Haleakala Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

18.2
FIETS
35.6 mi
DISTANCE
10,068 ft
GAINED
5.3 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Ray Gurzynski, WA; Dennis Prior, CA; Luke Hise, Phoenix, AZ.

INTRO

Riding by bike from near sea level to the Summit Building just over 10,000' on Haleakala Volcano is one of the greatest cycling challenges and experiences anywhere in the world. On only four other paved bike climbs in the world can you continuously climb so many vertical feet (Mauna Kea 13,863'; Mauna Loa 11,848'; Death Road, Bolivia 11,640'; Wuling Pass, Taiwan 11,349'; and Haleakala 10,068'). This is the #2 US and #15 World ranked bike climb. There are two magnificent sets of hairpins (23 before the park entrance and 8 after).
The average gradient on this climb is 5.3% (6.2% if descents are eliminated).   41% of the climb (14.5 miles) is at 0-5% grade, while 54% (19.4 miles) is at 5-10% with 2.6% (0.9 miles) is at 10-15%.  The steepest quarter mile is 11% and steepest continuous mile 7.8%.  The toughest part of the climb is on the eight upper switchbacks from miles 25.4 to 33 which average 5.2% and are at high altitude (7,100 to 9,300') with significant wind directly in your face for half of them. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  The roadway has always been in excellent condition our five trips up Haleakala between 2011 and 2019. 

Traffic:  Traffic is moderate to moderately heavy for the first 14 miles of the climb before you turn left onto Highway 378 from Highway 377.  After turning onto Highway 378 and beginning the lower hairpins, traffic is lighter and slower. 

Parking:  Paia, where the climb starts, is a tourist town and it can be hard to find parking on the street.  There are two public parking lots in Paia: (1) Paia Town Public Parking off Hana Highway just as you enter town from the west  (Map; Street View) and, (2) Paid parking on Baldwin Avenue on the right just after you leave town (MAP; Street View).
Provisions:  There is one primary stop along this climb for provisions - at the Kula Market at mile 13.4 (map).  Here they have pre-made sandwiches, chips, drinks, coffee, and other foods.  We always stop at Kula Market on our way up the volcano. Although a bit early in the ride, there is also a bakery, market, and restaurants in Makawao (map) around mile 6.8.

Gear:  It will be windy and also can be quite cold, although it can be short sleeve weather at the top particularly during the summer months if you get to the top around noon to early afternoon.  Always check the PJAMM Summit Weather tool before your climb and even if it looks nice, bring at least a windbreaker - and much warmer clothing if the weather is anything other than perfect. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
Three times we've flown into Kahului Airport which is only eight miles from the beginning of the Haleakala climb, and have been able to do the climb the day of arrival.  Climbing on day of arrival is possible, but not recommended.  We also enjoy riding the Road to Hana while visiting Maui -- in our opinion, there is no better way to experience The Road to Hana than by bike. 

Stop at the Visitor Center on your way down the Volcano - it will be on your right 7/10's of a mile  from the Summit Parking Lot (Map; Map + Google Reviews)

See All Trails:  Best trails in Haleakala National Park if you are interested in hiking on the volcano. 

Of course Maui has no shortage of accommodation choices, but one option is to stay in or near the unique town of Paia near the start of the climb, where there are also vacation rentals.

