Haleakala National Park stretches from the rugged Kipahulu coastline up through rainforest and shrubland to the summit of the volcano. Much of the rainforest and upper slopes are designated wilderness, ensuring that the primeval character of the area will remain. Though many people refer to the summit’s cinder landscape as a “crater”, it is actually a valley carved into the volcano by thousands of years of erosion during a period of dormancy. Renewed volcanic activity has partially filled in this valley with cinder cones and lava flows, which can be viewed from the Haleakala Visitor Center if weather permits. To experience different perspectives of the Park, plan to hike in.
What To Bring
Water, 3 quarts per person per day. Water is sometimes available near wilderness cabins, but is no-potable. Treat before using. Raingear, warm layered clothing and sturdy shoes or boots. Brush all gear clean before hiking to remove alien seeds. You must also bring Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses, first aid kit, bee sting kit, flashlight, trail map, toilet paper, trail mix/snacks, and bag for trash.
Hikers must be properly equipped. No food, supplies, or gas are available in the Park. The Park trails are not wheelchair accessible. Permits are required to camp overnight in the wilderness. For extended hikes, ask for a “Camping and Cabins” brochure at Park Headquarters or the Haleakala Visitor Center. The cabins are for use by reservation holders only.
Haleakala Hiking Trails
There are 2 trails leading into the Haleakala wilderness from the summit area, Sliding Sands and Halemau’u. These trails join near Paliku and are also connected by short spur trails. The Kaupo Trail leads down the Kaupo Gap to the coast; ask for the “Hiking Kaupo Gap” brochure when in the Haleakala National Park. There is also a brochure for hiking trails in the Kipahulu District of the Park.
Sliding Sands (Keonehe’ehe’e)
The trailhead is located at the bulletin board near the entrance to the Haleakala Visitor Center parking lot at 9,740’. The trail descends 2,500’ in 4 miles to the valley floor. The return trip is difficult due to the grade, elevation, and reduced oxygen. Allow twice as much time to hike out as it takes to hike in.
This trail begins at the 8,000’ parking lt, 3.5 miles above Park Headquarters. The first mile is fairly level through native shrubland to the rim. Two miles of steep switchbacks descend 1,400’ to the valley floor, and on clear days offer alternate views of the cloud forest and the subalpine shrubland below.