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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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...