ROUTE MAP

MEMBER RATING

Difficulty: Extreme
4.8
Road
3.5
Traffic
4.8
Scenery

CURRENT WEATHER

NEARBY CLIMBS (0) RADIAL PROXIMITY

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MEMBER REVIEWS & COMMENTS

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Jun 29, 2021
difficulty: Extreme
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 5
Jun 29, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 5
I trained for this ride on Zwift for 4 months. After reading all the reviews, I decided to bring the following supplies. 3 energy gels, 2 granola bars, 1 cliff bar, 3 energy bake (carb and sugar), 1 packet of energy chews, rain jacket, knee warmers and 2 water bottles. At the end of the ride I had consumed all the food but 1 energy bake. There are three places to refill your water bottles. The first one is Rodeo General Store at 6.9 miles from the starting point (Paia fish market), the second one is Kula Market Place at 13.5 miles. (it has bathrooms), and the third one is the Visitor's Center at 25.7 miles. You need to fill both bottles at the 2nd and the 3rd stops. The rain jacket and the knee warmers were the ride savers. Be aware of sudden temp drops and rain. Just keep going, then you will be in the sun again. The last 1000ft climb will really challenge your endurance. This is a ride to remember.
Jun 29, 2021
Just completed on 5/28/2021 following the week before the CHEAHA Challenge Ultra 126 miles 13,000 feet in Alabama. Rented a bike and had a guide from Maui Cyclery and highly recommend these guys. This is one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done but was climbing the moment I started. I only saw one rider coming down and rode along one other till 5000 feet and passed one. The ride after 6500 feet definitely picked up and above 8000 feet I was starting to feel the change in altitude. Make sure you have plenty packed for once you pass the ranger station. I had an issue with my Garmin and this was really on my mind the last 3000 feet but was able to capture the ride from the rider I had passed on the way up. Pack a jacket for the ride down it got really chilly but what a great day weather I had. Grab some pictures on the way up because the clouds rolled in and all I could see was the road in front of me on the decent that only took a little over an hour. Thanks to all that assisted.
Jun 16, 2021
difficulty: Extreme
scenery: 5
traffic: 3
road: 5
Jun 16, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 3
road: 5
Just completed this on Wednesday June 9th, 2021 in a little over 5 hours. I didn't see anyone else climbing the day I completed but saw tons who had rented bikes and road down. I have only been cycling since August and started heavily training with climbs all around Phoenix for about 2-3 months prior to the climb. The gradient of the ride wasn't hard but you absolutely have to stay very hydrated and make sure you have tons to eat throughout the journey. I burned over over 3500 calories while completing this ride. Thankfully I had my fiancee and son as my supply car so I didn't have to carry too much on me. It really gets harder after you pass the visitors center with the hardest part being the last 1000 or so feet of elevation. However the views at this point are some of the most amazing I have experienced. It's such a surreal experience to be riding above the clouds.
May 16, 2021
difficulty: Extreme
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 4
May 16, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 4
First ever Summit for me. I trained for this after doing it virtually on the Peloton. Completed in March 2, 2021 in 5 hours and 50 minutes. My goal was to complete it and not kill myself doing it. Got hard around 9500 ft due to the lack of oxygen but other than that the ride went well. I was not in amazing shape or anything a power to weight ratio of 3.0 but it was just a matter of keeping the legs moving and eating enough food. The day I did it, 2 other riders were attempting it, 1 did not make it, another guy made it but had to beg for food in the parking lot. So don't underestimate it. It was an amazing emotional journey for me. So glad I did it. #WolfHills
Apr 10, 2021
difficulty: Extreme
scenery: 4
traffic: 3
road: 5
Apr 10, 2021
scenery: 4
traffic: 3
road: 5
This is a must do climb due to the challenge and the unique nature of being able to start on the beach and end up over 10,000 feet. You visit a few different places on this climb - the lower part is agricultural Hawaii, next you are in more of a tropical rain forest, then typically some clouds as you start the upper part, and finally very volcanic (and usually clear) closer to the top. The gradient is never terrible, but most of the harder parts are higher up. The difficulty with this climb is the length. Takes lots to eat and drink, and proper clothing as it will be much colder at the top and when descending the upper part. The visitor center about 25 miles in has water and toilets. Save some energy for the descent - it can take awhile! You can park at the beach in Paia and get supplies in town before you start (or after you finish). There are bike shops in Paia and other place on the island where you can rent good bikes
ROUTE MAP
PROFILE TOOL

Climb Profile Not Found
CLIMB SUMMARY

PJAMM Cycling - Haleakala Crater and summit - drone photo

Cycling Haleakala Volcano, Maui, Hawaii

Aerial Sphere Photo:  

Center - Haleakala Crater; center right - Summit and approach to summit

The Haleakala volcano route, located within Haleakala National Park in Maui, is a US Top 10 Most Epic Bike Climb.

“Haleakala is a giant and classic road bike climb that is among the most difficult in the world. From the corner of Hana Highway and Baldwin Avenue in the small town of Paia on the island of Maui, head up an easy and gradually increasing grade for 7.1 miles to the town of Makewao. At the intersection with Makewao Avenue go straight up the hill over a short steep stretch as Baldwin Avenue becomes Olinda (do not turn right on Makewao Ave as some suggest. This adds 1.5 miles of flat riding within much more traffic). Climb for one mile on Olinda and turn right on Hanamu for another flat mile to the junction of Route 377. Turn left on fairly shallow 377 for ~five miles to its junction with Route 378. Turn left on 378 which will take you the rest of the way up the mountain (only 7,000 feet to go!).

