Hiking Project Logo

Haleakala Crater - Sliding Sands Trail to Halemau’u Trailhead

  4.7 ( 3 ) Favorite


11.4 mile 18.3 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,725' 526 m
Descent: -3,510' -1,070 m
High: 9,771' 2,978 m
Low: 6,605' 2,013 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by wesley lummis

Epic volcano hike.

wesley lummis

Features Views · Wildflowers


Fast and fun downhill to start, with epic views the entire way down. Followed by more amazing views while crossing a vast lava field, and ending with a fantastic climb out of the crater.

Need to Know

Haleakala is a National Park, so you have to pay the usual NP entrance fee. Once inside, parking is free, and the Visitor Center has the usual information about the area, restrooms, etc.

There is absolutely no water on the trail. This place is dry like a desert in June, and I'm assuming as dry or drier later into the summer.

It's a long way on road from the Sliding Sands Trail to the Halemau'u Trail, so unless you want to make this a roundtrip journey, you can arrange for someone to pick you up at the Halemau'u Trail, or if you've caravaned with friends, you can leave one car at each trailhead.


Starting at Haleakala Visitor Center, follow signs to the Sliding Sands Trail. This is a fun downhill. With sand and gravel to cushion your footfalls, take the brakes off, and FLY down. Try to resist the urge to stop every quarter mile for neverending opportunities for the best panorama pic ever.

Continue for about 3.7 miles and take a left onto the Halemau'u Trail. Feel the calf burn as you slog through the black sandy remnant of ancient lava flows. After another 1.6 miles, turn left to go around Halali'i cinder cone. Two miles farther puts you at another junction where you can earn some extra credit on the Silversword Loop, after which you'll rejoin the Halemau'u Trail.

Get ready for a pumice foot massage as you near Holua Cabin which would be a great place to stop and rest and stay the night if only you had remembered to make reservations. You forgot, too? Guess that means you'll be finishing the next 3.7 miles up and out of the crater.

As you climb, give in to your urge to stop and turn and behold the valley below. If you're lucky, you may also be well above the clouds that typically ring the top of Haleakala. It's okay to stop and stare. It's okay to stop hiking and take a break. It's okay to cry just a little over how beautiful it all is.

Don't stop too long though, because, if you've remembered to, you've arranged for someone to meet you at the Halemau'u Trail, and you don't want to keep them waiting too long because, if they're as awesome as my wife, whom I arranged to have meet me at the trailhead, you'll find that they've set up lawn chairs and set out lunch and cold beers and are lonely and want some company.

Flora & Fauna

Rare silverswords are the highlight here. Apparently they only grow here and on Mauna Kea.

History & Background

This is a very old volcano from way back when Maui was the first island in the chain.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Jun 28, 2019
Scott Tryggestad
Great hike. We did this one in reverse so we could finish at the top in time for sunset. 11.5mi — 5h 30m
Apr 3, 2019
Jessica Jones
Feb 4, 2019
Divya Chaparala
Nov 19, 2018
Jesse Klug
Aug 11, 2018
Katie O'Malley
Jul 3, 2017
Myndi Parnham

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


  4.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in Hawaii


168 Views Last Month
1,604 Since Jan 30, 2019



Haleakala Crater
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Red cinder cone below green/lavender slopes of Haleakala.
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Looking south from Kamoaopele across the Haleakala Crater.
Apr 16, 2016 near Kēōkea, HI
Morning light from Haleakala Summit.
Sep 22, 2015 near Kēōkea, HI
Sliding Sands
Aug 14, 2018 near Kēōkea, HI
Haleakala Silversword.
Aug 31, 2017 near Kēōkea, HI

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking