Ka'uiki Head
Puu Maneoneo
Luala'ilua Hills

Dec 14, 2016
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 Profiles: 1 2 3


My toes had gotten pretty battered the past two days in hiking Haleakala National Park, primarily from that first day that had enough rain and wet vegetation to have my feet soaked most of the day. Not a good thing if you're going to put in mileage. Today would be a rest day of sorts, driving around Halekala on the Hana and Pilani Highways, tagging a handful of easy summits that I could find accessible. I started the Hana Hwy the night before, driving nearly half of it with a full moon illuminating the towering clouds that partially filled the sky and giving the landscape a fine, soft glow. I slept at a wide turnout along the highway and found only a few cars using the road after 10p when I settled down and when I awoke around 6a. I drove the rest of the way to Hana in the morning with occassional showers, stopping to visit a few waterfalls before finding my way to Hana. There are countless fruit stands, taco trucks and all manner of roadside stops to entice the road warriors to pause for a snack. Banana bread seems to be a big item at many of these stops, but I'll have to read the online reviews to find if they're any good because I wasn't really there to sample the cuisine.

Puu Okahaula

There is a large stone cross on the west side of Hana that sits atop the lower summit of Puu Okahaula. The land, and much of the Hana area it seems, is owned by the Hana Ranch. The public is permitted to hike the paved road to the cross starting from a large parking lot in town. The highpoint of Puu Okahaula is just north of the cross and requires some fairly heavy bushwhacking from the pavement. Luckily the distance is short and the bushwhacking is the soft variety - muddy and head-high grass, some ducking under low trees and such, but nothing horrific. Pigs have made trails through the brush and cows have visited the highpoint. Three large trees are found at the top, their trunks protected by wire mesh, probably to keep the cows from damaging them. The stone cross is worth a visit, too, meticulously kept up with nice surrounding grounds. One could imagine a nice outdoor wedding here, except for that darn 20-foot cross which would seem out of place. The highpoint has absolutely no views, but the cross is open to views in all directions and it makes a nice place to view the town of Hana, Hana Bay, and Kauiki Head.

Kauiki Head

This is the more interesting summit in the town of Hana. The shortest approach is from Hana Bay on the north side, which I tried first. There is a use trail at the east end of the harbor that goes along the shore out towards Pu'ki'i Island. I tried using this, then heading steeply uphill, only to run into cliffs. I backed off, went and climbed Puu Okahaula, then came back for a second try. The trick is to utilize the parking and trail for Red Sand Beach which is a secluded (but rather popular) beach on the south side of Kauiki Head. I parked in front of the Hana School, then walked to the end of the road where an open grass field owned by the county leads to the start of the Red Sand Beach Trail. Across the field, to the left of the RSB Trail, can be seen a couple of storage containers next to the school. I went up this way, fairly easy cross-country in a jungle understory until I came across a good use trail. This makes things even easier, except for the small homeless encampment found 3/4 of the way to the top. Nobody was home, so I went past the tent to continue to the top where I found no views but a classic Hawaiian benchmark of the sort they put up 100yrs ago around the islands. The trail looked to continue down the north side and I followed it in hopes of finding my way down to Hana Bay. Instead, it ran into another guy's tent and this dude was home. As I did for the first tent, I announced my arrival with a "Hello!", then paused while the guy scrambled to put his clothes on before addressing me. Long story short, the guy said the trail does NOT go down to the harbor. Back I went. I followed the use trail to see where it originates, and this was the best part of the hike. It follows a somewhat open ridgeline down to the south with gorgeous views of the coastline and a stunning view looking almost straight down on Red Sand Beach. Eventually it dropped me off on the RSB Trail where it goes by some lava tidepools before following a narrow ledge down into the beach proper. There were plenty of folks sunning themselves here, along with yet another homeless guy. Hana appears to be FILLED with homeless and near-homelessness. Most are on the youngish side, but there are guys my age and older as well. It's hard to imagine living on the very fringe of civilization both physically and financially. After checking out the beach I followed the trail back to the grass field and the van. Oh, and the entire beach and access route are also owned by Hana Ranch.


This is a coastal point much like Kauiki Head, found 1.5mi south of town. Koki Beach on the southeast side is the only reasonable starting point because there is THICK vegetation on the other sides and fences with ranch folks working around it. At the southwest point next to the beach, there is a use trail heading steeply up that side. There are multiple ropes found tied to trees to help with muddy conditions and I thought this one was going to be pretty cool. Until I ran into a more elaborate homeless camp about halfway up. The area was littered with plastic water bottles and other trash. Two kittens mewed on my approach, evidently hoping I was bringing breakfast with me. This place looked spooky like the guy living there might actually attack me. I backed off and decided I'd had enough of Hana.

Puu Hele

Ok, not quite done with Hana. I followed the narrow road to Koki Beach around Hokuula for another mile, parking at a muddy turnout in front of an old ranch gate. No signs here, no homeless dudes, just a short grassy walk (grassy walks in Hawaii are often more work than it sounds - the grass can be very tall and it's difficult to see the rocks and your footing through the stuff) to this small rounded bump. Views nice, but not great.

I continued driving clockwise around the island, eventually reaching Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu about 9mi southwest of Hana. The famous Seven Pools are located here along with a popular trail going to two waterfalls. I followed the trail to the first of these, Makahika Falls, but was discouraged that there are so many signs prohibiting access to the various swimming holes that can be seen enroute. Aside from a pretty cool banyan tree, I thought the muddy hike was a dud and left the park without bothering with the Seven Pools. Probably can't swim in those either.

Puu Maneoneo

Past the national park, the Hana Hwy becomes SR31 or the Pilani Hwy and it's here that the road gets a little rough. Most of it is paved, albeit not great, but any car can navigate it. The potholes are very few and the scenery is just stunning - grass, wind and rock in majestic settings. Much of the land appears to be owned by ranching concerns, but it's not always obvious because there aren't a lot of No Trespassing signs and there aren't a lot of fences. Some of the land is State Forest Reserve, but again it's hard to know which is which. All the makings of Plausible Deniability, I say. I stopped along the highway for another short hike to a small, grassy hill. This one was most excellent. The quarter mile hike takes you out to a wonderful little hill overlooking the lava fields at Apole Pt and the southern coast of Maui. It was very windy but warm and one could have easily spend longer taking a nap here.

Lualailua Hills

Further west is a collection of old volcanic vents on the broad south side of Haleakala, just north of the road, that are called the Lualailua Hills. There is a convenient turnout at the base of the grass and scrub-covered hills. The highpoint is 3/4mi from the road, not immediately visible until one climbs up one of the foreground hills. I spent more than an hour covering two and half miles as I wandered over most of the bumps in the process, scaring off a small herd of feral goats along the way. There is some moderate bushwhacking, really just a lot of high-stepping over knee-high stuff, but it was a delightful romp with very green slopes and fine coastal views. The land here is unfenced and unsigned as well, but probably all private property. Luckily no one came out to yell at me.

I eventually ended up on Waipoli Rd to spend the night above 3,000ft, a fairly comfortable nighttime temperature found here. Oh, an a pretty nice view overlooking West Maui with a pretty good sunset thrown in...


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