Biking and Hiking and Horseback Riding


Several companies offer guided bike tours down Haleakala. This activity is a great way to enjoy an easy bike ride, but isn't for those not confident in their ability to handle a bike. The ride is inherently dangerous due to the slope, sharp turns, and the fact that you're riding down an actual road with cars on it. That said, the guided bike companies do take every safety precaution. A few companies offer unguided (or as they like to say "self-guided") tours where they provide you with the bike and transportation to the mountain and then you're free to descend at your own pace. Most companies offer discounts for Internet bookings.
Haleakala National Park no longer allows commercial downhill bicycle rides within the park's boundaries. As a result, tour amenities and routes vary by company. Be sure to ask about sunrise viewing from the Haleakala summit, if this is an important feature for you. Some lesser-priced tours begin at the 6,500-foot elevation just outside the National Park boundaries, where you will be unable to view the sunrise over the crater. Also keep in mind that weather conditions on Haleakala vary greatly, so a visible sunrise can never be guaranteed. Sunrise is downright cold at the summit, so be sure to dress in layers and wear closed-toe shoes.
Each company has its own age and weight restrictions, and pregnant women are discouraged from participating, although they are generally welcome to ride in the escort van. You should also reconsider this activity if you have difficulty with high altitudes or are taking medications that may cause drowsiness.

Equipment and Tours

Cruiser Phil's Volcano Riders.
 Owner Phil Feliciano ("Cruiser Phil") has been in the downhill bicycle industry for 25 years. He offers sunrise and morning tours, which cost $150, and include hotel pick-up and drop-off, Continental breakfast at the company's base in Kahului, a van tour of the summit, and a guided 28-mi ride down the mountain. Riders will make a no-host meal stop in either Kula or Paia. Participants should be at least 15 and under 65 years old; be at least 5 feet tall and weigh no more than 275 pounds; and have ridden a bicycle in the past 12 months. 58-A Amala Pl., Kahului, 96732. 808/893-2332 or 877/764-2453.

Haleakala Bike Company
If you're thinking about an unguided Haleakala bike trip, consider one of the trips offered by this company. Meet at the Old Haiku Cannery and take their van shuttle to the summit. Along the way you'll learn about the history of the island, the volcano, and other Hawaiiana. Unlike the guided trips, food is not included but there are several spots along the way down to stop, rest, and eat. The simple, mostly downhill route takes you right back to the cannery where you started. HBC also offers bike sales, rentals, and services. Tour prices range from $60 to $100. 810 Haiku Rd., Suite 120, Haiku,96708. 808/575-9575 or 888/922-2453.

Island Biker. This is the premier bike shop on Maui when it comes to rentals, sales, and service. They offer 2005 Specialized standard front-shock bikes, road bikes, and full-suspension mountain bikes. Daily or weekly rates range from $50 to $150, and include a helmet, pump, water bottle, flat-repair kit, and spare tube. They can suggest routes appropriate for mountain or road biking, or you can join a biweekly group ride. 415 Dairy Rd., Kahului, 96732. 808/

West Maui Cycles. Servicing the west side of the island, WMC offers an assortment of cycles including cruisers for $15 per day ($60 per week); hybrids for $30 per day ($120 per week); and Cannondale road bikes and front-suspension Giant bikes for $50 per day ($200 per week). Sales and service are available.1087 Limahana Pl., No. 6, Lahaina, 96761. 808/




Hikes on Maui include treks along coastal seashore, verdant rain forest, and alpine desert. Orchids, hibiscus, ginger, heliconia, and anthuriums grow wild on many trails, and exotic fruits like mountain apple, lilikoi (passion fruit), thimbleberry, and strawberry guava provide refreshing snacks for hikers. 

