our Road to Hana adventure. We didn’t stay long since it was a very full day, but we did hike the Kūloa Point Trail, which was an easy 1/2 mile round trip trail down to the ‘Ohe’o Gulch. ‘Ohe’o Gulch is also called the “Seven Sacred Pools,” but it was more like two pools since we were visiting during Maui’s winter and there was so much water. We learned that the east side of Maui gets 300 inches of rain a year, and it pretty much drizzled all day.