Peak(s):  Pu’u Ula’ula (Red Hill), 10,023
Date Posted:  12/24/2021
Date Climbed:   12/20/2021
Author:  Hiking_TheRockies
 Haleakala National Park - A Hawaiian Adventure   

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Summit 10,023'

Distance: ~13 miles
Elevation Gain: ~3000
Time: ~5 hours

I have never been to a place as amazing and beautiful as Haleakala National Park. The landscape goes from steep, rugged rock faces to volcanic craters to mars-like expanses. If you enjoy hiking and are going to the Hawaiian island of Maui anytime soon, you should defiantly consider doing this hike. The volcanic crater was different from the areas I usually hike in in Colorado, but still just as beautiful. This trip report will talk about the 13-mile hike I did, and how amazing I thought it was.

The road to the trailhead gains 10,000' verticle feet over some 20+ miles, rising from sea level to the parking lot near the volcano's summit. My father and I reached the parking lot at around 7:40 am, to find a large blanket of fog covering the crater. We began hiking down into the fog with high spirits.

Looking down into the crater

As we descended, we began actually walking through the fog. It was wet, and our visibility was limited to 15-30 feet. We put on rain jackets to avoid getting soaked.


One major difference between this hike and most hikes I do back in Colorado was that the hike went down at the start. We spent the first 4 miles descending downwards around 3000 feet. This made the hike a lot more bearable at the start, but ending the hike with all that uphill sure punished us later.

We continued hiking down through the fog for about a half-mile. When the fog finally dissipated, we were struck with incredible views of the surrounding rock faces to our left, volcanic craters atop a massive red and black sand basin in front of us, and lush, green slopes to our left. The views were unlike any I had ever seen.

Crazy rock faces

We continued to descend, walking between, next to and over cooled lava rocks and formations. There were a few small plants along the trail. As the sun rose higher in the sky, most of the fog fully dissipated, leaving us with a nearly full view of the crater.

Close-up on the Lava Cones. You can see a river of cooled lava rocks cutting through the sand.

Reaching the floor of the crater, it was like a different planet. There were lava rocks and formations all around us, atop a mix of red and black colored sand and dirt. We reached a campsite were we drank some water, and then we set off towards a cabin near the back of the crater. Apparently you can rent the cabin to stay in, though we were just going to hike to it and turn around.

Crater floor
Plants with some lava rocks in the background, and lava cones in the distance.

We continued hiking and saw an interesting goose-like bird. We noticed that there were not a lot of plants around, and those that were were not very green. You would probably think that the mineral-rich volcanic soil would allow tons of plants to grow, but that was not the case. It turns out that the reason for this is because the area gets so little rainfall that it is considered a desert!

We reached the cabin after maybe an hour. From there we decided to take a loop that goes off of the trail we took that winds through the lava cones and lava rocks for maybe 3 miles. After eating some snacks we began taking this route.

The Cabin, with a lush hill of plants behind it (this hill was kind of out of place compared to the rest of the crater, but it was still beautiful)

Taking the path through the lava cone areas was absolutely stunning. It felt like we were on Mars, with red sand and dirt surrounding us and rocks here and there. We gained and lost elevation as we went, winding around the lava cones and through lava rock fields. We got absolutely spectacular views of the surrounding crater walls, including a really cool peak that was part of the outer crater walls (I think).

Lava Cones and Red Dirt with clouds above
On the side of a lava cone
Cool peak we saw
Red and black sand, clouds, and a cool rock wall in the distance

About halfway along the trail we reached "The Bottomless Pit", a 65 ft. deep hole that I'm assuming was were some lava came out during Haleakala's last eruption. This hole was DEEP! I couldn't see the bottom!

Bottomless Pit
Me next to the pit

We continued hiking, eventually re-merging with the trail. The views of the surrounding crater walls and floor were still so amazing, and the lava cones were super cool as well. By this point the fog and low clouds had fully dissipated, so the unobstructed views were amazing. One really interesting part of the volcano was just how steep the crater walls were. I have never seen anything like it before!

After 8+ miles of hiking, the last thing we wanted was 3000 feet of uphill. We started up, taking breaks every mile or so for water and looking at the amazing views that surrounded us.

Crater walls
Looking back down into the crater
Final Push up towards the parking lot

After nearly thirteen miles of hiking and 3000 verticle feet of uphill, we were happy to get back to our car. We drove the final bit of the road past the parking lot and up to the summit, where I ran up to snap some photos.

Summit Photo

This hike was absolutely epic. I had never seen anything like this until I did this hike. I hope you enjoyed reading this trip report, and happy trails!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
12/24/2021 16:13
Great report! My nephew and I
drove up there in July '19 and I wished I had more time to have hiked up there. Very scenic and like you said, Mars like landscape. If I ever get back to Maui, I will definitely make a priority to hike up there.
I have friends that have done backpacking trips from the bottom up before, so that's worth considering.

Cool report
12/24/2021 16:13
That was a great report with wonderful photographs of a very beautiful and fascinating place.
I really enjoyed the picture of the crater walls, with a lava dome that also had a small crater.
How unique.

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