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Sliding Sands Out-and-Back

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (18) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Challenge yourself on a spectacularly unique and scenic romp through a lunar landscape.


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Map Key

4.2

Miles

6.7

KM

Out and Back

9,769' 2,978 m

High

8,535' 2,602 m

Low

1,239' 378 m

Up

1,239' 378 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly With the option to make this as short or as long of an out and back excursion as the kids can handle, this trail is a great option for kids to see the amazing sights of the park.

Overview

A hike on the Sliding Sands Trail is a great way to experience all the highlights of a trip to Haleakala. You'll navigate through the martian landscape, see the rare silversword plants, and explore the vibrantly colored hillsides. Word to the wise: although this is a very worthwhile outing, save some energy for the uphill trek back to the visitor center.

Need to Know

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.

Description

The views from the Sliding Sands Trail are sweeping and majestic, and you won't want to miss the opportunity to hike on this trail which is one of the most popular in the park. Start from the second Haleakala Visitor Center (the one that is near the summit). Follow signs marking the beginning of the Sliding Sands Trail (also called Keonehe'ehe'e). After an initial section close to the road, the path switchbacks downhill through loose sand from the crater rim. The stark landscape with little vegetation continues as you head eastward through multi-colored hillsides. Keep an eye open for the Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o Cinder Cone in the distance to the north.

Contour along the hillside, with views of the hillsides stretching out before you. Also, keep an eye open for the rare and beautiful Silverswords along the way. Silverswords live between 3 and 90 years or more. They flower once, sending up a spectacular flowering stalk, and then die soon afterward, scattering drying seeds to the wind. At about 2 miles, you'll pass between tall shattered-looking rock formations, the only shade you'll experience on this excursion.

For this out-and-back option, turn around at the rock formation and head back the way you came. Hikers have the option to make this as long (or as short) of an out-and-back hike as they would like as the Sliding Sands Trail continues on for another 6 miles from this turnaround point. Be sure to take frequent breaks on the climb back up, the loose soil and elevation will make the ascent more taxing.

Flora & Fauna

Silverswords dot the trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 18 votes

#492

Overall
  4.6 from 18 votes
5 Star
61%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#5

in Hawaii

#492

Overall
11 Views Last Month
6,587 Since Apr 28, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Eerie morning light surrounds the visitor center just after dawn.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, HI
The early morning sun takes a while to get things heated up in the winter. But it will get there.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, HI
The first portion of the Sliding Sands Trail is wide and fairly smooth.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, HI
It's a pretty raw and landscape down there.
Dec 31, 2019 near Kēōkea, HI
Haleakala Crater
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Just after sunrise on Haleakala...
Aug 31, 2017 near Kēōkea, HI

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Check-Ins

Jan 14, 2020
David Scott
Dec 22, 2019
Jamie Marshall
Apr 28, 2019
Olivia Jones
1h 50m
Dec 29, 2018
G D
Nov 21, 2018
Brian Reed
5mi
Jun 20, 2018
Lauren Rosin
Jun 7, 2018
Alice Bennett