Haleakala Downhill TrailheadWell I snuck away from good old Calgary for the holiday season and spent 10 days in Maui. As a geologist I always love getting the chance to see some new rocks, specifically ones that I don’t get to see in these parts very often. Upon arriving in Kahului airport I knew I had a problem on my hands…it was warm and I didn’t have a bike. My plan was to go do some more sky diving and surfing, but I underestimated the amount I would want to ride a bike as soon as the air turned warm.
I made it my mission to find a downhill bike to rent (I mean, there are TWO enormous volcanoes on the island so I figured there had to be some trails somewhere). There were a ton of companies that had bike tours of the Haleakala volcano but they all ran down the paved road on frankly sub-par bicycles. I had all but given up on my quest until by a stroke of luck I saw a silver pick-up truck with a Marzocchi sticker on the window beside decal that said “Crater Cycles”. My mind racing on its single track train of thought immediately came to the conclusion that this shop might have downhill bikes and a staff member willing to tell me where to use it. As soon as I got home I fired up the old Google machine and found the number. It turns out that they do rent downhill bikes and had an idea of where to use them.
The next day my girl and I show up at the shop and are greeted by an amazing staff and a few local bike-shop bums. The rental included all the gear needed as well as a bike rack for our car. Talking to Rob the owner it turns out that they are the ONLY shop on Maui to rent and sell downhill bikes so we really lucked out. They run shuttle tours every so often but due to time constraints could not help us out that way, however a friend of the owner came through and literally offered up 4 hours of his own day to drive us to the top of Haleakala and show us the trail-head for what was one of the most amazing downhill trips of my life.
The trail is not particularly challenging, nor are there amazing jumps or features. What it does offer includes incredible views, changing conditions and incredible speed. The top of the trail starts out around 10,000ft above sea level in what can only be described as something that looks like what I imagine Mars to look like. As you progress over the incredibly fast and loose terrain you begin to see increasing vegetation and suddenly trees. Once we dropped into the single-track portion of the trail I felt like I was in Kamloops which is a very crazy sensation when you see desert above you, and clouds below you. This trail dumps you out just above the rain-forest zone on the mountain which is just another amazing part of this trip. There are literally dozens of little trails that cut between switchbacks on a beautiful single lane paved road. Some have amazing drops and others are incredibly flowy. As you near the end of the descent you end up cruising through ranch land that looks every bit like Scotland.
My advice to anyone who visits Maui, check out Rob at Crater Cycles and ask to rent one of his bikes to do this trail if you love downhill biking. If you do tell him that Tyler and Laura Jayne from Calgary still think that his bike rental and directions made our vacation worth having!
My helmet camera’s battery died about halfway down the trail because I forgot to charge it, but you can see some of the amazing scenery on the trip. We took it pretty easy on the way down because we forgot to buy travelers insurance and health care in the United States is not cheap.
Here is a video from the top of the trail:
Some pictures from further down the trail:
I will add more photos later when I can get to an internet connection that isn’t relayed from my laptop to a drilling rig cell phone repeater through a satellite connection back to civilization.