The Best Day Hikes in Haleakala Crater in Maui

The Best Day Hikes in Haleakala Crater, Maui

Many tourists only visit the summit of Haleakala on the island of Maui for sunrise and then leave immediately afterward. This is a big mistake as Haleakala National Park has many hiking trails to enjoy. A perfect way to spend a full day at Haleakala is to hike into the beautiful crater to explore the different types of topography.

Our list of the best day hikes in Haleakala is outlined below. Enjoy!

Haleakala National Park Hiking: Summit Sunrise
Sunrise at the summit of Haleakala

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

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The Best Day Hikes in Haleakala Crater, Maui

Short Hikes in Haleakala Crater

  • Hike down the Sliding Sands trail from the summit for about two miles. There is an overlook into the crater that is stunning. The trail continues but turns back around to the summit to keep this a 4-mile hike. The estimated time to complete this hike is two hours.
  • Another great option is to drive to the Halemau’u trailhead and hike in for one mile.  If the weather is clear, the views are spectacular.

Long Hikes in Haleakala Crater

  • Hike the Sliding Sands Trail to the Halemau’u trail for an amazing 11-mile hike. This hike explores the majority of the crater. The estimated time to complete this hike is six hours.
Haleakala Hiking Trails: Sliding Sands
Sliding Sands trail

Haleakala National Park Entry Cost

Sliding Sands Trail: Crater Landscape
The stunning landscape inside the crater

There are a few options for entrance fees into Haleakala National Park depending on your itinerary in Hawaii as well as how often you visit other US national parks.

Payment must be by credit card at the park gate at the entrance to Haleakala. There are payment gates at Haleakala as well as on the Hana Highway at the Ohe’o Gulch and Pipiwai Trail.

Entrance fees are valid for three days starting with the date of purchase.

  • Motorcycles: $25
  • Entrance for private vehicles: $30
  • Hawaii Tri-Park Annual Pass: $55 and covers all passengers in one vehicle for entry to all Hawaii national parks for 12 months
  • Interagency Annual Pass: $80  and covers all passengers in one vehicle for entry to all United States national parks for 12 months

Please note that if you are planning to attend sunrise at Haleakala, it now requires a reservation and a booking fee per vehicle. Reservations are available online only up to 60 days earlier. For more information on booking a reservation, visit the NPS website.

Hiking Tips for the Haleakala Crater

  • Bring sunscreen. You are at a high elevation and more likely to burn.
  • Bring layers of clothes. This exposed hike can get very hot. However, there is also a possibility of hiking through the clouds, which can get cold. Be ready for both weather conditions on the same day.
  • Bring plenty of water. There is water at Holua; however, it is not treated to drink. Bring tablets or a water filtration device.
  • Pack a light lunch and high-energy snacks.

Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Hike

How to Get to the Sliding Sands Trail

Haleakala Hike: Crater
Views into the Haleakala crater

This hike is a point-to-point hike. 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 its own entrance fee. The cheapest option is to park the car at the Halemau’u Trailhead and walk to the hiker’s pickup point along the road. It is fairly easy to hitch a ride up to the summit. This way your car will be at the finish of the hike.

Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Hike Details

Distance: 11 miles one-way, point to point
Time: 6 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate with a difficult finish

Haleakala National Park Hiking: Unique Plants
Unique plants

The first part of this hike is downhill leading into the crater. You will see many beautiful colors and awesome landscapes, including the Haleakala Silverswords. These endemic plants live up to 90 years and 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. There are signs posted for these routes. This trail will wind through several smaller volcanic cinder cones, some of which have beautiful colors.

Haleakala Hiking Trails: Landscape
Stunning colors and landscape

This trail leads you to the Halemau’u trail. Turn left on the trail towards Holua. The trail is downhill for the next several miles. Once past Holua, the landscape changes and becomes lusher with plant life.

The last two miles of the hike are the most difficult. Switchbacks lead you up the crater wall that is seemingly neverending. The switchbacks are very steep and challenging. After a mile and half of the switchbacks, there is still a small ascent, but a much easier finish back to the Halemau’u Trailhead.

That’s it! We hope you have a wonderful hike up Haleakala Crater in Maui!

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  • Yana and Timon

    Yana & Timon met at college in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating, they started their professional careers. They moved to San Francisco in 2010, a city they loved living in for nearly six years.

    After working and saving up money for several years, they quit their jobs and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. They started living a nomadic lifestyle in December 2015 and have not looked back since.

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