Sliding Sands Trail In Hawaii

Here is everything you need to know about the Sliding Sands Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Hawaii
  • Length: 7.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Haleakalā National Park
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Sliding Sands Trail, also known as Keoneheʻeheʻe Trail, is a renowned hiking trail located within Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui, Hawaii. This trail holds significant historical importance as it traverses through the vast and awe-inspiring Haleakalā Crater, a dormant volcano that last erupted over 500 years ago. The trail’s history dates back to ancient times when it was used by native Hawaiians for various purposes.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Sliding Sands Trail served as a vital route for Hawaiians who would journey into the crater to collect valuable resources. These resources included volcanic rock, known as pāhoehoe, which was used for tools, weapons, and construction. Additionally, the crater’s fertile soil provided an ideal environment for cultivating crops such as sweet potatoes and taro, sustaining the native population.

With the arrival of Western explorers and missionaries in the 19th century, the Sliding Sands Trail gained attention from outsiders who were captivated by the unique landscape of Haleakalā Crater. These early visitors documented their experiences, describing the challenging terrain and the breathtaking views that the trail offered. The trail’s popularity grew, attracting more adventurers and researchers who sought to study the geological and ecological wonders of the area.

Today, the Sliding Sands Trail remains a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts from around the world. Its historical significance, coupled with the stunning vistas of the crater’s multicolored cinder cones, stark lava flows, and unique plant life, make it a must-visit location within Haleakalā National Park. The trail’s rich history and natural beauty continue to captivate visitors, providing a glimpse into the ancient Hawaiian culture and the geological wonders of this remarkable volcanic landscape.

While On The Trail

Access Points

The Sliding Sands Trail, also known as the Haleakala Crater Trail, is a popular hiking trail located in Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Here are the major access points or trailheads along the Sliding Sands Trail:

1. Haleakala Visitor Center: This is the main access point for the Sliding Sands Trail. It is located at the summit of Haleakala volcano and provides parking, restrooms, and information about the trail and the park.

2. Pa Kaoao Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Haleakala Visitor Center and serves as an alternative starting point for the Sliding Sands Trail. It offers a shorter route to the crater floor.

3. Keonehe’ehe’e (Sliding Sands) Trailhead: This is the official starting point of the Sliding Sands Trail. It is located near the Haleakala Visitor Center and provides parking and restroom facilities.

4. Halemau’u Trailhead: Although not directly on the Sliding Sands Trail, the Halemau’u Trailhead is another major access point in Haleakala National Park. It is located on the western side of the park and offers a different hiking experience with stunning views of the crater.

These are the main access points or trailheads along the Sliding Sands Trail. It is important to note that the trail is a challenging and strenuous hike, so proper preparation and caution are necessary.

Transportation Available

1. Maui Bus – Public bus service covering various routes on the island of Maui.
2. Uber – Ride-hailing service providing convenient transportation options.
3. Lyft – Another ride-hailing service offering on-demand rides.
4. Taxi – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs.
5. Rental Car – Various car rental companies provide vehicles for self-driven exploration.
6. Bike Rentals – Local shops offering bicycle rentals for a more active mode of transportation.
7. Shuttle Service – Shuttle companies providing transportation to and from specific locations.
8. Tour Operators – Local tour operators offering guided transportation services for sightseeing and exploration.


The amenities available at the Sliding Sands Trail in Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii, include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at the trailhead and at various points along the trail.

2. Parking: There is a parking lot available at the trailhead for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: There are designated camping sites available along the trail for visitors who wish to camp overnight. Permits may be required, so it is advisable to check with the park authorities beforehand.

4. Picnic Areas: There are picnic areas located near the trailhead where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack before or after their hike.

5. Water Stations: There are water stations available at the trailhead and at certain points along the trail to refill water bottles.

6. Information Boards: There are information boards at the trailhead and along the trail that provide details about the trail, safety guidelines, and points of interest.

7. Trail Markers: The trail is well-marked with signs and markers to guide hikers along the designated path.

8. Benches: There are benches placed at various viewpoints along the trail, providing hikers with opportunities to rest and enjoy the scenery.

9. Emergency Services: In case of emergencies, there are emergency services available within the park. It is important to be prepared and carry necessary supplies for any unforeseen circumstances.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change or availability, so it is recommended to check with the park authorities or visitor center for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit.

Nearby Services

1. Kīlauea Lodge & Restaurant – Charming lodge offering comfortable accommodations and a restaurant serving Hawaiian cuisine.
2. Volcano House – Historic hotel located within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, offering stunning views of the surrounding volcanic landscape.
3. Volcano Village – Quaint village near the park entrance, providing various lodging options, restaurants, and art galleries.
4. Thai Thai Bistro & Bar – Thai restaurant in Volcano Village, serving authentic dishes in a cozy atmosphere.
5. Volcano General Store – Convenient store in Volcano Village, offering groceries, snacks, and basic supplies.
6. Hilo Medical Center – Full-service hospital located in Hilo, approximately 45 minutes away from the Sliding Sands Trail.
7. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center – Information center within the park, providing guidance, maps, and emergency services if needed.

Sliding Sands Trail Difficulty Notes

The Sliding Sands Trail, located in Haleakala National Park in Maui, presents a challenging and exhilarating hiking experience. With its steep inclines, loose volcanic gravel, and unpredictable weather conditions, this trail demands a moderate to advanced level of fitness and hiking skills. The trail spans approximately 11 miles round trip, taking hikers through a surreal lunar-like landscape of volcanic cinder cones and vast open spaces. The high altitude and thin air can also add to the difficulty level, making it essential for hikers to be well-prepared with proper gear, plenty of water, and a cautious approach. Despite its difficulty, the Sliding Sands Trail offers breathtaking panoramic views and a unique opportunity to explore the raw beauty of Haleakala’s volcanic terrain.

