Sliding Sands Trail

HARD 202 reviews
#2 of 14 trails in

Sliding Sands Trail is a 11 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.

DISTANCE
11.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,795 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

wild flowers

no dogs

This trail offers unique and spectacular views throughout, but this challenging hike is not for the faint of heart. The drive to the top is paved but winding, and should be taken slowly. The trail appears easy at first, starting in a down grade, but walking back to the top is more difficult, particularly in warmer temperatures with the elevation. You should bring appropriate shoes, water, food, and sunscreen. You can also go out 1-2 miles for a more challenging hike with the same views.

hiking
18 minutes ago

Amazing amazing trail! It’s hard to describe unless you’ve done it. As others have said, be sure to bring plenty of water as you’re in the sun and it gets hot fast. If you do an out and back, leave extra time for the climb back up. The views and silence in the crater are out of the world.

hiking
2 days ago

Going down was delightful. It’s as close to silence as few of us are fortunate to hear. For our hike it was clear and sunny, but I’ve seen it clouded out before.

The way up felt like work, but is accessible to anyone willing to take breathing breaks.

13 days ago

Loved this trail but did sliding sands to halema'u trail and hitchhiked back up. it's a long 11 miles but amazing and ever changing terrain. I did the sliding sands down and back up last time and it was extremely difficult due to the altitude between 9,000 and 10,000 feet. Finished sliding sands > halema'u in about 6 hours while taking a decent amount of breaks.

hiking
19 days ago

Nice one. There are several options while down in the crater, you can adjust based on weather and you fitness level. Terrain is VERY easy, so you might end up doing more miles than you think.

hiking
21 days ago

The Haleakalā Visitor Center is not open due to the government shut down. However, the bus/tour companies pay for a ranger to open the bathrooms so those are available, even if you make the trip yourself.

I agree with many of the other reviews: there is no shade so bring sunscreen and lots of water. It was sunny when we were there but the wind can make it cold. Check the weather before you go. We were comfortable wearing pants, long sleeved shirts, and brought a fleece jacket to wear as needed.

Amazing views throughout- I’ve never seen anything like it! We did 2.5 miles out and then came back and then 2 miles out and back on the Halemau'u Trail so that we could see both sides of the crater without having to hitchhike. Coming back on Sliding Sands was much more difficult due to the incline and the altitude. We saw several people running on the trail as well as families with children who looked as young as 13 and parents with younger children in carriers.

25 days ago

I was just unlucky... it was a very wet and cold throughout. We didn’t have any view at all :( We didn’t complete the trail, walked 4 miles and returned. We met only a few people and most walked back at 2.5 mile mark. In a few rare moments that it was raining, the scenery looked very interesting. I’ll do it again if I have chance.

1 month ago

Highly recommend parking at the Halemauu trailhead, hitchhiking up, and doing the sliding sands-halemauu loop. Epic hike. Unique terrain that you cannot experience in very many places on earth. 11.3 miles. Tiring day, but well worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike will fool you because you go down hill first into Haleakala Crater. It is huge and hard to comprehend. It takes twice as long and five times the effort to hike back out. Spectacular views at each new turn. We were lucky enough to be on the trail at times when no other hikers were near us. The absolute silence was shocking. Stop and listen when you have the opportunity. On our way out, a couple of novice hikers asked us to take their picture (we didn't have any other requests for this) and also asked if there is a good view of the crater a little farther in. I was confused by the question and said yes, several smaller craters are visible on the trail. We hiked a few hundred feet away from them and then it dawned on me. I called back, "Hey guys! You are in the crater! You are here!" After a brief pause of realization they looked around, pumped their fists and yelled "Mahalo! Mahaho!" (Thanks! Thanks!)

1 month ago

Did this hike in May2018-Hiked down to the floor of the crater, which took hours, but isn’t the full 11 miles like this hike says. Didn’t see a point in walking to a hut since we were doing out and back to our rental car. The trek was difficult on the way up, but the alternating views between clouds was well worth the sweat + effort !

