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Crater Trail & Sliding Sands, Haleakala NP, Maui

Descend into the enormous and otherworldly crater of Maui's Haleakala National Park

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview:  Maui's highest point is the summit of Haleakala, where you'll find the immense caldera of possibly the largest dormant volcano on the ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead & Visitors Center

The trailhead for our short hike is located at the opposite end of the parking lot from the Haleakala Visitors Center.

We're heading for the Sliding Sands Trail, which contrary to it's name is comprised of well compacted cinder and soil, making for a relatively easy hike.

2. Into the Crater

Approaching the rim of the crater, it's sheer size immediately impresses. You can see why some hike in with their tents and choose to spend several days exploring the summit of Haleakala.

Despite Haleakala being a shield volcano, what you're seeing in front of you is not a single volcanic crater - known as a caldera, but instead the eroded... More

3. Life Among the Desolation

The desolation and the eerie red color of the landscape around you give this remote location an other-worldly appearance, which is only compounded by the strangeness of the plantlife.

Dotted around the landscape you'll find the silversword, a whitish-green plant unique to Hawaii. Please take great care not to disturb these shallow-rooted plants ... More

4. [JCT] Trail to Ka Lu'u o ka O'o

Almost exactly 2 miles into the Sliding Sands Trail you'll happen across a well marked sign signalling our diversion towards the closest caldera.

Take the left turn and head towards the crater known as .. well, we'll let you decide out how to pronounce it's name.

5. Cinder Cone and Crater

Take a stroll around the dramatically red-rimmed crater of Ka Lu'u o ka O'o, while keeping a respectable distance from the edge (don't worry though .. there's no real danger here).

6. Pu'u Ulaula (Red Hill)

Be sure to take a quick side-trip in the car to Red Hill, which marks the very tallest peak on the island of Maui.

Cast your eyes in an Easterly direction past the domed observatories, and on a clear day you'll be able to spot the Big Island of Hawaii.