When you visit Maui, there are certain activities you simply cannot miss such as going to a luau or traversing the Road to Hana. Another can’t-miss destination is the gorgeous Haleakala Volcano.
Haleakala is the East Maui Volcano. This massive shield volcano has formed over 75% of Maui while the rest of the island was formed by Mauna Kahalawai, another volcano. In the traditional Hawaiian language, Haleakala means “House of the Sun.” In Hawaiian legends, the demigod Maui stood on top of the volcano at sunset and lassoed the sun. Legend has it that this makes days last longer in the summer.
With a peak of 10,023 Ft above sea level, Maui is extra close to the sun. This volcano is as scenic as it is massive with views that stretch as far as the eye can see and aromatic flowers that please the senses. When visiting Haleakala, many people find bicycling to be the most efficient way to scale and descend the mountain while getting to enjoy the beautiful scenery. This may lead you to wonder, how long does it take to bike up Haleakala? How long does it take to bike down Haleakala? And which one should you do?
Keep reading below to learn more about biking up and down Haleakala.
Preparing to Bike Up Haleakala
First, you will arrive at our bike shop in Paia. Our team will get you outfitted with a great carbon fiber or aluminum disk road bike for your journey.
We suggest all cyclists bring or have a lightweight, windproof, waterproof jacket, arm warmers, leg warmers, 2-3 water bottles, and plenty of food/electrolytes for the 36 mile ride. Along the way, you will be able to stop in the town of Makawao to refill water and get additional food if needed. From there, your next option for water and food is at the Kula Lodge in Kula Marketplace. But note, the opening time if you start early, because they may be closed.
If Kula Lodge is closed, your next stop for water is inside the National Park at 7,000 feet at the Visitors Center.
Make sure to keep an eye on the weather as it will vary throughout the ride and could be cold or raining at certain parts of the journey.
Biking Up Haleakala
Climbing Haleakala by bike is considered one of the most difficult bike climbs in the world. It’s the #2 highest rated climb in the United States and #14 in the world. On average, The Haleakala has a 5% grade, but it gradually changes throughout the route. The steepest grade is at about 10%-11%. This bike ride is a constant climb but the many switchbacks and turns in the road help stagger the uphill portions. Nevertheless, biking up Haleakala can be a very exhausting and exerting experience and is only meant for advanced bicyclists. However, it would be one of the most amazing bike rides of your life. Many people who return their rentals to our shop say it’s the highlight of their life and one of the best bike rides of their life.
This difficult climb is 36 miles long and can take four to five hours for advanced bicyclists. With breaks and stops along the way, this ride can take much longer with many people averaging about six to eight hours.
Biking Down Haleakala
Haleakala can be difficult to ascend, but the descent is less strenuous. However, it’s a solid hour to 1 ½ hours of descending, so make sure you have enough energy and have prepared for that long of a descent.
As you make your descent down the mountain, you’ll bike through beautiful plains, forests, switchbacks, and upcountry Maui. If you wish to stop and visit restaurants, art galleries, historical sites, and take a few photos, Kula and Makawao are great towns to visit.
This trip can be done in as little as an hour and a half without any stops along the way. However, we do suggest riders take their time as you’ll be coming through upcountry neighborhoods and long descents.
Biking Up & Down The Haleakala
There is also a third option for scaling and descending Haleakala. With our self-guided Haleakala downhill bike tour, you can start at our staging area (6500 ft.), turn around and bike up to Haleakala National Park. We recommend this for advanced or experienced cyclists only that are looking to do part of the ride but don’t have all day to do the full climb. This option is 12 miles and 3500 vertical feet of climbing.
Once you reach the Haleakala National Park gate, you are allowed to go in. However, there is a $15 fee per bicycle and you must pay with a credit card. You should note that while the National Park is very beautiful, it’s not much different from the views you would see on the bike tour.
If you so choose to do this option, please understand that this is not for the faint of heart or a beginner bicyclist. To complete this route, you are embarking on a 47-mile ride with no roadside assistance within the park boundaries.
Maui Sunriders Haleakala Tour
At Maui Sunriders, we are avid cyclists that have a passion for bikes and all kinds of bikes. Outside of the bike shop, you’ll find us touring the world’s best trails, visiting international bike races, and volunteering in biking programs. For us, bicycling isn’t a job, it’s our way of life.
As such, we strive to provide a premier biking experience to visitors and locals across Maui. We offer top-of-the-line safety gear along with safety briefings. In our bike shop, you can rent carbon and aluminum road bikes, full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes, Urban 9-speed and Izzy 7-speed e-bikes, 3-speed townie bikes, and even single-speed cruisers.
If you are looking for the best bike rentals on Maui, trust the professional cyclists at Maui Sunriders.