Family Travel: Hiking Diversity at Haleakalā, IMG Cred: National Parks

 NPS Volunteer, Matt Wordeman, in Action!


One of the most diverse national parks in our amazing system, Haleakalā National Park boasts stark contrasts of volcanic remains, rain forests, stunning coastline, wetlands, and even deserts.  The two-hour drive to the summit of Mt. Haleakalā takes you through as many ecological zones as you would pass if you drove from Mexico to Canada!!  Numerous rare animals and plants, more of which are endangered than exist in any other national park in our country, call this park home.  Get ready to explore the diverse Haleakalā.

Haleakalā is a near perfect national park to explore on foot.  Hiking trails run throughout the diverse landscapes offering hikes through cinders from ancient volcanic ruins, deserts, sub-tropical rain forests and backcountry.


Numerous day hikes are available for hikers limited on time, but campgrounds and cabins are available on major trails as well.  Two main trailheads lead you into the Wilderness Area of Haleakalā: Halemau’u and Keonehe’ehe’e- both starting out at an elevation greater than 8,000 feet- these are not for the faint of heart.  Near the Haleakalā Crater, hike in and around 35 miles of trails leading your family through this diverse and stunning landscape; this summit area allows for brief tours to day-long exploration.  The remote Kīpahulu area of Haleakalā can be accessed first by car, and then also numerous self-guided and guided hiking trails that hug the coastline.  If your kids can handle a four-mile hike (roundtrip), be sure to do the Pīpīwai Trail that leads you to the 400-ft Waimoku Falls. Although camping is available, the conditions in this part of the park are extremely remote without running water or facilities.

A quick stop at any visitor center can give you detailed information about trails, weather, and restrictions due to seasons or your hiking abilities. In addition to offering tips, the rangers offer numerous guided hikes and talks throughout the year helping your family to connect with the natural scene in a much greater way.   Some of the hikes offered through the Nature Conservancy, such as the Waikamoi Cloud Forest Hike or the Walk on the Wet Side Hike, can take you into places restricted to regular park visitors, so be sure to inquire about programs and offerings.

Interactive Junior Ranger programs are available at all Visitors’ Centers and are a great way to not only keep your little ones entertained and engaged, but to truly educate them about their surroundings.  Pre-filled hiking backpacks are available at local libraries for pickup and a great compliment to your child’s trip.
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photo: Courtesy of National Park

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