Haleakala Volcano hiking

Hiking Maui’s Haleakala Volcano

First of all, whoever’s responsible for planning a free keg party the night before a 12-mile hike is an asshole.

But Haleakala Volcano is worth it.

in the clouds of Haleakala Volcano

This is the world’s largest dormant volcano, at just over 10,000 feet high. Climbing upwards through the clouds, you’ll pass through different climate zones and landscapes: flower farms, pine forests, pasture land, etc.

We drove about 90 minutes up to the summit, where the temperature was an easy 30 degrees cooler than near the ocean. I definitely did not prepare appropriately.

Lunar landscape on Haleakala Volcano

We began our descent into the valley, across a landscape that looks more like mars than Hawaii. Some of it reminded me of Iceland: deep red earth, exposed mantle, a dusty and barren land with the occasional stubborn tropical flower poking its way through. The route was littered with silversword, an endangered species only found in this part of the world. It flowers once every 50 years and then promptly dies.

Endangered = a good reason to stay ON the trail. Some people were really bad at heeding this advice.

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The first two-thirds of the hike was fine. Sometimes it got really cold really quick, and then super hot. Sometimes we’d have to hike through sand, which was a complete bitch. My friend Stephanie fell down and massacred her legs, but was cheerful about it because it meant she could smuggle some volcano rock home on the plane in her knees. Lols.

We passed through a lush green landscape, where the clouds touched the ground and a fine mist sprinkled everything.


And then this nightmare began.

On the trail on Haleakala Volcano

We were fully warned about this part of the hike, by the way. The slope is very gentle, but the switchbacks up the mountain DO NOT END. Being slightly hungover and at least 40 years older than half the other kids, I struggled and panted my way up that mountain like an obese whale. It was freaking HARD. HARD HARD HARD.

But beautiful, as most struggles are.

Lush landscape on Haleakala Volcano

I’m mostly happy about NOT being the last person in the group. That was my real goal. According to Fitbit, I hit 30,000 steps and burned over 3,000 calories.

IT WAS HELL and I’m so glad I did it.

However: despite applying sunscreen at least three times, I still got the worst burns of life. Be diligent about that stuff, folks. Skin cancer ain’t no joke.

We wrapped up the day with a sunset on top of the volcano, back at where we started our hike. The world is beautiful and life is good.

Sunset over Haleakala Volcano

  • February 04 2015

    Gah I seriously need to go back to Hawaii and do some serious hiking. Although perhaps I should hire someone to carry me up that last little part.

    • February 05 2015

      You could do it the reverse ways! And climb down the mountain instead of up…although at the end of the hike you’d still have to climb another hill, but maybe one that’s not so intense….either way, it’s rough. Hahaha.

  • February 04 2015

    I wasn’t into hiking back in 2009 when I went to Maui but it is definitely something I would like to do on a return journey. How amazing is sunset up there! We drove up :)

    • February 05 2015

      It was HARD! Haha. But really worth it.

  • February 04 2015

    Hiking up a volcano with a hangover! You’re harder than I am, I would have have my head under the pillow! Looks amazing though

    • February 05 2015

      Hangovers don’t seem to exist too badly in Hawaii! Must be the adrenaline

  • February 05 2015
    Michelle @TheRestlessReporter

    Haha, I love that I’m not the only one who’s always ill prepared for hikes and the like, I once climbed a (very small) Greek volcano in ballerinas, which is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made (there are countless contenders, though).

    • February 05 2015

      Omggg! How is that even possible?! Hahaha. Yeah, my burn is so pronounced on my calves that a stranger stopped me in the street yesterday and asked where he could buy socks like mine for his wife. Not even joking.