There are several great trails into the Haleakala erosion crater. If you click on the picture to the right you can see a line of horses and riders ascending the Sliding Sands Trail. It’s only when you see something like this that you get an idea of the scale of the place.
While this is all explained in the Maui trail book in our condo, the trail head is a short walk around the cinder cone on the south side of the parking lot. From the start of the trail it’s 2,500 vertical feet to the crater floor – so the hike down is pretty easy. The hike up is another matter. Depending on your physical condition and how you react to the thinner mountain air, it will take 1.5 to 2.0 times as long to hike out as it takes to hike in. Keep this in mind if you’re hiking later in the day. It gets dark (and cold) fast when the sun goes down. Even in summer it can be chilly in the shadow of the west rim of the crater in the late afternoon.
As you can see from the photos, you are entirely exposed on this trail. Use sunscreen and carry water. We generally hike with a daypack with water, snacks, extra clothing and anything else we might need.
Consider adding a hike to your Haleakala experience. If you come early for the sunrise, you can hike in and out before lunch and then enjoy a meal in the Up Country. Alternatively, if you’re not into starting your day at 2 or 3 AM so you can see the sunrise, you can hike in the afternoon and time your return to see the sunset from the top of the mountain. It’s a whole lot like the sunrise, but without the busloads of tourists and people standing five deep at the best vantage points.
Speaking of sunrise and sunset, did you know that Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian? To find out more, click here.
For another great (but harder) hike into the crater, click here to see our blog on the Halemauu Trail.