When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.
First of all, hiking on the Haiku Stairs is illegal, and the stairs are officially closed! A $1000 fine and an appearance in court was something we wanted to circumvent. This fine really exists! Therefore, we had chosen the more difficult and challenging trail through the Moanalua Valley. However, even trespassing the Haiku Stairs will be prosecuted, but usually, there isn't any police at the top. And obviously, when you reach the popular stairs, you want to access them and take the best snap of your whole vacation. We only recommend to hike up and down the legal way. Otherwise, you may get into serious trouble. We even saw a police helicopter while walking a part of the stairs.
Update March 2020: Hiking up and down the Haiku Stairs is still illegal. There is more security now and a regular police presence. Occasionally police helicopters check if people are on the stairs. The only way not running into police and to avoid this $1.000 fine is the legal way on the Moanalua Track. A guide is not necessary, but good preparation for the Moanalua Track is relevant! Check out our Packing List below.
Most important for the hike is the weather. Pick out the day with the most stable weather and if it was dry the day before even better. Although Honolulu is dry rain may occur in the valley and on the ridge. The weather is more changeable, the higher you get. You can’t avoid getting muddy brown-red on this adventurous path. Don’t underestimate the trail difficulties. Much needed for the steep ascent and descent back through muddy and slippery soil are “mini” crampons. If you want to use the provided ropes gloves may be necessary, too. Do you like to do the hike and see these excellent views down the stairs? Then read all our insights on how to be prepared and experience one of the most thrilling hikes in your life.
Hiking Conditions and Crowds on Oahu - Hawaii
The Moanalua Valley, especially the ridge to the Keahiakahoe summit and also the Haiku Stairs, experience a lot of rain even during the drier season in summer. The exhausting hike can be done all year, but it’s easier to cope with all difficulties in the drier season. There is often a strong wind and fog, which makes hiking along the ridge more challenging. Read on for detailed tips by season.
Spring (Low Season; March-mid-June)
It starts to get drier, but the trail is still extremely muddy and slippery. The Moanalua stream may have low flow and fording or hopping from stone to stone is necessary a couple of times. This improves in June, and the stream may be dried out. This is what we experienced. The temp along the trail is above 70°F, but it gets chilly on the ridge and the top due to the strong wind. The islands are not much crowded in spring. It starts to get busier in June, but still acceptable. June is one of the best months for this hike. Nevertheless, always check the weather forecast before; flooding can happen.
Summer (Peak Season; late June-August)
It’s drier, but the humidity is higher. It gets hot while hiking and climbing and you may sweat a lot. If possible don’t travel to Oahu in July and August. Prices are at the highest and hotels are booked to capacity.
Autumn (Low Season; September-November)
Usually, September is also one of the best months for this adventure. The stream may be dried out, and it’s easy to walk the first 2.8 miles / 4.5 km. It’s less busy on the island, and the temps are pleasant. October is fine as well. November gets wetter, and trail conditions are getting worse. Monitor the clouds on the mountain ridge. It may be possible to hike, but it’s even more difficult and dangerous in rain and clouds. We don't recommend hiking in the rain.
Winter (Shoulder and Peak Season; December-February)
Expect more rain during the winter. It’s more likely that the Moanalua stream gets flooded. The north and east experience more rainfall. It’s the coldest time of the year but still up to 80°F in Honolulu in the daytime. It's possible to hike the trail but expect the worst conditions when climbing up. The way back is even more slippery than usual. Again: don't hike in rain and clouds!! The first part of December is still not too busy, but it gets crowded from the second half of December and in January. Although it’s not the best time for Hawaii hotels are fully booked, and the sky is the limit for hotel rates. In February crowds improve but still busy.
