Best hikes in "the House of the Sun."
Haleakala Crater perches on top of the island of Maui at a staggering height of 10,023 feet above sea level. Visible from all across the island, the volcanic crater is protected by Haleakala National Park. "Haleakala" means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian, and as the legend goes, "the demigod Maui lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last longer," according to GoHawaii.com.
Even today, the most popular activity in Haleakala National Park is watching the sunrise from the Haleakala Visitor Center. This is "the best spot to watch what may be the most spectacular sunrise on earth," according to GoHawaii. "As the sun peeks over the horizon, an ever-changing swirl of color and light dance across the vast sea of clouds."
In addition to simply watching the sunrise, this 19-square-mile park protects a wilderness crisscrossed by 30+ miles of trails. In this guidebook, you'll find four of the best hikes in the park.
The Sliding Sands Trail descends from the rim, dropping steeply into the crater of the dormant volcano. Here, you'll get to hike among "colorful cinder cones and trails that crunch underfoot," writes Kyle Ellison on Moon.com. Indeed, the landscape feels downright lunar.
In addition to the volcanic crater itself, some of the other most popular hikes are located much lower down the mountain near the coast and lead to thundering waterfalls! The Pipiwai Trail leads to one such 400-foot waterfall "in a sheer-walled lava amphitheater," according to BACKPACKER Magazine.
Whether you choose to hike on the top of a volcano or near the coast, you're guaranteed a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Haleakala National Park.