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Sliding Sands Trail



8.0 mile 12.9 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 60' 18 m
Descent: -3,155' -962 m
High: 9,785' 2,983 m
Low: 6,656' 2,029 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Megan W

This long distance voyage over mars-like lava and cinder feels distinctly otherworldly.

Megan W

Features Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly While you won't want to take the kiddos on the full length of this trail, a short out and back from the west end near the Visitor Center is a great option to give them a sense of hiking in the park.


The views from the Haleakala Crater are sweeping and majestic. However far you travel along the red dirt of the Sliding Sands Trail will be a treat as you navigate past huge cinder cones and cliffs. Start from the second Haleakala Visitor Center (the one that is near the summit). Signs mark the beginning of the Sliding Sands Trail (also called Keonehe'ehe'e). After an initial section close to the road, the path switchbacks downhill from the crater rim. The stark landscape with little vegetation continues as you head eastwards through multicolored hillsides. At about 2 miles, a rockier area marks the turnoff for the Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o Cinder Cone Trail to the north.

Stay straight to continue along the dry and shade-less Sliding Sands Trail. The crowds of people disappear the further down the trail you go. After a steeper downhill section of trail around mile 4, the grade decreases considerably and becomes almost level but rockier along the crater floor. The intersection for Connector A appears just after mile 4. Follow along due eastwards under a long ridgeline encountering ever more vegetation. Soon after the junctions with Connector B and Connector C, spy the welcome sight of the rustic Kapalaoa Cabin where Connector F meets the Sliding Sands Trail. Permits are required to stay overnight at the cabin but there are pit toilets and usually filterable water. Colorful cones and cliffs are the main views from here. Begin a tough descent through loose rock and lava fields towards the northeast to eventually join the Halemau'u Trail near its terminus.

Heed the warnings and be prepared for cold and unpredictable weather. Also, be aware that the high altitude will cause dehydration and fatigue much faster than at sea-level. As of this writing, no food is available for purchase inside the park, so bring your own.

Note: commercial horse tours also use this trail so watch out for droppings.

Flora & Fauna

Silverswords - The ‘ahinahina is a perennial plant which can develop from seedling to flower in as little as three years, but typically requires more than a decade. The plant remains a compact rosette until the final few months of its life. Then the plants send up a flowering stalk with one to five hundered purple flower heads, sets seed, and dies. The silver hairs on the leaves protect the plant from the harsh ultra-violet rays of the sun and aid in water conservation.

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Sep 7, 2019
Josh Littlefield
Quite windy, but clear and cool. About 56 deg at start. 4.2mi
Mar 15, 2019
Alyssa Tischler
Jan 4, 2019
Jacob Garrett
Nov 9, 2018
Jodi K
Going to the first overlook, a quarter-mile
Oct 25, 2018
Wes Hesterman
Aug 16, 2018
Jade Simunds
Jul 1, 2018
Ryan Wong
Apr 24, 2018
Axel Queffeulou
4miles go and 4miles return 8mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 12 votes


  4.5 from 12 votes
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in Hawaii


123 Views Last Month
7,770 Since Apr 28, 2016



Haleakala Crater
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Red cinder cone below green/lavender slopes of Haleakala.
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Morning light from Haleakala Summit.
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Haleakala Silversword.
Aug 31, 2017 near Kēōkea, HI
Sliding Sands
Aug 14, 2018 near Kēōkea, HI
Hiking in Haleakala 'crater'
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI


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