The Ballroom Overhang is a hiking highlight in the Paparoa National Park. This trail includes 8 river crossings one way and can be hiked only in right weather conditions. The Fox River shouldn’t be higher than your knees at the first crossing. Check the weather forecast before hiking. Consider if there is rain predicted the water level can rise quickly and hikers can get trapped. It’s dangerous to hike here in flood. Weather Forecast Punakaiki Area
It’s a mild climate due to the close location to the sea. Weather in NZ and especially on the West Coast is very changeable. You can experience 25°C / 77°F one day and the next day heavy rainfall and much colder temps. The warmest months are November to March. If you camp consider the average low night temps of around 10°C / 50°F. The average day temps are below 20°C / 68°F but can reach up to 30°C / 86°C in summer. Nights are pretty chilly from May to September. Rain is very common coming from the Tasman Sea on the West Coast on average each month more than 200 mm except February which is usually a little drier. Generally, spring (Sep.-Nov.) is the wettest time of the year.
Where to Stay Nearby:
The best months for a sunrise tour to the top of Mount Hehuanshan or Hehuan are during the driest time of the year from December until March. The sunlight has a little variation from summer to winter rising in June shortly after 5 and in January around 6.40. Read our must-know tips below. If you're interested in detailed weather information jump directly to our Detailed Monthly Weather guide for Mount Hehuanshan.
6 Quick Must-Know Tips | Including Sunrise and Weather Forecast
Sunrise view in November
Before we continue with the weather details and more tips below, check out the most important things you should know:
- Best Hotels in Cingjing Farm - Renai: Via booking.com with low price guarantee. Bookmark the booking page to save time and money! Cingjing Farm is the closest place. From there you drive 40 minutes to Mt. Hehuanshan. Some visitors arrange a tour to Mt Hehuanshan from their hotel there! You can also drive on your own.
- Basic Info Song Syue Lodge: The highest hotel in Taiwan. Located at an elevation of 3150 meters on Mt Hehuanshan. It’s hard to book a room there since it's difficult in English. Read this TripAdvisor post for more details: TripAdvisor - Foreigner Booking at Song Syue Lodge. However, you should only book there if you’re sure about the weather (read below). Most visitors let their hotel where they stay before do the booking.
- Sunrise vs Other Times: Experience the sunrise up there at Mt Hehuanshan is a once in a lifetime experience. Like one visitor said after he returned: ‘Now, my life is complete!’ But still, any other time on the mountain besides sunrise is also amazing. The views are just stunning! Believe us!
- Watching the Sunrise: Most visitors watch the sunrise from the lodge only. We highly recommend to walk for at least 10-15 minutes on the trail for a much better experience (read more below about the trails). You don’t have to walk the whole east trail to the peak, as it can be difficult due to the altitude. However, believe us when we say walk at least a little.
- Rental Car Tip: Don’t make the mistake and book your rental car on the spot (at the airport etc.). You’ll pay a lot more and it’s not even guaranteed to get one. Use this link (via rentalcars.com) for the major brands (Hertz, Avis, Europcar, etc.) for the cheapest rates. Special Tip: Do not rent a large car, as the roads up to Mt Hehuanshan are sort of narrow. The smaller the car, the easier the drive.
- Weather Forecast Mt Hehuan: Check the weather forecast via this link. While visiting the peak in good weather is stunning, it’s definitely a disappointment during bad weather. That’s why we recommend to book the lodge (or hostel) not too far in advance. Read more in our weather section below. If you'd like to check the area right before you go, use the webcams (let Google translate the site for you): Webcams Mt Hehuan
Monthly Weather | Temperatures at Mt Hehuanshan
Mount Hehuan view around 10 a.m. with pleasant weather
How is the weather at Mt. Hehuan during a certain month? How cold is it up there in the winter? How often does it rain in the summer? We compiled the most reliable data from official sources for Mount Hehuanshan for you. There is no weather station at Mount Hehuanshan. Thus, almost every other statistic on the internet you find is from another station somewhere at a lower elevation. Those are not the ‘real temperatures’ for Hehuanshan at 3400 meters. That’s why we used official historical data and put it together for you. Here is what you need to know:
- Colder Up There: It’s 8-10 degrees Celsius colder at 3400 meters at Mt. Hehuanshan compared to lower elevations in areas nearby. Example: When you check weather forecasts or statistics at nearby Cingjing Farm (where you might stay), and it shows 16 degrees, it will be around 6 degrees at the top of Mount Hehuanshan. The difference is even higher from other towns/areas like
- Colder at Night: It’s even colder at night and on mornings of course: During the night the temperature roughly decreases by another 6 degrees. Keep that in mind as you have you’ll be out there during the night or very early in the morning when going for the stunning sunrise view.
