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Maui Hiking From Summit to Sea

Article by Shannon Wianecki

You may be tempted to spend all waking hours at the beach, but don't miss out on Maui's other natural wonders. Venture through a bamboo forest to find hidden waterfalls, or explore ancient fishing trails dotted with blowholes and sea arches. Indulge your inner astronaut with a trek across a volcanic plain that could mistaken for Mars. Maui offers hikes of astonishing variety, from the sparkling shoreline to the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakala (House of the Sun).

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Hawaii's extreme isolation (it's the world's most remote tall island chain) bestowed its landscape with a boggling array of flowering plants, birds, insects, and creatures. Many are found nowhere else on earth. Galapagos nothing - Darwin would've dropped his jaw over the birds alone had he journeyed to Hawaii. Of the 150 distinct ecosystems that have been identified across the 50th state, nearly every one can be easily experienced on Maui. The following hikes open a door into this diverse and enchanting world.

Haleakala, the House of the Sun

Haleakala National Park offers numerous hikes of varying difficulty - each more awe-inspiring than the next. Tent camping and three wilderness cabins are available to those who book in advance.

Hosmer's Grove
30 minutes, easy
What you'll see: exotic tree species, native alpine and rainforest species, Hawaiian honeycreepers
What to bring: sturdy hiking shoes, bird guides, binoculars

Wander amidst the exotic redwood, cedar, and pine trees at Hosmer's Grove, just inside the park entrance. Maui's first official forester, Ralph Hosmer sought to reforest the mountain that had been denuded of native koa and sandalwood trees. He was only partially successful; the conifers never get cold enough to drop their cones. A looping trail overlooks gulches where remnants of native forest can be seen - and heard. Listen for the metallic call of the sickle-billed iiwi as it feeds on ohia blossoms. The bright green amakihi can often be spotted before you hit the trail; the gregarious native bird likes to dart between the campground's picnic tables.

Waikamoi Cloudforest
3-5 hours, moderate
What you'll see: extremely rare native rainforest species, Hawaiian honeycreepers
What to bring: sturdy hiking shoes, raingear, bird and plant guides, binoculars

Ever wonder what Hawaii looked like before the airplanes arrived - or even before the canoes came ashore? Sign up for a walk back in time. Haleakala National Park staff offers two guided hikes through the pristine native rainforest of Waikamoi Preserve, otherwise restricted to the public. The three-hour "Bird Loop" crosses a verdant gulch, the frequent haunt of rare Hawaiian honeycreepers. The five-hour "Walk on the Wet Side" descends into dense cloudforest on a fern-fringed boardwalk that culminates in an aerie platform - an even better bet for birders. Both hikes start at Hosmer's Grove, just inside the Haleakala National Park entrance. Bird Loop: Mondays and Thursdays, 9am-12pm. Walk on the Wet Side: Third Sunday of every month, 12-5pm. Call one week in advance: (808) 572-4459.

  read more: More Hikes at Haleakala >>