Haleakala’s Switchbacks Hike

For those looking for a challenging day hike into the Crater, this one offers pretty much everything you’d want. Awe-inspiring views, good exercise, and true peace (Haleakala’s Crater floor is known as the quietest place on Earth…seriously, it’s a recorded fact.)
Halemau’u Trailhead Hike photos by Natalie Brown Photography
Halemau’u Trailhead begins at 7,990 feet (2,436 meters), so please keep this in mind as you begin your hike.  Elevation adds a whole new level of difficulty to hiking, and this one goes downhill… then up!  You’ll finish your hike at the bottom where not far away are the Holua Cabin and Campsites.  

hike to holua cabin

As you can see, this is a spectacular hike for a photographer.  When you get to the Crater’s edge, you’re in for a real treat.  Views of the crater floor from up above are impressive to say the least.

Haleakala switchbacks hike

The whole way down is gorgeous.  At one point, you’ll be walking on a ridge with drop offs on both sides of you.  The view from here is UNREAL.  That is, if the weather is cooperating.  If everything is in your favor, you’ll enjoy clear views or some mist below and around you.  If not, you might not see much.  You’re really at the whim of our Haleakala weather.

Haleakala hiking

Once at the bottom of the switchbacks, there’s a nice flat resting place to catch your breath. But the work isn’t over yet. There’s another mile or so walk to the cabins and campsites. If you want a cabin, you’ll have to reserve in advance through. Be warned, though, these fill up fast.

Haleakala Maui hiking

Now that you’ve hiked around 3.7 miles (6 km), it’s time to head back up!  You’ll find it comedic going up as you pass hikers.  They’ll be huffing and puffing, but they won’t have any idea what you’re going through.  It’s worth it though.

Halemau'u hike to Holua


  • Pack your own water or bring a water filter. There is running water inside the cabin and another faucet just outside the cabin, but it must be treated before drinking.
  • If you’re camping, check-in at the Visitors Center just inside the entrance gate. There’s a fee per car to enter. If you’re caught without a permit, you’re in trouble.
  • Haleakala National Park follows leave-no-trace principles, which means that if you pack it in, expect to pack it out. Yep, even those extra banana peels or apple cores.
  • Something for blisters, just in case. Duct tape works really well. Rather than packing an entire roll, simply wrap some tape around a bottle to save space.

Halemau'u Trail hike map

Halemauu trailhead

North Shore Lookout