To the Top - Haleakala

Halaeakala is the national park and dormant volcano that makes up the mass of east Maui. If you're on Maui, you ought to get to the top for the view and seriously consider biking down!

To the Top - Haleakala

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on November 4, 2000

Some people make a big deal about going up to the summit for sunrise, but a local insists this makes no sense. He says to go for sunset if you want. It's an easier drive, you don't have to get up early, it's uncrowded and you can call it off if the summit looks clouded in.

It's worth a trip up. Earlier is better, as clouds sweep in most mid-mornings. Remember that you are 10,000 feet closer to the sun and will burn earlier at this altitude. You might be in bright sun at the summit and have to drive through a cloud on the way down - with zero visibility. Also remember that hiking at a higher altitude will take a lot more out of you than walking at sea level. The trail from the summit into the crater, Sliding Sands trail, is downhill to whatever point you turn around (unless you are doing a serious hike). Going uphill at this altitude makes it all a lot harder than it should be. You'll be wheezing - I guarantee it! ${QuickSuggestions} There are two crater overlooks short of the summit. Parking for the first, Leleiwi, at 8000', can be entered either on the way up or the way down. Parking for the second, Kalahaku, at 9300', can only be entered while coming down. Both have short walks to the crater rim where there are good views of the cinder cones inside. We agreed it was worth pulling off and walking to one of the overlooks, but we couldn't agree on which one was better.

Hosmer Grove, around the 6500' level is a little picnic and camping area with a short nature trail through a grove of imported trees planted by a former park superintendent. No big deal, but it might be more interesting when clouded in. ${BestWay} There are really only two choices in my opinion. One: drive up in your rental car. Two: if you're going to bike down, the bike compay will get you up to the top. Most full service outfits will pick you up at your hotel or you can meet them at their shop.

Aloha Bike Tours

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Foxboro Marmot on November 4, 2000

There are two types of bike trips down the volcano. One takes you to the mountain top, 10,000 feet above sea level, then escorts your group down through the national park back to the bike shop or other meeting spot. In the national park no unescorted groups are allowed, there is no passing, and groups leave at five minute intervals on a first come-first served basis. The other type of tour takes you to the 6000' level just outside the park, cutting out about eight miles. From here you can be escorted, guided, or go at your own pace, depending on what you choose.

The classic trip from the top gets to the summit before sunrise, allows some time for looking around, especially if there are 10 or so groups ahead of yours, then coasts 33 miles downhill with one short section where you need to pedal.

We went with Aloha Bike Tours. Mark met us at Rice Park for a continental breakfast, (good muffins - my daughter recommends the chocolate-chocolate chip with hot chocolate) then took us up to 6000' before turning us loose. We went at our own pace, but stopped at check points for guidance, snacks and drinks from Mark. His route is different from most: it goes from Kula to the Tedeschi Winery instead of going to the Paia area like the others. Toward the winery, the scenery looks like Ireland or Scotland - rolling hills and grassland with grazing horses and cows. It looks like Ireland and Scotland, that is, if you overlook the occasional cactus. At the winery, Karen met us for a make your own sandwich lunch. Time's allowed for the winery tour and tasting. Aloha does one tour a day, with a maximum of 14 people. His only advertising these days is on the internet.

This seemed pricey, but everyone really enjoyed it, so I shouldn't complain. We got continental breakfast, snacks, lunch, the bike and gear (gloves, helmet, jacket if you need one). Oh yeah! With the gear we looked like real pro bikers! We also got a guided tour up to 6000', transportation back to the meeting site, bike adjustments, and guidance. Having gone on a guided trip, I'd have no hesitation going on my own, although others in the group would prefer to be guided again. An escorted trip where everyone goes at the same pace, stays in line and stops when the escort pulls over seems too regimented but is the only way to start at the top.
Aloha Bike Tours
448 Crater Road
Kula, Hawaii, 96790
+1 808 249 0911; +1

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