Best Spots

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala Crater
Hiking Haleakala Crater is undoubtedly the best hiking on the island. There are 30 mi of trails, two camping areas, and three cabins. If you're in shape, you can do a day hike descending from the summit (along Sliding Sands Trail) to the crater floor. If you're in shape and have time, consider spending several days here amid the cinder cones, lava flows, and all that loud silence. Going into the crater is like going to a different planet. In the early 1960s NASA actually brought moon-suited astronauts here to practice what it would be like to "walk on the moon." Today, on one of the many hikes—most moderate to strenuous—you'll traverse black sand and wild lava formations, follow the trail of blooming ahinahina (silverswords), watch for nene (Hawaiian geese) as they fly above you, and witness tremendous views of big sky and burned-red cliffs. If you're lucky enough to camp or stay in one of the cabins, you'll fall asleep under a wide screen of shooting stars, while the alauahio birds murmur around you like a litter of pups.
The best time to go into the crater is in the summer months, when the conditions are generally more predictable. Be sure to bring layered clothing—and plenty of warm clothes if you're staying overnight. It may be scorching hot during the day, but it gets mighty chilly after dark. Ask a ranger about water availability before starting your hike. Note that overnight visitors must get a permit at park headquarters before entering the crater; day-use visitors do not need a permit. Cabins are $75 per night, and fit 12 people. They book months in advance by lottery, though it's possible to get lucky due to last-minute cancellations. To reserve a cabin, write at least two months in advance to Haleakala National Park (Box 369, Attn. Cabins,Makawao, 96768. 808/572-4459), or call between 1 and 3 pm Hawaiian Standard Time; you will need a valid credit card to secure a phone reservation.

Oheo Gulch
A branch of Haleakala National Park, Oheo Gulch is famous for its pools (the area is sometimes called the "Seven Sacred Pools"). Truth is, there are more than seven pools, and there's nothing sacred about them. The owner of the Hotel Hana started calling the area "Seven Sacred Pools" to attract the masses to sleepy old Hana. His plan worked and the name stuck, much to the chagrin of most Mauians. The Pools of Oheo is another name for them.
The best time to visit the pools is in the morning, before the crowds and tour buses arrive. Start your day with a vigorous hike. Oheo has some fantastic trails to choose from, including our favorite, the Pipiwai Trail. When you're done, nothing could be better than going to the pools, lounging on the rocks, and cooling off in the freshwater reserves.
You'll find Oheo Gulch on Route 31, 10 mi past Hana town. All visitors must pay a $10 national park fee (per car not per person), which is valid for three days and can be used at Haleakala's summit as well.
Kahakai Trail.
This easy 0.25-mi hike (more like a walk) stretches between Kuloa Point and the Kipahulu campground. You'll see rugged shoreline views and can stop to gaze at the surging waves below. Trailhead: Kuloa Point, 96713. 15 mins, 0.5 mi round-trip.

Kuloa Point Trail.
 An easy 0.5-mi walk, this trail takes you from the Kipahulu Visitor Center down to the Pools of Oheo at Kuloa Point. On the trail you pass native trees and precontact Hawaiian sites. Don't forget to wear your suit and bring your towel if you plan to take a dip in the pools. Keep in mind: no lifeguards are on duty and you'll want to stick to the pools—don't even think about swimming in the ocean. Trailhead: Kipahulu Visitor Center (Hana Hwy., 10 mi past Hana town), 96713. 30 mins, 1 mi round-trip.

Pipiwai Trail. This moderate 2-mi trek upstream leads to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, pounding down in all its power and glory. Follow signs from the parking lot up the road, past the bridge overlook, and uphill into the forest. Along the way you can take side trips and swim in the stream's basalt-lined pools. The trail bridges a sensational gorge and passes onto a boardwalk through a mystifying forest of giant bamboo. This stomp through muddy and rocky terrain takes around three hours to fully enjoy. It's best done early in the morning, before the touring crowds arrive (though it can never truly be called crowded). Trailhead: On highway toward Oheo bridge, near mile marker 42, 96713. 3 hrs, 4 mi round-trip.

