Hike into Mt. Haleakala via Sliding Sands Trail



11.2 miles

Elevation Gain

3000 ft

Route Type


Added by Cambrey Knapp

Descend from a top-of-the-world view into the Mars-like volcanic crater of Mt. Haleakalā in Haleakalā National Park.

The trail starts from the summit of Mt. Haleakalā at an elevation of 10,023 ft -- actually, if measured from the base of Mt. Haleakala, which happens to be underwater, the Maui volcano is, in fact, higher than Mt. Everest! Find the sign pointing out Keonehe'ehe'e Sliding Sands To Trailhead at the summit parking lot. The trail is initially paved, but quickly changes into a coarse volcanic sand, from which the trail's name is derived. You will almost immediately begin your descent into the volcanic crater, and will be met with incredible views extending over the whole mountain and the rest of Maui, provided the crater isn't filled with clouds. However, the tropical location and elevation of this mountain both contribute to the cloud cover and consistently inconsistent weather patterns at the summit. For this reason, make sure to bring clothing suitable for rain, wind and sun as conditions could change at a moment's notice.

The Sliding Sands Trail is one of the many options in Haleakalā National Park at which to start your journey into the Haleakalā crater, but is undoubtedly the most scenic. While you're hiking down, keep an eye out for the 'āhinahina, or silversword, a unique Hawaiian plant that grows as a compact rosette for many years until it suddenly blooms a tall spire of purple flowers indicating the end of it's life cycle. It can take the plant anywhere from 5-50 years to flower, so if you see one in bloom, you're pretty lucky!

The mileage listed on this hike refers the total distance of the out-and-back trip, with the turnaround point being the Kapalaoa cabin at the bottom of the crater, where the trail technically ends. However, it links up with four other trails you may take if you wish to travel further. Just remember that this trail is 11.2 miles which is a significant day hike, so if you are planning on continuing on, you should bring backpacking gear, food and water. Also, remember that your return trip will be almost entirely uphill, so it might be smart to factor that into how far you decide to travel on this trail! 

All in all, this hike sports incredible views of one of the most beautiful mountains of Hawaii and the unique volcanic ecosystem will hopefully spark your intrigue into learning more about what the exotic island of Maui holds.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly



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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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