1 month ago

My daughter and I are experienced but slow hikers. It took us about 7 hours to hike down the crater, out to the first cabin at Kapalaoa, and then back. The hike is easy out and hard back with the incline, but very worth it. It has amazing views and unique terrain.

hiking
2 months ago

My friend and I were pretty out of shape when we attempted sliding sands - we went in for about 2 miles and headed back because we knew that's all we could handle. Being in high altitude and very dry, it was hard to catch my breath and it hurt to open my eyes for more than a few seconds.
Driving up to the trailhead and back is another form of exhaustion (more mental than physical). I would recommend parking at Halemau'u and hitch up to sliding sands just to avoid having to drive all the way down, esp if you or passengers get carsick.
Sliding sands is truly unique for many reasons. One is the surreal landscape, but you also want to keep an eye out for Nene geese and the Chukar partridge. First one is very territorial whereas the latter will let you take its picture from close.

hiking
2 months ago

We started much later than everyone else normally would (around 12:15pm) and got back around 5:30pm right before sunset. We stopped a ton to take pictures and sat down for about 15 minutes at the first hut. If you’re on a mission and in decent shape you can probably do this trail in under 5 hours. The views are amazing the whole way and the landscape is surreal. If you don’t want to do the whole 11.6 mile round trip you can walk out a mile or two and still see some beautiful scenery.

The trail is sandy and some areas are rocky and slippery but most people shouldn’t have a problem. The uphill climb back to the top was definitely challenging because of the elevation and because we were in the afternoon sun. It was a bright sunny day so there was zero shade. If you’re hiking on a clear day bring lots of water, sunscreen and a hat.

2 months ago

Beautiful and worth going.

2 months ago

Make sure not to get to the park before 7am! You need a reservation prior to that I didn’t know and waited outside. Also if you want to do the 11 mile loop which I highly recommend park at the Halemau’u Trailhead / Hitchhiker Parking and get a ride up to the Sliding Sands Trailhead. Otherwise you’ll have to get a ride back up.
The hike itself was pretty easy, only the way up Halemau’u was a little intense. I was able to run a lot of it and did it in just under 3:30. If you’ve hiked Bright Angel this is much easier.

hiking
3 months ago

They are not lying when they say it's hard! My wife and I hiked down the Halemau'u trail and cut over to Sliding Sands and hiked up. I can tell you it was extremely difficult for us ascending the 3000 feet, but the views were absolutely breathtaking! Inside the crater feels like you're on another planet like Mars or something! Your mileage will definitely vary depending on your fitness, which may be why it was difficult for us since we aren't in fantastic shape. Take a lot of water and snacks, you will need breaks!

trail running
4 months ago

Quick review for any trail runners out there. Excellent trails for this.

Got up at at 3am in Lahaina today, left the house at 3:40, at the summit parking lot around 5:30. Watched the sunrise (bring lots of layers!), then ran the trail all the way down to the cabin on the crater floor, which is close to 6 miles. Most of the way, the trail is steep (you drop 600 feet on average per mile), but wide and soft on the feet. Between mile 3 and 4, the trail was too technical for me to run on so I speed walked it. Too many rocks.

But then the trail got easy again and there’s nothing better than the last 1.5 miles which are flat and on the floor through the grass, or bush, or whatever it is, with mountains all around you.

I then got to the cabin and sat down and took a break and got some food before heading back to the summit. No issue with weather or temperatures - once I started moving, I stayed warm. Mostly hiked the way back due to the grade and the fact that I’m not that good. But definitely an unforgettable experience and nothing like what I’m used to back in California.

Water wise - probably drank about two liters in total, all on the way up. Wasn’t thirsty running down.

Made it under an hour to the hut and couple of hours to hike back to the parking lot.

4 months ago

This hike has views that you can’t see anywhere else, but is not for the faint of heart.

The drive to the top can be stressful and must be taken slowly if you’re not used to curvy roads. The roads are paved, but prepare to take the ride to the trail a little slower. We really enjoyed the different landscapes of Maui with the lava rock and the clouds that sunk into the valley of the craters. I agree with another user that some hikers may bite off more than they can chew in the beginning because at first, the trail seems easy. With starting in a down grade, it is a different trail than I was used to. We left a little after 7, went out approximately 6 miles, then headed back and we were able to complete the hike in less than 5 hours. Walking back to the top was more difficult in warmer temperatures and with the elevation being a factor. That being said, make sure if you plan on going out that far, have appropriate shoes, water, and sunscreen. We saw a lot of folks walking past us on our return without those things. If you aren’t interested in a more difficult hike, but want the same views, I would suggest going out 1-2 miles.

If you are interested in seeing the sunrise at Haleakalā, driving yourself, plan to go within 3 days to use the same park entrance fee. I would suggest going on the hike first, to get used to the roads in daylight. They seem less daunting in the dark when it is the second time you’ve been on the road.

This trail was a great experience, and like I said, is like nothing you will see anywhere else!

hiking
4 months ago

Really enjoyed the second half of this trail, as the first half was in the clouds and was wet with poor visibility. The trail is wide and quite safe. As you descend and the clouds disperse, the view of the cinder cones is spectacular. You do feel like you're on another planet. I did the out and back, which did get a bit tough at the top where it was again wet and you're constantly ascending. I wish I had planned better and parked the car for the Halemau'u trailhead then hitched to this trailhead, so I could do more of a loop.