Sony Syue Lodge displaying the temperature. This was after we returned between 6 and 7 am
The weather table below provides you with temperature details for every month at Mount Hehuanshan. The shown average low temperature is what you might experience in the early morning. Although sometimes it can be even colder by another 1-2 degrees. The average high is what you may experience during the day (from around noon until early evening).
Rainfall and Snow: In the summer months you should definitely be prepared for rain at Mount Hehuanshan. It’s possible to experience rainfall for 24 hours without a break during wet season. In the winter months rain is a lot less likely. Snow is possible especially between December and February. However, heavy snowfall is rare. In the winter of 2017/2018 the heaviest snowfall was in early February and caused a 10 cm blanket of snow: Hehuanshan blanketed in winter’s thickest snowfall Please keep in mind, that the below numbers are averages. A rainy day doesn’t mean it rains all day. It could also be a 15 minute shower:
Note: One day with rainfall doesn't mean a full day of rain
Forecast: It’s highly recommend to check the weather forecast a few days in advance (up to 7 days) before you book your room at Syue Lodge up there. The problem: It’s hard to find a reliable forecast for Mount Hehuanshan. Most cover only the counties and towns around it. Bookmark the following link as it’s the only official and reliable forecast: Taiwan Central Weather Bureau - Hehuan Mountain East Peak
What to Wear: For your Mt Hehuanshan winter visit you must bring warm clothes as it’s one of the highest places you’ll visit in Taiwan. A thick jacket, warm trousers, gloves as well as a hat and a scarf are highly recommended. From spring until fall you should bring sunscreen. The great thing about a summer visit is the refreshing coolness at an elevation of 3000-3400 meters.
General Taiwan Climate: Subtropical with wet and humid summers. Snow is common during winter mostly in January and February, and it gets very busy here. Most precipitation occurs from April to August. There is less rain from September to November and the driest months are December until March, but pretty cold. However, even in the driest season, you can expect some rain.
Consider Three Things If You Like to Watch a Sunrise Above the Clouds
1. Go weekdays
2. Don’t book your room far in advance.
3. Travel to Taiwan during the driest months to increase the chance.
Do you like to know more? Read the following tips to be successful in watching the sunrise for a jaw-dropping moment in your life.
Watching the sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan is very popular in Taiwan. If possible go on weekdays, weekends are super busy and fully booked. Don’t book the room far in advance. Check the weather forecast when traveling through Taiwan Taiwan Weather
Pick a date when the forecast for the mountain range is good or even excellent. The receptionist told me often people are disappointed due to the bad weather. The whole week before our stay in November it was always foggy and rainy.
- Visitor center opening hours: 8.30 until 4.30 pm but closed each month on the first and third Monday.
- The whole area is famous for its beautiful Rhododendrons in April and May.
Kenya is on equatorial east Africa and yet you will be surprised at the weather. September is mildly winter in Lake Naivasha and the sun feels good during daytime while you will need a light wind jacket for the evening.
Great experience includes Hippos in Lake Naivasha, the canyon at Hell's Gate National Park and Elsamere - the house where Elsa the lioness grew up with Gorge and Joy Adamson from Born-free.
Navaisha town is very small, no one accepts anything other than US Dollars or Kenyan Schillings - not even the banks. So always carry enough cash with you.
It is a quiet town so don't expect too much entertainment. There are a couple of nightclubs though.
Hell's Gate National Park lies near the bottom of Mount Longonot, an active volcano. Nowadays a geothermal power plant is harnessing the steam from the volcano , so there are no chances for eruption either.
The canyon is however dangerous because of sudden rains. If there is any rain, be sure take the emergency path out of the canyon as soon as you can. There are no big predators in the National Park but keep away from buffaloes.
Alice Lake Provincial Park Squamish is pretty busy during summer and popular for camping. The Four Lakes Trail can be done all year and is beautiful with sunshine and during fall. It’s permitted to swim in these lakes therefore in summer bring your swimming clothes and a towel in your backpack.
