Haleakala National Park has many hiking trails to enjoy. Many come to the summit of Haleakala for sunrise and leave immediately afterwards. A perfect way to spend a full day at Haleakala is to hike into the beautiful crater to explore the different types of topography. For the best day hikes, there are a few options.
Hike down Sliding Sands trail from the summit for about 2 miles. There is an overlook into the crater that is stunning. The trail continues, but turn back around to the summit to keep this a 4 mile hike. Estimated time to complete this hike is 2 hours
Another great option is to drive to the Halemau’u trailhead and hike in for 1 mile. If the weather is clear the views are spectacular.
Hike the Sliding Sands trail to the Halemau’u trail for an amazing 11 mile hike. This hike explores a good majority of the crater. Estimated time to complete this hike is 6 hours.
Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Dayhike
How to Get There
This hike is a point to point hike. The start of the hike begins at Keonehe’ehe’e Trailhead at the summit. The hike ends at Halemau’u Trailhead. If you have two vehicles, park a car at Halemau’u Trailhead and then drive up to the summit to start the hike. Note that each car has their own entrance fees. The cheapest option is to park the car at the Halemau’u Trailhead and walk to the hiker’s pickup point alongside the road. It is fairly easy to hitch a ride up to the summit and begin the hike.
Entry to Haleakala National Park is $20 per vehicle for a 3-day pass. The annual pass for Hawaii National Parks is $25 and a good option if you plan to visit one of the other islands or if you plan to visit the park for more than 3 consecutive days. There also is the National Parks pass for $80 that is good annually for all U.S. National Parks.
Our Hike: 11 miles one-way, point to point hike, 6 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate with a difficult finish
The initial part of the hike is entirely downhill leading into the crater. You will see so many beautiful colors and awesome landscapes, including the Haleakala Silverswords. These endemic plants live up to 90 years. They flower between July and October.
After four miles at the first junction head straight and continue to Kapalaoa and Paliku. Then turn left towards Halemau’u. This trail will wind through several smaller volcanic cinder cones, some of which have beautiful colors.
This trail leads you to the Halemau’u trail. Turn left on the trail towards Holua. The trail for the next several miles is downhill. Once past Holua, the landscape changes and becomes more lush with plantlife.
The last two miles of the hike is the most difficult. Switchbacks lead you up the crater wall that are seemingly never ending. The switchbacks are very steep and challenging. After a mile and half of switchbacks, there is still a small ascent, but a much easier finish back to the Halemau’u Trailhead.
Bring sunscreen. You are at high elevation and more likely to burn.
Bring layers of clothes. This hike is exposed and can be very hot. However, there is also a possibility of hiking through the clouds, which can get cold.
Bring plenty of water. There is water at Holua, however it must be treated to drink.
Pack a light lunch and high energy snacks.
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