Last update: 4 January 2021
Haleakala is the House of the Rising Sun – literally. The sunrises are of such an epic magnitude that they draw people to get up at ridiculous o’ clock at night to drive up its endless winding hairpin roads to the summit, braving dizzying steep drop-offs, in order to gawk over the ethereal beauty of its caldera when the sun slowly lights up and paints it in otherworldly colours.
Haleakala crater hike
I would have loved to walk across the caldera and explore its countless craters & cinder cones. But unfortunately it was so windy that morning that I would probably have been blown across it like a tumbling weed.
Rows of craters and cinder cones.
Sunrise into the Ko’olau Gap caldera.
Steep ridges and weaving clouds
So I decided to go to the lower & less windy end instead, where the walking track from the summit emerges at Halemau’u. I wandered along steep ridges, while the track was frequently engulfed by foggy clouds weaving in and out of the caldera. But when they lift, you will be rewarded with some truly breathtaking views. It all adds to the mysterious beauty of this epic mountain.
The walking track at Halemau’u, at the lower end of the Ko’olau Gap caldera.
The jagged peaks of Mount Haleakala.
How to get to Haleakala
You can reach the summit of Haleakala by taking Road 37 from the coastal town of Kahului, leading to Road 377, and finally driving up the steep curvy Road 378 to the visitor center at the top. To indicate the mind-boggling steepness, this takes you from sea level to an altitude of 3000 meters within a straight distance of roughly 20 kilometers. The road distance itself is about 60 kilometers. But you will need at least 2 hours to precariously crawl up to the top.
Hair-raising hairpin roads in the sky!
Unfortunately, things have gotten quite busy in the meantime. Since 1 February 2017, reservations are required to go into the summit area between 03.00 and 07.00 hrs to watch the sunrise.
The Halemau’u Trailhead is about 11 kilometers down the road from the top, at an altitude of 2438 meters in the Haleakala Wilderness Area. Be sure to bring plenty of water – and a Wilderness Coffee 😉
Haleakala road map
This handy interactive map shows the road from Kahului to the top of Mount Haleakala, and the Halemau’u walking track. You can also zoom in on the different sections of the route for more details.
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(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
Mountains & Volcanoes – Mount Haleakala, Maui (Hawaii)
This post was originally published as NaturePic Challenge: a series of pictures of epic nature and places that will induce a natural high 😉
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