Haleakala National Park is located on the Hawaiian island of Maui. It gets its name from the dormant volcano Haleakala.
The four Hawaiian Habitat zones are:
1. Wao Akua or Summit Habitat
2. Wao Kele or Forest Habitat
3. Wao Kanaka or Agricultural Habitat
4. Kai or Coastal Habitat
There are two separate entrances to the Haleakala National Park: Kipahulu Entrance and the Summit Entrance. The entrances are on extreme ends of the park and it takes roughly two hours to travel from one entrance to the other.
A lot of people have said that it is not possible to see both sides of the Haleakala National Park. But we managed to hike some trails at Kipahulu as well as catch the sunset at Haleakala’s summit. We started driving from Kahului on The Road to Hana. From Hana Town, the Kipahulu Visitor Center is roughly 11 miles. After that, we drove the 60 miles to Haleakala’s summit. The road that takes you to the summit is Highway 378.
Kipahulu Visitor Center
Hiking maps for Haleakala National Park can be picked up here. Park rangers are also available for more information.
Note: There are no bathrooms or water available on the hiking trails. So it’s a good idea to fill your water bottles and take a bathroom break at the visitor center.
One of the hikes we did at the Haleakala National Park is the Pipiwai Trail. 3.7 miles round trip and with an 800 foot elevation change, the Pipiwai Trail takes you through guava and bamboo forest to the 400 foot tall Waimoku Falls.
However that day, the trail was partially closed and hikers were allowed only up to Makahiku Falls (0.5 miles). So no bamboo forest and no Waimoku 😦
Kuloa Point Loop Trail
On your way to the Kuloa Point Loop Trail, you will come across a Hale Ku’ai. This is a traditional Hawaiian house for storing, displaying and trading provisions.
The Kuloa Point Loop Trail is a very popular hike at Haleakala National Park. It is a 0.5 mile trail that leads you to several pools and a waterfall. The pools are known as the 7 Sacred Pools or ‘O’he’o Gulch, though they are not seven in total; there are many streams and pools around the area. You are allowed to swim but are advised caution.
At an elevation of 8,840 feet, Haleakala National Park takes visitors literally above the clouds.
The below pictures are of the Volcanic Panorama. The terrain shows that there was a series of lava upwellings rather than a single explosion. It gives the illusion of a giant crater but there has been no huge explosion in Haleakala. More likely, this is a deep basin formed from the erosion forces of wind, stream runoffs and landslides in the Ko’olau Gap to the north and the Kaupo Gap on the south.
At 9,324 feet, the air gets colder and you would do well to bring brought a jacket along. You also have a closer look at the Volcanic Panorama.
Ahinahina is endemic to the slopes of Haleakala National Park and is found nowhere else in the world. Evolved from a California tarweed, the “silversword” is endangered.
Despite the extreme conditions, the ahinahina can live up to fifty years. It flowers only once in its lifetime, producing up to 50,000 seeds in one flower stalk. Then it dies.
With minimal air and light pollution, this is the highest point in Haleakala National Park as well as the whole of Maui.
Haleakala Observatories offer the fourth best space viewing conditions in the world. The largest telescope can track objects as tiny as a basketball, more than 20,000 miles away.
Sunset on the Summit
Surreal. Serene. Spiritual. This is the Pu’u’ula’ula Summit. It is without a doubt the most popular spot of Haleakala National Park. Parking is limited especially at sunrise and sunset, so grab a spot early.