Sea To Summint: Bike Up Haleakala Volcano (Expert)
36 miles, 10,023’ elevation gain
The climb that draws cyclists from all over the world! From sea level, climb 10,023’ over 36 paved miles to the summit of Haleakala volcano. Break through the cloud line and look down at the entire island of Maui, and peer into the crater. On a clear day from the summit, you can even catch glimpses of the 14,000’ peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa over on the Big Island!
The gradient is, on the whole, quite gentle (5-6%). There are a handful of steeper pitches around the many hairpin turns as you work your way cycling up Haleakala.
What bike will I ride on Maui?
Planning a cycling trip to Maui? The idyllic island is an excellent cycling destination for cyclists, with a number of world-class road routes and a couple of mountain bike trail networks. Check out some details on how to bring your bike with you, or consider renting a bike from us.
Here at Maui Sunriders, we offer a fleet of rental bikes on Maui. Maui Sunriders is your destination for high-end road bikes, full suspensions, hardtails, e-bikes, 3-speeds, or single-speeds. Our top-notch staff of cycling enthusiasts will be excited to help you find the right bike for your adventure (at either of our locations...Paia or Kihei!).
Start from the beach…
We recommend starting your climb from the parking area in Lower Paia Park. You’re right at the beach and have a clear view of the entirety of the volcano.
The first segment of the climb is the 7 miles and 1,800’ feet up to Makawao town. At the T-intersection, continue straight up the steep quarter-mile pitch (Olinda Rd). After a mile, you’ll take a right onto Hanamu Rd, directly opposite the entrance to a horse ranch.
DO NOT continue straight up Olinda Rd – you’ll climb unnecessarily for another 6 miles before the road turns around!
After your brief reprieve from climbing while on Hanamu Rd, you’ll bear left at two consecutive forks to make your way onto the Haleakala Highway. Continue on the highway for 5 miles, through the town of Kula, and turn left at the sign for Haleakala National Park. About a quarter-mile before the turn, the Kula Marketplace can be a pit stop for a bathroom and refueling. If you’re climbing early in the morning, make sure you check their opening hours…you may pass the marketplace before they open for the day!
CYCLING UP THROUGH HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK
Once on Crater Rd, it’s 22 more miles (!) to the summit. You’ll climb past the highest residences on the island, and into open ranchland. On a clear day, the views through this section are spectacular. At 7,000’ (24.5 miles), you’ll enter Haleakala National Park. As a cyclist, it’s a $15 fee (credit card only!) to enter the park. If you have a National Parks Pass, it’s free. About a half-mile after the ticket booth, you’ll reach the visitors center. This is your last opportunity to refill water bottles – while there is a bathroom at the summit, there is no food and water!
From the visitors center, it’s another 10 miles to the summit. Make sure you climb the final half mile to the observation area…the first parking lot you come to isn’t quite at 10,000’. That last half mile is one of the steepest pitches you’ll encounter on the day…but the reward of getting to the peak is well worth it, we promise!!
You’ve Biked Up Haleakala. Now Enjoy the Descent!
Once you’ve soaked in the views and the feeling of success, it’s time to descend. Come prepared…it can get quite cold on the way down. At the very least, we recommend having full finger gloves, arm and leg warmers, and a rain jacket or windbreaker. A buff can also be helpful to put over your ears. Weather is unpredictable…it may be sunny at the summit, but foggy, misty, or rainy once you drop back below the clouds!
Maui Sunriders contributing writer, photographer, and route builder
Conor is an avid bike rider, racer, adventurer, photographer, and graphic artist who spends his winters working for Maui Sunriders. All routes, photos, and written descriptions are his own.
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