5 months ago

this trail is absolutely

5 months ago

Stunning views that we haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. We didn’t do the full loop. Way back up is hard with the altitude but worth the hike. Our 8 year olds and 11 year old loved it.

5 months ago

I added on the loop to see Kawilinau, which is a 65 foot hole into the abyss of the earth lol. I think that out me around 14 miles and I did it in six hours. I only had 1.5 liters of water and ran out, I would've liked at least 3 liters I think.

I don't believe sliding is truly a risk, I never slid once and the trail is mostly pretty wide, you aren't going to slide off into the crater.

I think the most dangerous aspect is the trail is so easy going down inexperienced hikers may feel like they can handle the trip. Going back up in the heat, I started at 8:45am, was definitely tiresome. I think anyone could do it if you have cat meat three liters of water, food, and plan on being at it all day.

As for the cold at top, I quickly warmed up going down and hiked back up without my shirt (sports bra) because I was so hot. I didn't put my shirt back on until about 3/4 of the way up. I had a clear, sunshiny day for my hike.

5 months ago

we did the 11 mile loop. so quiet (one of quietest places). very scenic, challenging, rugged. took about 5 hours. nice because so few other people on the trail given difficulty.

6 months ago

Amazing hike! Start early tho and if you can go on a cloudy/partly cloudy day! The trail has no trees and for most of it it is dark gravel! My friend and I did the hike starting from the top of the crater which lead us back to the lower parking lot!

6 months ago

strenuous; but beautiful, rewarding and very impressive; would definitely do it again; be prepared to bring layers of clothes; it can get pretty cold on the way back up; I got back around 430pm in overcast conditions and it was cold. - but hike is worth every effort.

hiking
6 months ago

DO NOT ATTEMPT IF YOU ARE NOT EXPERIENCED.

I did this hike June 27,2018, the weather was nice and so was the drive up to summit, however it was a long drive. This hike is for experienced hikers only, as going down into the crater is very easy and you will think that you can go further and further. Do not be fooled though, as the hard part is getting out of the crater. I would call myself decently experienced as I was in the Boy Scouts, but even I was exhausted after getting out of the crater.

One of the names for this hike is the Sliding Sands trail, this isn’t a lie, if you start to go off the trail you will slide down into the crater. Some points on the trail can be slippery due to the sand

So here are my tips for this hike:

Bring water, it may be cold and windy on the summit, but when you get far enough into the crater it will get hotter due to the sun beating down on you

Wear sunscreen, like I said it is sunny in the crater.

Bring trail snacks, you’ll probably be in the crater for a couple hours

Wear layers, but layers you can easily take off. It will be extremely windy at the summit, but in the crater it can be hot.

Overall this hike is extremely beautiful and I definitely recommend it, but only for experience hikers.

hiking
7 months ago

#1 thing to keep in mind when walking this trail is that it’s much more difficult to walk uphill than downhill, especially at 8,000-10,000 feet.
Hiked with my wife and 10 year old daughter about half way into the crater. They headed back up at that point, while I continued down almost to the bottom. There I took a side trail that leads to the top of the westernmost cinder cone. You can look down into the steep-sided interior of the cinder cone from its peak. Although it’s well worn, safe and easy to follow, I’m not sure how legit this little trail is in the eyes of the park service. It was amazing to watch the clouds ebb and flow from the crater gaps from that vantage point an hour before sunset. This is a unique, incredible place and every time I come I remember again how impressive it is.

7 months ago

Beautiful perspective views of the crater floor. Remember sun screen.

hiking
8 months ago

Very beautiful spot. We hiked to the end of the valley and then back up the hill. Be prepared for a substantial hike, part of which is about 5.5 miles all up hill continuously if you treat this trail as an out and back. Recommend getting there early morning to avoid clouds settling into valley/crater in the afternoon obstructing views.

8 months ago

This hike is hard only in the spot where you'll need to climb back out of the crater. This hike is beautiful start to finish. pretty cool too that you see plants that ONLY grow right there!

hiking
8 months ago

I've done it twice: once in 1975, when I was 24, and once a year ago. (You can figure out how old I was the second time...) First time was hot, sunny and dry, and I didn't bring enough water, so the hike back out was really hard. Second time was cold, cloudy, windy and rainy; we went maybe a couple-three miles down. I got chilled on the way back up, had to put the car heater on to get warm again. But both times beautiful--a cross between the Moon and Mars.

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