Start the climb at sea level and finish 10,000’ later!!

The road soon begins to travel through big switchbacks up the hill, endless climbing it can seem, crossing four cattle guards along the way. Just beyond the fourth one you come to the National Park entrance gate where you must stop and pay $5 (yes, even bikes) [PJAMM note:  $15 2021]. The Visitor’s Center is one mile further up the road (water). The terrain becomes increasingly rocky and volcanic at this point with great views of the distant Pacific Ocean on a clear day. Continue climbing through more shallow grade and soon you are riding through a moonscape of black lava. Almost to the top you reach the upper Visitor’s Center where you turn right. The climb finishes at the shelter at over 10,000 feet (ride up the paved trail to the very top).

This climb is so long so make sure you take plenty of food and fluids. The descent is wild and long and can be cold (and wet) so carry what you might need (you may see groups on the way up who are only descending the hill). There is an annual race on Haleakala as well.” (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 176.)

Before traveling to Hawaii for your Haleakala cycling adventure, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.

What You Should Know About Biking/Climbing Haleakala:

First, and foremost . . .

This is one amazing place to ride your bike  👍🚲🌋🚲👍

There’s nothing quite as incredible as road biking Maui.  Haleakala is an epic and challenging volcanic climb that takes you into a National Park on one of the most beautiful Hawaiian Islands.  The 35 mile climb from Paia to the Haleakala Lookout and the Visitor Center (located half a mile below the lookout) shares its first eight miles with another US Top 100 Climb: Baldwin Avenue/Olinda Road.  From Paia, a small town of just over 2,000 with several restaurants and small shops to occupy your time pre- or post-ride, you’ll ride eight miles on Baldwin (which turns into Olinda Road at Makawao Avenue at the seven mile mark), turn right onto Hanamu where you’ll ride for one mile, then turn left onto Haleakala Highway where you’ll be for the remaining 26.8 miles to the top.

On top of the world -- six times up and it never gets old. 👍🚴🗻🚴👍

More on Paia Town:

This Hawaiian town is the perfect spot to immerse yourself in Maui’s North Shore surf culture.  Paia solidified itself as a Bohemian Mecca when it became landing place for many of the 1960’s Counterculture “hippies” (hey, that’s my era, by the way!) once they left San Francisco.  Now considered the “incarnation of Hawaii small town charm,” (Paia Town) you can enjoy all sorts of experiences in this unique town -- from yoga studios and coffee shops to health food stores, delicious seafood, and world class surfing -- you won’t regret making a little extra time on your trip for a stop in Paia. 

Start of our Haleakala Volcano bike climb in Paia, Maui

 Start the climb in Paia.

When to Climb Haleakala by Bike:

The climb begins in Paia, a very dry area.  During the winter months (November through February) there is on average only a 20% chance of rain.  The lowest rainfall month is June, followed by July.  The temperature can be a factor at the lower levels, so be prepared for that.  There is no chilly time to begin a climb in Paia (low-average high is 80 degrees in January and the high-average high is 87 degrees in August).  The warmest months at the top of Haleakala are June through August and the lowest rainfall happens in May through August.  Factoring in all these meteorological variables, we suggest June as the best month to climb Haleakala.  Of the five times PJAMM Cycling has completed this climb, three have been in June, and all three of these climbs were fine from bottom to top.

Start of our Haleakala Volcano bike climb in Paia, Maui 

We can experience all kinds of weather along our 35 mile climb

Check PJAMM’s Forecast (on the climb card above right top of this page) in advance.

How to Climb Haleakala by Bike: 

Train well because this is is one of the hardest climbs in the world (#2 US/#18 World) at 36 miles and 10,331 feet gained at a 5.3% average grade.  The road is paved to the top and never too steep -- the steepest half mile is the last stretch to the summit which is 9%, but at 10,000 feet.  Unlike Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island, there are two spots to pick up food and drink along the Haleakala route so you need not over stock from the start.  Makawao is six miles from start and has markets and bakery, and the Kula Market is 13.5 miles up on Highway 377 (down a slight hill on the right, not readily visible from the road -- next to Kula Lodge & Restaurant).

