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Hike the Sliding Sands Trail

Kula, Hawaii

based on 2 reviews



2 miles

Elevation Gain

1500 ft

Route Type



Added by Bryce Evans

Explore Mars-like landscapes and watch clouds form and dissipate before your eyes in Haleakalā National Park. If you come at the right time, enjoy a sunset like no other at 10,000 ft.

If you're headed up to Haleakala to catch the sunrise or sunset at the summit, leave a few hours before or after to do a quick hike into the crater on the Sliding Sands Trail.

This is not an easy hike (high elevation and therefore lower concentration of oxygen, altitude sickness concerns and steep climbs*), but the different perspectives of the Haleakala crater make it very worthwhile! Depending on the conditions, you may be able to watch clouds creep over and into the crater, or even suddenly appear and disappear right in front of you.

From the parking lot of the Haleakala National Park Visitor Centre, you will find a small dirt path that leads into the beginning of the Sliding Sands Trail. Keep in mind that you should double the time it takes for you to come back up (for us it took around 25 mins down and 50 mins back up) because of the altitude, elevation and parts of the trail that mimic walking on sand.

Make sure that you eat a wholesome meal and are well hydrated before making your way onto this hike – if you're not at the top of your game it just becomes that much harder.

After coming back up to the trail to the parking lot, you can drive up to the summit and find a spot to sit and watch the sunset. There's an observatory if you want to be sheltered from the winds, but the best views are often from outside. Dress very warmly as it becomes extremely cold as the sun goes down! You'll want to be able to focus on the awe-inspiring events taking place in front of you.

Watch for symptoms: dizziness, headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before visiting and hiking if you are pregnant or have heart or respiratory conditions. Stay safe!

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Easy Parking

Hike the Sliding Sands Trail Reviews

The nice thing about this hike is that you can turn around and go back at any point and you will still see some amazing views. The bad thing is that as soon as you turn around you realize that the most difficult part of your hike has just begun. Still glad not to have missed this one.

This is truly a trail like no other! You feel like you've been transported to Mars - the trail zig zags down into the craters of Haleakala and feels like a desert in the sky. Be sure to bring water, your camera, and warm clothes - although it is Hawaii, it can be very cold and windy on top of Haleakala, especially in the early morning or evening. We made it down a mile or two and came back, but it was well worth it! It is constantly uphill returning to the top, so leave time to take breaks, and again, be well hydrated! Also, unless you are on a tour, you will drive yourself up Haleakala - it is a lengthy drive and the higher you get, the less guardrails there are, so keep that in mind if heights and driving aren't your thing. This hike was perhaps our favorite part of our Maui vacation!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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