Sliding Sands Trail is a 11.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Kula, Hawaii that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Highway 378: Follow Haleakala Crater Road to the Haleakala Visitor Center. Park in the visitor center parking lot. The trail leaves from the eastern side of the parking area.
The first time I took this trail down, I just wanted to spend an hour due to time constraints, but ended up going longer; it is so cool as to what you'll see next that it draws you further down the trail until you've realized, I've got to go back up. Expect to take longer going back up and don't forget to take plenty of water. Think it would be awesome to hike all the way down to Ohe Gulch. The craters are amazing and the topography is like walking on the moon or Mars. The weather rolls through such it can be shrouded in clouds one minute and totally sunny fifteen minutes later. Great hike and I plan to keep coming back.
Pretty awesome hike and views. Hard to beat and wish I had more time. Watch for changing weather and be as prepared as possible. I went down the other day about 6.3miles in. Gorgeous, sunny and don't forget sun screen. About a mile back up got in a pretty windy rain storm (wind was expected). Pretty quick change to the day. But overall an incredible hike and amazing scenery. Can't imagine too many places on Earth that you can go and see these views.
This was a phenomenal hike. The terrain and landscape is unlike anything I've seen, definitely otherworldly. I highly recommend trekking down the crater at least somewhat so you can truly appreciate the expanse of it. The 11.2 miles on AllTrails is if you do an out and back from the Visitors Center to the Kapalaoa cabin. It's about 3.5 miles to base and then a nice 2 mile stroll on flat ground to the cabin in what feels like a desert. It's really quite peaceful. There's many options and trails for exploring this place, just pick the one that works for you and do it. You won't regret it.
A side note, the hike gets pretty hot as the day goes on. It didn't get too bad until the late morning, but on my trek back up the crater I was drinking a ton of water. I probably burned through 3.5L on my 5.5 hour hike (although I am a big water drinker). If you can force yourself, get up early watch the sunrise at the summit (or near the summit it's beautiful regardless) and then go hike. That way you can get the full Haleakala experience and beat the heat.
Haleakala Crater is an amazing place that has a quiet, ethereal magnificence to it. One must be prepared for rapidly changing weather, raw, rugged terrain, and deceptively challenging hiking if you decide to make the journey down.
At the summit, the weather was awful when we first arrived; 40 mph winds, cold rain, and poor visibility. We had driven a long way, so we waited for almost an hour for it to clear. Once the sun started peaking out, we decided to risk it. Up top, naturally, it is cold, and you will certainly need a (waterproof) jacket. The first mile or so is quite an easy decline before the trail becomes a little steeper and on looser cinder. Gradually the landscape starts to transform from the greyish surface of the moon to the reddish/brown ruggedness of Mars.
The deeper down you go, the warmer it becomes, but DO NOT forget that you are still at almost 8,000' elevation; the UV can be intense without you even knowing you are being burned. Throughout the way down, there are many great views as the trail cuts back and forth. You genuinely will feel like you are on another planet.
As you go down, though, remember that you will have to go ALL THE WAY back up, so allot yourself ample time to do so. The trail is almost like loose sand through most of its length, so keep in mind that it can be very slow going. Pack at least a liter or even 2 for each person in your group.
Despite the challenges that hiking in this unique landscape poses, you will not regret it. Even an outsider can come to understand why this mountain is sacred to native Hawaiians.
Unbelievable--it's like hiking on another planet.
Went from the visitor center (altitude 9745 ft) to around the 3 mile mark (~7800ft) on Labor Day. Weather was clear and despite the clouds to the south we had great views of Mauna Lei on the big island. We started around 10.30am which was a little late but it was warmer than we expected and I wore a single layer for the entire hike.
The trail is a gentle decent on mainly cinder so footing was good and the views were spectacular. We were going to descend down to the Kapalaoa Cabin which is 5.6 miles down, so 11.2 mile round trip. Normally i.e. At sea level this wouldn't be a problem for my wife and I but because of the dry heat we drank more than half of our 5 liters of water by the 3 mile marker so decided to ascend back to the top. The difficulty of this hike is in the altitude, weather and time of day. Take more fluids than you think you'll need and put a couple for extra bottles in the car for when you get back to the top.
Beautiful hike down the valley. The colors changed with the sun and clouds.