Arrive early during summer; the car parks fill up fast due to the many activity options and the beautiful location. There are several car parks in the park. The last one at Alice Lake is the quietest, less busy and located close to the trailhead with a nice and clean picnic area. The best choice is camping at Alice Lake, but reservations have to be done in advance for summer. May, June, and September are still crowded but mostly not fully booked.
The trail is popular for hiking, biking, and running among tourists and residents. Mid-week fewer people are on the dog-friendly trail. Around 40.000 people hike this trail each year.
Weather / Climate
Squamish has a high amount of rainfall throughout the year with its peak from October/November to February/March. Summer is the driest season of the year, but rain can occur so be prepared while hiking. From May to September the temps are pleasant for hiking, in summer around 20 °C / 68°F but can be hot as well with temps over 30 °C / 86 °F. Nights are cool even in the summer with a maximum of 10 to 13 °C / 50 to 55 °F. Due to the Howe Sound, it's freezing cold during the winter only.
- Stump Lake is covered with yellow pond-lilies which looks gorgeous.
- Between mid- and late August swarms of toadlets (frogs) move from their birth lake to their home in the forest. They are very small and it's difficult to see them. Be careful while hiking.
Good to Know for Biker:
The bike trail is closed to cyclist from May to mid-September.
The Chief hike is one of the most popular trails in British Columbia and also famous for climbing with just an hour drive from Vancouver. The hiking season starts in late March and lasts until the end of October. Best hiking conditions are during summer, but this is the peak season as well. August is the worst month due to the Canadian School Holidays. September is a lovely month. Continue reading to figure out all details for this breathtaking hike.
Stawamus Chief from Sea to Sky Gondola - Mt. Garibaldi in the back
This excellent trail is pretty busy during the weekends and in the summer; July and August. Spring and fall are less crowded. We hiked on a Friday morning to the peaks, and it was still busy in the afternoon. Plenty of hikers came to walk to the top of the first peak. If you like to climb this track with fewer people give the first peak a miss; it' the most frequented one. Fewer hikers continue to the second peak of the Chief and the third in the north is even less busy. The view from the first peak is already spectacular and gets even better from the second. If possible hike mid-week in spring or fall. The summer season is super busy, and campgrounds are fully booked. From the first of September onwards camping is more fun and there are plenty of campsites to choose from.
The Stawamus Chief Hike always up
Usually, you can hike from spring in March until late fall at the end of October. The Chief gets snow during winter. Anyhow, if it’s wet, the granite rocks are quite slippery. There are also slippery parts at dry weather where many hikers climbed up and down on the same route.
Parking the Car
The parking at Darrell Bay is limited in space. There are two parking lots for hikers and climbers, and it fills up soon in the morning. These two parking lots are for free. The parking for the sea to sky gondola nearby is limited for three hours. Tip: You can also start hiking from the nearby Shannon Falls if the two parking lots at Darrell Bay are full.
Squamish gets a high amount of precipitation throughout the year with its peak from October/November to February/March. Summer is the driest season of the year, but rain can occur so be prepared while hiking. From May to September the temps are pleasant, in summer around 20 °C / 68°F but can be hot as well with temps over 30 °C / 86 °F. Nights are cool even during summer with a maximum of 10 to 13 °C / 50 to 55 °F. Due to the location at Howe sound only freezing temps during the winter. There is often rainfall in Squamish while it is snowing on the Sea to Sky summit.
Where to Stay or Camp
Camping in Squamish; There are several opportunities for camping. These are our favorites:
- We enjoyed camping in the Alice Lake Provincial Park walk-in site for $ 23. There are 108 campsites, hot showers, swimming in the lake is cold but awesome, the Four Lakes Trail starts at the campground. Gets a bit windy though in the evening. Look where you pitch your tent. It’s quite popular during summer and reservations are advisable. Number 97-108 are walk-in sites. Campground Map of Alice Lake
- The Stawamus Chief campground with 47 sites, 10 $ p.p., pit toilet, and water, located close to HW 99.
- Hotels: We love the low budget Squamish Hotel during colder night temps. It's clean, quiet, washing and ice for free, and the most attentive staff.