Set on the slopes of Haleakala at 6,200 feet, Polipoli is very different from Maui’s traditionally warm and sunny sandy shorelines. Polipoli is a forest reserve and home to miles of densely forested trails. The higher altitude provides a cool climate so visitors should prepare accordingly with hiking boots and jackets.
For travelers wanting an upcountry workout, tackle the 3-mile Waiakoa Loop trail that winds through tall groves of Pine, or test your lungs on Skyline Drive that climbs to the Haleakala summit. The most popular trail in Polipoli begins from right at the campground, where you can link together the Plum Trail, Redwood Trail, and Haleakala Ridge Trail to hike for just over 3.5 miles through a rugged corner of cloud forest.
Aside from the numerous trails for hiking, Polipoli also offers mountain biking trails. The Mamane Trail offers scenic overlooks above the tree line and clouds. To wake to the brisk, mountaintop beauty and spend an evening in the forest, you can reserve a camping permit online and pack your own sleeping bag and tent. Rates for visitors are approximately $20/night, and while facilities consist of just a basic outhouse, there are picnic tables and a grassy area for sleeping beneath the stars.
For all of its outdoor offerings, however, Polipoli is sparsely visited because of the difficulty in getting there; the road requires 4WD, and the drive from sea level to the Polipoli campground can take about 90 minutes. Those who make the journey are rewarded with cool, crisp air with scents of Redwoods, quiet sounds of the wind rustling through the trees, and a spectacular view looking out at five different islands and the wide blue Pacific below.