Check out the PJAMM May 2018 Great Hawaiian Adventure Blog and Trip Page to see what we were up to on one of our recent cycling trips to Hawaii.

Start of our Haleakala Volcano bike climb in Paia, Maui 

On Baldwin Ave for the first seven miles.

Riding by bike past the Haleakala park sign

Highway 377 for 5 miles at 5.3%.

 

Even the highways are beautiful in Hawaii!

Highway 377 11 miles from the start.

It’s not uncommon to encounter rainbows in Hawaii, as is frequently evidenced along this climb.

   Riding by bike past the Haleakala park sign

        Last 20 miles are on Highway 378 (Haleakala Highway).

 

At mile 9.2 we turn onto Haleakala Highway (Highway 377).  At Mile 14, Highway 377 and Haleakala Highway part ways and we turn left and begin a series of spectacular switchbacks that rival those of Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, California (by our count there are 24 on this climb, which is a few more than Palomar).  The scenery is gorgeous on the way up and the road surface excellent with generally good shoulders and bike lanes.

Riding bikes up Hwy 377 to Haleakala Summit 

The climb feels safe, particularly after turning onto Highway 378.

Cycle to Kula Marketplace for rest on way to Haleakala 

Kula Market at Mile 13.5.

Bike climb Haleakala Volcano - PJAMM cyclists eating lunch Kula Market 

Lunch at the Kula Market.

Cycling Haleakala Volcano - aerial drone photo of hairpin curve, green grass and roadway

Some of the lower Haleakala switchbacks as seen via aerial drone photographs.

There are 23 hairpins before the park entrance.

6.9 miles of hairpins at 6.5% beginning at mile 14.2.

Climbing Haleakala Volcano  by bike - road altitude markers, roadway, clouds and bike

Along the lower hairpins are blue elevation markers painted on the roadway from 4,500’ to 6,000’.

Climbing Haleakala Volcano  by bike - John Johnson with bike at 10,000' sign

After entering the park, altitude markers are signed.

This is a 2011 photo -- sign gone as of January 2020.

Fee to enter on bike in 2018 was $12, but had raised to $15 in January 2020. 

Enter the park at mile 24.5, where you’ll have 11.1 miles, 3,340’ at 5.5% to go.  There is water at Haleakala National Park Headquarters at mile 25.6.  This national park was established in 1961, consists of 33,265 acres, and has about 1,100,000 annual visitors.

Eight mostly giant hairpins for 7.8 miles beginning mile 25.4.

Range from 0.25 to 1.2 miles between turns.

The final approach to the Visitor Center and summit.

Bicycling Haleakala Volcano  - road sign to summit or observatories

Turn right for the final 9% climb to the summit, or left to the Visitor Center.

Top and bottom left photos are of the Visitor Center.

Best bike climb in US - cyclists, observatories, sky, ocean, clouds

. . . stay straight to the Haleakala Observatory.

The views from the summit are some of the best you will ever experience -- Haleakala is world famous for a good reason!

View of sunrise on Haleakala Volcano Summit

Whether at sunrise, or . . .

 Ride your bike to Haleakala Summit Building for sunset.

. . . sunset, Haleakala is breathtaking.

Top left: Haleakala as seen from Hana Highway a few miles east of Paia.

Top right:  Flying from Oahu, Haleakala in foreground, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa background.

Bottom: flying into Maui.

Although it really cannot be done via a bicycle, driving up to the summit by car before sunrise and watching the sun rise dramatically through and above the clouds surrounding this volcano is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences you will not regret. However, be aware that you will need a permit for sunrise.  See permitting information below from the National Park Service:

“Beginning February 1, 2017, visitors in personal or rental vehicles wishing to view sunrise at Haleakalā National Park will need to make sunrise viewing reservations ahead of time at recreation.gov.  You can call the reservation line at 1-877-444-6777 to make a reservation over the phone.  A small number of last-minute tickets are released online two days beforehand at 4:00 PM HST. The website will show tickets as sold out until 4:00 PM.  Please note that calling the park directly, or visiting in-person, will not result in a reservation since staff at Haleakalā National Park are unable to make reservations for you.  No reservations for sunset are required at this time.” (as of December, 2018) (US National Park Service - Haleakala).

Ride your bike to Haleakala Summit Building for sunset.

PJAMM with Jean from North Carolina.  She is the best.

Jean insisted on making us sandwiches at the top.  Thank you for your generosity Jean!

