Bike ride up (and down) a volcano

A bicycle. One of the most beautiful spots on earth. 35 miles. 10,000 feet of climbing. Feelings of pain and exhaustion waiting to happen. If this is your idea of a great vacation then keep on reading.

Ever since picking up road biking a few months ago, I fantasized about doing a multi-day bike tour in the not so distant future. Adventure Cycling and REI (among others) offer a variety of tours with different difficulty levels, lengths and, of course, locations. In order to get in the mood (and training state) for such a trip, I felt it would be good to get a few longer and intense rides under my belt. The combination of great air fares and the fact that I found out that one can actually ride up Haleakalā on Maui, led me into booking a trip to the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands for mid November. And so I found myself on a beach in Pāʻia in the early morning hours of November 15, in full cycling gear and my Specialized rental bike leaned against a tree nearby—it was time to rock n’ roll.

The following is a description of my own experiences while riding up the volcano, however if you are looking for an even more detailed trip report, I encourage you to visit Mike Jacoubowsky’s definitive guide for riding up Haleakalā.

Starting Out

The adventure started with tipping my toe into the water of the Pacific Ocean, a nice symbolic ritual and it underlines that this ride starts at 0 elevation. After a few pedal strokes, I left the small town of Pāʻia, the official start of the ride. For quite a while, the sides of the road are lined by farmland on one side and little housing and small businesses on the other. But with every minute, the area gets less and less populated. Due to the amount of rainfall this part of the island gets, there is green all around.

After riding for about 6.5 miles and climbing roughly 1,500 feet, I reached the town of Makawao, more than double the size of Pāʻia, with quite some shops and lunch places along Baldwin Ave. After the intersection with Makawao Road, Baldwin Avenue becomes Olinda Road which greeted me right away with a steep 13% climb of around 300 feet in length (which is probably the steepest section of the whole climb, so be relieved to get that out of the way at the beginning).

At the 8 mile marker, I made a right turn onto Hanamu Road, avoiding to continue riding on I-390 and eventually reaching a dead end. So not missing that turn is quite imperative. From Hanamu Road I connected to I-377 (or Haleakala Hwy) via the short Kealaloa Ave. For the next 4 miles, I admired the lush of green to both sides of the road and great views of West Maui, while I was climbing and climbing and climbing…. Conquering that stretch, the area showed signs of civilization again when I reached settlements that are part of the Kula region. The sign for Haleakala National Park, which I have been waiting for finally manifested at mile marker 14 and about 3,400 feet of elevation, directing me onto Crater Road and further up the mountain.

Crater Road

Page 1 of 3 | Next page