Features And Attractions

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Usage Guidelines

– No pets allowed on the Sliding Sands Trail.
– Hiking is allowed year-round, but be prepared for changing weather conditions.
– Stay on designated trails and do not venture off the marked path.
– Carry enough water and food for your hike, as there are no water sources or food facilities along the trail.
– Pack out all trash and leave no trace of your visit.
– Do not disturb or remove any natural or cultural features.
– Camping is not permitted along the Sliding Sands Trail.
– Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– Be cautious of loose gravel and steep slopes, as they can be hazardous.
– Check the weather forecast before starting your hike and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
– Respect the wildlife and do not feed or approach them.
– Follow any additional guidelines or rules posted by the Haleakalā National Park authorities.

Seasonal Information

The Sliding Sands Trail, located in Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui, offers a unique and breathtaking hiking experience. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. During these times, the weather is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low 80s Fahrenheit (18-27 degrees Celsius). The trail can be quite challenging, with steep inclines and loose volcanic soil, so it is advisable to avoid visiting during the hot summer months when temperatures can soar and make the hike more strenuous.

It is important to note that the Sliding Sands Trail is subject to seasonal closures due to weather conditions and park maintenance. The trail is occasionally closed during the winter months, typically from December to February, due to snow and ice accumulation at higher elevations. These closures are implemented for visitor safety and to protect the fragile ecosystem of the park. It is recommended to check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for up-to-date information on trail closures before planning your visit.

Despite the occasional closures, the Sliding Sands Trail offers stunning views of the Haleakalā Crater and the surrounding volcanic landscape. Hikers can witness the dramatic color changes of the crater as the sun rises or sets, creating a truly magical experience. The trail also provides an opportunity to observe unique plant and animal species that have adapted to the harsh volcanic environment. It is advisable to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and sturdy footwear when embarking on this hike, as there are limited facilities along the trail. Overall, the Sliding Sands Trail is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Maui’s volcanic wilderness.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Sliding Sands Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and rugged terrain.
2. ADA Accommodations: The trail does not have specific ADA accommodations, but visitors with disabilities can still enjoy the scenic views from the trailhead area.

Safety Information

When visiting the Sliding Sands Trail in Haleakalā National Park, it is important to be aware of the following safety information:

1. Weather Conditions: The weather at the summit of Haleakalā can be unpredictable and change rapidly. Check the weather forecast before your visit and be prepared for sudden temperature drops, strong winds, fog, and rain. Dress in layers and bring appropriate gear like a rain jacket, hat, and gloves.

2. Altitude Sickness: The Sliding Sands Trail starts at an elevation of around 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and descends further into the crater. The high altitude can cause altitude sickness, especially if you are not acclimated. Take it slow, stay hydrated, and listen to your body. If you experience symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath, descend to lower elevations.

3. Sun Protection: The sun’s UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing to shield yourself from the sun. Reapply sunscreen regularly, even on cloudy days.

4. Hiking Equipment: Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots with good traction as the trail can be rocky and uneven. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, as there are no water sources along the trail. Carry a map, compass, or GPS device to navigate the trail, as it can be easy to get lost in the vast crater.

5. Wildlife and Plants: Respect the natural environment and wildlife. Do not approach or feed any animals you encounter. Stay on designated trails to avoid damaging fragile plant life. Be cautious of loose rocks and unstable terrain.

6. Trail Conditions: The Sliding Sands Trail can be challenging, especially on the return uphill. The trail is steep and can be slippery, especially if it has rained. Take your time, watch your step, and use trekking poles if needed. Be aware of your physical limitations and turn back if you feel uncomfortable.

7. Emergency Services: Cell phone reception is limited or non-existent in some areas of the park. Inform someone about your hiking plans and estimated return time. In case of an emergency, call 911 or seek help from park rangers.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when exploring any natural area. Enjoy the beauty of the Sliding Sands Trail while being mindful of your surroundings and following these safety guidelines.

Conservation Notes

The Sliding Sands Trail, located within Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii, holds a conservation status that reflects its significance and vulnerability. As part of a protected area, the trail falls under the conservation management of the National Park Service. The conservation status of the Sliding Sands Trail is primarily focused on preserving the unique and fragile ecosystem it traverses, which includes rare plant species and sensitive habitats.

The trail is situated within the Haleakalā Crater, a volcanic depression that showcases a diverse range of geological formations and endemic flora. Due to its delicate nature, the conservation status of the Sliding Sands Trail emphasizes the need for visitors to adhere to strict guidelines to minimize their impact on the environment. These guidelines include staying on designated paths, refraining from removing or disturbing any natural materials, and avoiding the introduction of non-native species.

Efforts are also made to protect the native plant species along the trail, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. The conservation status of the Sliding Sands Trail involves ongoing monitoring and management of invasive species that could threaten the survival of these unique plants. Additionally, the trail is subject to periodic closures or restrictions to allow for habitat restoration and recovery, ensuring the long-term preservation of the ecosystem.

Overall, the conservation status of the Sliding Sands Trail highlights the importance of maintaining the delicate balance between visitor access and environmental protection. By implementing measures to minimize human impact and preserve the unique biodiversity of the area, the trail can continue to be enjoyed by visitors while safeguarding its ecological integrity for future generations.

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