Bike Rentals:

Those who favor Specialized are well served at Island Biker (islandbiker.com); Maui Cyclery (gocyclingmaui.com) also has rentals and is actually right at the start of the Haleakala and Baldwin climbs.

Climb Location:

The climb up Haleakala begins at the intersection of Highway 36 (Hana Highway) and Baldwin Avenue (20.91605, -156.38119 latitude/longitude), seven miles from Kahului International Airport.  Note that an alternate beginning to this ride is just outside Kahului Airport at the intersection of Hana Highway and Haleakala Highway (Highway 37).  This alternate route intersects the preferred route 8.7 miles and 1,905 feet up the volcano at the intersection of Highway 37-377/Haleakala Highway.  Beginning at Paia gets you to that intersection at 9.1miles/1,989 feet.  The Paia route is more scenic with less traffic and is by all accounts a superior beginning route.

Road biking Maui is unbelievably challenging, but unbelievably worth it.

cycling Haleakala Volcano, road, steep grade sign, blue sky

Longest cruiser descent in the US.

Mauna Loa has rollers and ascents on the “descent,”

Mauna Kea has 4.7 miles of tough gravel.

Leaving Haleakala as the best descent.

One of the Hardest bike climbs in the US and world - Haleakala Volcano - nene crossing sign and roadway

Haven’t seen one yet . . . but, beware, I guess . . . 

ALTERNATE ROUTE TO HALEAKALA SUMMIT

From the start of the Waipoli climb to Haleakala Summit is the #2 most difficult climb in the U.S. (33.8 miles/10,021 feet/ 5.9% average grade/Fiets 18.68; we did not rank it because it is impassable on a road bike)​.  From Waipoli Road at about mile 13 to Haleakala Summit is roughly 18.2 miles/7,185 feet/8.9%/Fiets 17.12 -- that alone would be #6 U.S.  This is not manageable on a road bike, so we do not include it on our list, but at 18.68 Fiets it ranks #2 U.S. and #6 World (we do not rank it because it cannot be done on a road bike).  See the RideWithGPS route for more information.


PJAMM Strava Buddy Ray Gurzynski writes of this spectacular adventure:


This route is similar to Mauna Kea in the sense that the hardest part is an unpaved upper section which finally blessedly reverts to pavement near the top. Also like Mauna Kea, the unpaved section varies from challenging to marginally rideable to it's walk-a-bike time. I have not ridden MK but have been up there in a vehicle so I feel qualified to make this comparison.


One difference perhaps is that the MK section is periodically graded, which creates a substantial variable in the difficulty equation. While it would never be "easy", if a rider had the good fortune to ride MK right after a grading it might be slightly less terrible, that being as kind a description as I'd use for that beastly stretch!

Skyline Trail sign on bike ride up backside of Haleakala Volcano.   

 

    Cycling Skyline Trial to Haleakala


The Skyline Ridge Trail on Haleakala is a typical doubletrack jeep/4x4/logging/fire road (regional terminology varies but they're all about the same -- I'm sure you get the idea).  The upper portion of the SRT was the worst. My impression was that it has been graded in the past, but not anytime recently. it was very chunky: think lava landscape rocks from golf to baseball-sized for the full width. This stuff was simply unrideable in a few places. In fact, it was difficult to walk in, let alone push my bike, and I was wearing nice wide soled Teva sandals (sort of a trademark of mine -- I like getting off my bike and walking like a human, rather than hobbling about like an injured bird.  But I digress…).

The MK unpaved section obviously is very heavily traveled, thus they have to keep it at least driveable. The SRT gets essentially no traffic save for hikers, some downhill mountain bikers, and very occasionally someone like me doing it uphill. There's a mere handful of us on Strava. And I suppose official personnel periodically check on it's condition, but seemingly very, very infrequently. Then thankfully there is pavement again near the top, access roads to the observatory stuff and the connector road over to the main tourist summit building.

John, I of course do not know if anyone has brought this route to your attention before me, but I would be very curious to get your thoughts on it, and to see how it would fare when entered into your magic climb rating algorithm.

Perhaps it deserves an asterisk, an honorable mention, or a subset letter postscript like the private property-crossing climb The Bear (6A).

Thank you for you contribution Ray.  PJAMM took this one on with a cross bike and 40mm tires in May 2018.

Gravel section on the way up.

That’s a wrap!