Campsites. Down at the grassy sea cliffs at the Pools of Oheo, you can camp, no permit required, although you can stay only three nights. Toilets, grills, and tables are available, but there's no water and open fires are prohibited. For more information, call the Kipahulu Visitor Center. Visitor Center. 808/

Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area

A good hiking area—and something totally unexpected on a tropical island—is the Kula Forest Reserve at Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area (6,200 feet). During the Great Depression the government began a program to reforest the mountain, and soon cedar, pine, cypress, and even redwood took hold. Today, the area feels more like Vermont than Hawaii. It's cold and foggy here, and often wet, but don't let that stop you from going. There's something about the enormity of the trees, quiet mist, and mysterious caves that will make you feel you've discovered an unspoken secret, and one you'll want to keep to yourself.
To reach the forest, take Route 37 all the way out to the far end of Kula. Then turn left at Route 377. After about ½ mi, turn right at Waipoli Road. First you'll encounter switchbacks; after that the road is just plain bad, but passable. Signs say that four-wheel-drive vehicles are required, though standard cars have been known to make it. Use your best judgment. There are great trails here for all levels, along with a small campground, and a cabin that you can rent from the Division of State Parks. Hikers should wear brightly colored clothing, as hunters may be in the area.
Reservations for the park's one cabin (Box 1049, Wailuku,96793. 808/587-0300) can be made up to a year in advance by calling Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 3:30 pm Hawaiian Standard Time, or by mailing a request in writing. For the campground, you can wait until you arrive in Wailuku and visit the Division of State Parks (54 S. High St., Room 101,Wailuku, 96793. 808/984-8109).

Boundary Trail
This 4-mi moderate trail begins just past the Kula Forest Reserve boundary cattle guard on Polipoli Road, and descends into the lower boundary southward, all the way to the ranger's cabin at the junction of the Redwood and Plum trails. Link it with these trails, and you've got a hearty 5-mi day hike. The trail crosses many scenic gulches, with an overhead of tall eucalyptus, pine, cedar, and plum trees. Peep through the trees for wide views of Kula and Central Maui. Trailhead: Polipoli campground, 96790. 3-4 hrs, 5-mi loop.

Redwood Trail
This easy and colorful hike winds through redwoods and conifers past the short Tie Trail down to the old ranger's cabin. Although the views are limited, groves of trees and flowering bushes abound. At the end of the trail is an old cabin site and three-way junction with the Plum Trail and the Boundary Trail. Trailhead: From parking area at Polipoli campground, walk back up road 0.25 mi and look to your left,96790. 1-2 hrs, 3.4 mi round-trip.

Upper Waiakoa Trail
This scenic albeit rugged trail starts at the Polipoli Access Road (look for trailheads) and proceeds up Haleakala through mixed pine and past caves and thick shrubs. It crosses the land of Kaonoulu to the land of Waiakoa, where it reaches its highest point—7,800 feet. Here you'll find yourself in barren, raw terrain with fantastic views. At this point, you can either turn around, or continue on to the 3-mi Waiakoa Loop. Other than a cave shelter, there's no water or other facilities on either of these trails, so come prepared. Trailhead: Look for signs on Polipoli Access Rd., 96790. 5-6 hrs, 14 mi round-trip.

Kalaupapa Trail
You can take an overnight trip to the island of Molokai for a day of hiking down to Kalaupapa Peninsula and back, by means of a 3-mi, 26-switchback trail. The trail is nearly vertical, traversing the face of some of the highest sea cliffs in the world.
In the Footsteps of Kings
A much neglected hike in southwestern Maui is the 5.5-mi (allow 4 to 6 hours) coastal Hoapili Trail (Follow Makena Alanui to end of paved road at La PĂ©rouse Bay, walk through parking lot along dirt road, follow signs, 96753) beyond the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve. Named after a bygone Hawaiian king, it follows the shoreline, threading through the remains of ancient Hawaiian villages. The once-thriving community was displaced by one of Maui's last lava flows. Later, King Hoapili was responsible for overseeing the creation of an island-wide highway. This remaining section, a wide path of stacked lava rocks, is a marvel to look at and walk on, though it's not the easiest surface for the ankles. (It's rumored to have once been covered in grass.) You can wander over to the Hanamanioa lighthouse, or quietly ponder the rough life of the ancients.
Wear sturdy shoes and bring extra water. This is brutal territory with little shade and no facilities. Beautiful, yes. Accommodating, no.

