Hosmer Grove Loop Trail

Hosmer Grove Loop Trail - A Short Trail Near Haleakala's Summit
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is a short trail that is a must-visit for ardent bird and tree lovers. Because while it loops only .6 miles, this small stretch of land is home to a great variety of tree and bird species, some of which you won't see anywhere else on the island. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

The Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is a very short hike that starts at the end of a very long drive — but shortness in length does not mean shortness in wonder. If you’re looking to see a different side of Maui, then the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail ought to be on your must-do visitor list.

You will find the trailhead for the Hosmer Grove Loop near the summit of Haleakala, the dormant volcano at the heart of Maui. Before you go, you will want to pack the appropriate cool-weather clothing. That’s because while you may leave a sunny and hot resort behind you, you will enter a whole different climate when you hit the summit of Haleakala. Drizzling rain and cold temperatures with high winds are very common in this area. Dressing in layers is the best way to ensure you are comfortable throughout your time visiting this part of the island. 

In many ways, as you take the winding drive up the mountain, you will feel like you are entering a different state altogether. First, there is the aforementioned weather shift, but then there are also the environmental differences. One of the biggest draws of the Hosmer Grove Trail is that you will get to see vegetation pretty unique to this elevation and part of the island. 

The Hosmer Grove Loop Trail, as its name suggests, circles around in a loop for 0.6 miles. It has about 150-foot elevation difference and this along with its relative evenness makes it a very easy trail that just about anyone can do with minimal issue. A group at a normal pace can complete the entirety of the trail in about 30 minutes. Of course, you can also go more quickly while others may choose to linger and go more slowly, soaking up all the unique sights of the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail. 

If you choose to walk the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail in a clockwise direction (and you can choose clockwise or counterclockwise, either way is fine), you will begin your trek by passing through tall groves of non-native trees. These groves include Douglas fir, cedar, spruce, sugi pine, deodar, and even eucalyptus trees. It’s truly a globally-sourced area and, as you might expect, started intentionally by human hand.

In 1910, Ralph Hosmer (for whom the trail is named) wanted to experiment with various seedlings in part to see whether or not a timber industry could be viable on the island and in part to revive the watershed. Hosmer was a highly respectable forester who would later work to preserve, protect, and expand Hawaiian forests, his efforts leading to the establishment of 800,000 acres of protected forest reserves. But while those later efforts were a success, his alien trees were not as they could never grow fast enough for commercial harvests. 

As you continue on your walk clockwise around the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail, you will encounter a few steps that take you up towards the highest part of the elevation on the trail. Here, the trail opens up onto a more sub-alpine terrain and one filled with native plant varieties. This part of the trail includes some key lookout points and is renowned for being a go-to birdwatching site.

In fact, it is rare for a person to visit the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail and not see birdwatchers out with their binoculars and cameras. The reason they flock to the Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is that you can see two special native species and four different kinds of honeycreepers. The native birds, i’iwi and ‘apapane, are otherwise hard to spot yet they seem to love this part of the Haleakala summit. 

From the open area where these native shrubs and birds are found, it is an easy walk down a soft slope back to the parking lot. 

What’s the Parking Situation?
When you drive through the entrance of the National Park, find the road to Hosmer Grove Campground and drive to the end for the parking lot. Full? Try the Supply Trail parking lot inside down the road.

Insider Tips:
-The Hosmer Grove Loop Trail is rated as easy because it doesn’t have any major inclines or declines, and it is short. However, being in general so high up in elevation (7,000 feet above sea level), means that air is thinner and some individuals are apt to find it harder to breathe. Plan your itinerary accordingly. 
-There is a fantastic rustic campground just off the trailhead here that is ideal for summertime camping. That’s because even during the hottest of days, this altitude equals very comfortable and camp-friendly 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit nighttime temperatures. 
-Reservations are needed to view the sunrise at the Haleakala summit, and that experience is highly recommended. Reserve early and visit Hosmer Grove Loop Trail just after. These twilight hours are especially fantastic for bird-watching on the trail.