Wasnʻt expecting the terrain and wind conditions to be so gnarly and wiped out 15 minutes into the descent. Once I knocked the butterflies out of my stomach it was on!!!
In my two decades as an avid mountain biker never thought I would be blessesd to descend such a gnarly yet epic trail higher than the clouds!
Stunning!! My girlfriend and I attempted to view the sunrise at Haleakala's famed sunrise spot (very close to the summit). Mother Nature had other plans and provided a chilled and intermittent drizzle/rain.
After the chilly start to the day, we set out looking for this trail head. The two descriptions I read in the 'insider' type of travel books both mentioned that the trail head is not actually in Haleakala NP, but it was close by. Neither one actually said where this elusive trail could be found.
As of 9/24/15 the trailhead is no longer accessible by private vehicles (incl 4wd vehicles). You have to park at the summit and walk back to the access road just before the summit lot. It will look like you're heading to the telescope area.
This is where it gets even trickier. There is a fork in this paved road a few hundred yards down. Signage for both options appears ominous, but you are perfectly legal to take the paved road to the left. You may need to crawl over or around the hefty gate.
This paved road continues for about a quarter-half mile with some dramatic views of the Pacific, dark volcanic rock fields and shrubs. Just after passing the impressive radio towers, you'll finally come to the trail head.
The trail itself varies from gradual to fairly challenging decline. The footing can be a bit tough too, as there are parts of the path that have larger loose volcanic rocks.
The trail is definitely wide enough for the mountain bikers (we only saw one) and interesting enough for us hikers. We didn't plan on hiking all the way down to the lavender farm, so we turned around somewhere around 3 miles?? We took two hours to go down and about an hour and change to zip back to the summit parking lot. It was a pretty tough climb up - thin air (almost two miles up!!), no protection from the elements, strong sun (even though it was in the 40s with the wind chill).
Pros: Stunning, one of the most unique terrains on earth, views of the entire island (and several others too!!), barely used, cinder comes, volcanic craters, well-maintained, did I mention the views???
Cons: Hard to find, bit of a haul just to get to the trailhead,
Tips: Wear sunscreen, bring lots of water, leave a car down the mountain if you're adventurous and going to do the whole trail, display your Haleakala NP pass on the rear view mirror at the summit parking lot, take lots of pictures, but leave everything as it is for others to enjoy:-)). What a treasure!!!