Iao Valley State Park

In Hawaiian, Iao means "supreme cloud." When you enter this mystical valley in the middle of an unexpected rain forest, you'll know why. At 750 feet above sea level, the 10-mi valley clings to the clouds as if it's trying to cover its naked beauty. If you've been spending too many days in the sun, the cool shade and moist air may be just the welcome change you need.
One of Maui's great wonders, the valley is the site of a famous battle to unite the Hawaiian Islands. Out of the clouds, the Iao Needle, a tall chunk of volcanic rock, stands as a monument to the long-ago lookout for Maui warriors. Today, there's nothing warlike about it: the valley is a peaceful land of lush, tropical plants, clear pools and a running stream, and easy, enjoyable strolls.
To get to Iao Valley State Park, go through Wailuku and continue to the west end of Route 32. The road dead-ends into the parking lot. The park is open daily 7 am to 7 pm. Facilities are available. (For park information call 808/984-8109).
Iao Valley Trail
Anyone (including your grandparents) can take this easy, short walk from the parking lot at Iao Valley State Park. On your choice of two paved walkways, you can cross the Iao Stream and explore the junglelike area. Ascend the stairs up to the Iao Needle for spectacular views of Central Maui, or pause in the garden of Hawaiian heritage plants and marvel at the local youngsters hurling themselves from the bridge into the chilly pools below. Trailhead: Iao Valley parking lot, 96793. 30 mins, 0.5 mi round-trip.

Additional Hikes

Kapalua Resort
The resort offers access to several hiking trails throughout Kapalua's land holdings that are free and open to resort guests and visitors as a self-guided experience. Trail information and maps are available at the Kapalua Adventure Center. Access to most trails is via a complimentary resort shuttle. Corner of Office and Village Rds., Kapalua, 96761.808/665-4386 or 877/665-4386.
Waihee Ridge. This moderately strenuous hike offers a generous reward at the top: breathtaking panoramic views of the windward coast and the ridges that rise inland, as well as Mt. Lanilili, Pu`u Kukui, Eke Crater, and the remote village of Kahakuloa. A picnic table enables you to enjoy a comfortable lunch before making the descent back to your car. It's best to avoid this hike during rainy conditions as the trail can quickly turn into a muddy, slippery affair. Trailhead: From Hwy. 340, turn left across the highway from Mendes Ranch and call box 4. Drive ¾ mi up a partially paved road to a signed trailhead on the left in a pasture, 96793. 2-3 hrs, 4¾ mi round-trip.

Going with a Guide

Guided hikes can help you see more than you might on your own. If the company is driving you to the site, be sure to ask about drive times; they can be long.
Friends of Haleakala National Park.
 This nonprofit offers day and overnight service trips into the crater and in the Kipahulu region. The purpose of your trip, the service work itself, isn't too much—mostly removing invasive plants and light cabin maintenance. Chances are you'll make good friends and have more fun than on a hike you'd do on your own. Trip leader Farley, or one of his equally knowledgeable cohorts, will take you to places you'd never otherwise see, and teach you about the native flora and birds along the way. Visit the Web site to learn more about the trips before calling to make a reservation. Admission is free. 808/248-7660.

Hawaii Nature Center
In Iao Valley, the Hawaii Nature Center leads easy, interpretive rain-forest walks for children and their families. The daily walks, which cost $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for children, include a visit to the Nature Center's interactive museum. Participants must be at least five years old and should wear closed-toe shoes suitable for uneven terrain. Advance reservations are suggested. Another option is to just visit the museum, which costs $6 for adults and $4 for kids (children under four are free). 875 Iao Valley Rd., Wailuku,96793. 808/244-6500.
Hike Maui. Started in 1983, Hike Maui is the oldest hiking company in the Islands. Its waterfall and rain forest, mountain ridge, crater, coastline, and combination hikes are led by enthusiastic trained naturalists who weave botany, geology, ethnobotany, culture, and history into the outdoor experience. Prices range from $75 to $154 for excursions of 3 to 10 hours (discounts are available for advance, online bookings). Private and custom tours are also available. Hike Maui supplies day packs, rain gear, water shoes, mosquito repellent, first-aid supplies, bottled water, lunch and/or snacks for the longer trips, and transportation to and from the site. 808/879-5270 or 866/325-6284.

