3 of the Best Long Hikes on Maui
Haleakala's Sliding Sands to Switchbacks Trail
Maui's resident volcano, Haleakala, is a destination itself and the majority of Maui's visitors wake up in the wee hours of the morning to Haleakala's summit, just to watch the sun rise above the clouds. That's where most of the majority's experience with Haleakala ends; however, there's much more to Haleakala than that.
If you dedicate the time to it, you can descend from Haleakala's summit into the crater of the once-active volcano. Don't worry, Haleakala isn't active anymore. Hiking into the crater is just as jaw-droppingly beautiful as coming across active lava though.
Haleakala's Sliding Sands (also known as Keoneheehee) to Switchback trail spans around 13 miles. You descend from Haleakala's summit into the crater by the Sliding Sands trailhead. As you continue on, the aptly-named Sliding Sands trail is like hiking down a giant sand dune; you will slide about three feet every step you take down. While it may not be correct to say that this trail is easy, it is fairly straightforward. In order to finish this trail with daylight to spare, you have to get an early start, but if you're camping in the crater, your timeline may have some wiggle room.
You will pass the cabins after about half a day's worth of hiking and if you planned ahead or are lucky enough to have been able to reserve them, you can spend the night in Haleakala National Park's surprisingly comfortable cabins. Otherwise, you will continue on toward Hosmer's Grove which, in order to get to, you will have to ascend somewhere around 1500 feet, hiking up the switchbacks until you ascend out of the crater at a different location from where you started.
Many people bring two cars up Haleakala, parking one in the Hosmer's Grove parking lot and then continuing up to the summit where the Sliding Sands trail begins. However, it's not unheard of to take one car and when you exit the crater, just hitchhike back up to the summit. A bit of a risk, especially considering it can drop to below freezing on Haleakala sometimes, but it's up to you.
~12 miles; ~7-8 hrs
Keanae Valley offers the opportunity to explore Maui's lush rainforest on the island's Road to Hana. The further you go on this hike, the more you'll immerse yourself in the nature and beauty of Maui. You'll find refreshing waterfall after waterfall, beautiful trees unique to Hawaii, tropical fruit and very likely a rainbow or three, as it can get wet out here.
As you go on further, you'll be on EMI, or East Maui Irrigation, land. A lot of the land you'll come across on the road to Hana is owned by East Maui Irrigation. As such, to legally go on this land, you need to get a waiver from EMI.
For more info and an a more in-depth account of a Keanae Valley Hike, check this out.
Olowalu Valley (to Iao Valley) Hike
~11 miles – ~18 miles; ~8 hours to a multi-day hike
Definitely not for the faint of heart, hiking from Iao Valley to Olowalu through the West Maui mountains is probably Maui's most treacherous journey. Embarking on this hike, climbing the West Maui Mountains and coming out the other side is not only dangerous, but is exhausting, tiring and for those who probably have more than one screw loose.
You will need to be prepared for this and that includes but not restricted to camping gear, climbing gear, survival gear, food and water. You'll be carrying all of this, probably getting wet and rained on, definitely dirty, all the while climbing up and down the West Maui mountains with elevation changes of 3000 foot+ multiple times.
For a photos and an account of one group's journey, check out this page.
Of course, if you manage to do this hike and make it out, you'll have encountered views that few have seen and most of those from helicopters or planes. You'll have the satisfaction of doing something that most people have not and have attempted and succeeded at something that many have failed at. However, make note that people have attempted this time and time again, failed and if they were fortunate, helicoptered to safety and if they were unfortunate, were not alive when they were helicoptered out. This hike is no joke.
Other Things to Think About
By giving this information, this is not giving you permission to be on this land. This site does not have the authority to give permission to go on these hikes. Make sure you get the proper permission to go on the land where you decide to hike.