Maui Hiking Safaris. Hikes with Maui Hiking Safaris are limited to groups of eight or less. Excursions include hikes to waterfalls, Haleakala, rain forests, and more. You can choose two half-day hikes to customize your own full-day tour. Hikes range from $60 to $140. 273 Leolani Pl., Pukalani, 96768. 808/573-0168 or 888/445-3963.

Sierra Club
A great avenue into the island's untrammeled wilderness is Maui's chapter of the Sierra Club. Rather than venturing out on your own, join one of the club's hikes into pristine forests and Valley Isle watersheds, or along ancient coastal paths. Several hikes a month are led by informative leaders who carry first-aid kits and make arrangements to access private land. Some outings include volunteer service, but most are just for fun. Bring your own food and water, sturdy shoes, and a suggested donation of $5—a true bargain. Box 791180, Paia, 96779. 808/

Tips for Day Hikes

Hiking is a perfect way to see Maui. Just wear sturdy shoes to spare your ankles from a crash course in loose lava rock. At upper elevations, the weather is guaranteed to be extreme—alternately chilly or blazing—so layers are good.
When hiking near streams or waterfalls, be cautious: flash floods can occur at any time. Don't drink stream water or swim in streams if you have open cuts; bacteria and parasites are not the souvenir you want to take home with you.
Here's a checklist for what to take for a great hike.
Water (at least 2 quarts per person; drink even if you're not thirsty)
Food—fruit and trail mix
Rain gear—especially if going into the crater
Sturdy hiking shoes
Layered clothing
Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher recommended)
Mosquito repellent (a must around waterfalls and pools)


Several companies on Maui offer horseback riding that's far more appealing than the typical hour-long trudge over a dull trail with 50 other horses.

Our Favorite
Ironwood Ranch

"Best Place to Find Yourself on Horseback" according to Hawaii Magazine's 
"Best of Hawaii" - and  we agree!
Ride beautiful horses through lush, exotic valleys, ironwood forests, and pineapple fields, while enjoying spectacular panoramic views of the outer islands! Nestled in the midst of unspoiled mountain, rain forest and farmland, Ironwood Ranch sits on acres of private land inaccessible to most, but ready and waiting for YOU to explore!  808-669-4991 

Maui Stables.
 Hawaiian-owned and run, this company provides a trip back in time, to an era when life moved more slowly and reverently—though galloping is allowed, if you're able to handle your horse! Educational tours begin at the stable in remote Kipahulu (near Hana), and pass through several historic Hawaiian sites. Before heading up into the forest, your guides intone the words to a traditional oli, or chant, asking for permission to enter. By the time you reach the mountain pasture overlooking Waimoku Falls, you'll feel lucky to have been a part of the tradition. Both morning and afternoon rides are available at $150 per rider. Between mile markers 40 and 41 on Hwy. 37,Hana, 96713. 808/248-7799.

Mendes Ranch.
 Family-owned and run, Mendes operates out of the beautiful ranchland of Kahakuloa on the windward slopes of the West Maui Mountains. Two-hour morning and afternoon trail rides ($110) are available with an optional barbecue lunch ($20). Cowboys will take you cantering up rolling pastures into the lush rain forest to view some of Maui's biggest waterfalls. Mendes caters to weddings and parties and offers private trail rides on request. Should you need accommodations they have a home and bunk for rent right on the property. 3530 Kahekili Hwy., Wailuku, 96793. 808/244-7320 or 800/

Piiholo Ranch
The local wranglers here will lead you on a rousing ride through family ranchlands—up hillside pastures, beneath a eucalyptus canopy, and past many native trees. Morning and afternoon "country" rides last two hours and cost $120. Their well-kept horses navigate the challenging terrain easily, but hold on when axis deer pass by! Private rides and lessons are available. End of Waiahiwi Rd., Makawao, 96768.808/357-5544.

Pony Express Tours.
 Pony Express Tours offers trips on horseback into Haleakala Crater. The half-day ride goes down to the crater floor for a picnic lunch, and is a great way to see the top of the dormant volcano. The company also offers 1½- and 2-hour rides on the slopes of the Haleakala Ranch. Prices range from $95 to $182. 808/