Haleakala National Park, HI: Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o Cinder Cone

This 5.5-miler descends into the Haleakala Crater, circles the Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o cinder cone, and showcases views of volcanic landscapes.
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This 5.5-miler descends into the Haleakala Crater, circles the Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o cinder cone, and showcases views of volcanic landscapes.

Drop into the Haleakala Crater on this 5.5-mile trip that circles the rim of a colorful cinder cone and features stunning views across the crater floor and Ko'olau Gap. From the visitor center parking area, pick up the Sliding Sands Trail, marked by a large sign. Contour around a large outcrop, then begin the long, steady descent into the crater on loose, sandy trail. As you descend, study the colors of the landscape, which change with the angle of the sun.
After a mile, stop at Na'ena'e Overlook for long views across the crater floor to the Kaupo Gap, then continue the descent, passing small patches of 'ahinahina (silversword). At mile 2, cool off behind two large rock outcrops, one of the crater’s few shady spots, and turn right onto the short, 0.6-mile spur to circumnavigate Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o, a cinder cone with bands of red, orange, yellow, green and brown. (Caution: The trail is narrow and loose; do not descend into the crater.)
At the end of the spur trail, turn right and continue north to an overlook of the Ko'olau Gap, Kalahaku Pali, and the numerous other cinder cones within Haleakala. Pull up a rock, have a snack, and soak up the striking landscape. When you’re ready, follow the same route back to the trailhead.
Note: Pack lots of water and sunscreen.
INFO: Haleakala National Park, (808) 572-4400; nps.gov/hale/.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.8

Waypoints

KAL001

Location: 20.714416, -156.250431

From the Visitor Center parking lot, walk south on the path that parallels the road to reach Sliding Sands trailhead.

KAL002

Location: 20.712025, -156.24993

At the Sliding Sands trailhead, continue southeast. Look for the Big Island's Mauna Kea peak 80 miles to the southeast.

KAL003

Location: 20.710389, -156.242087

Na'ena'e Overlook: Stop and take in the views over Haleakala Crater and Kaupo Gap.

KAL004

Location: 20.713252, -156.238095

At this switchback, you'll find more views across Ka Lu'u o Ka 'O'o Crater and the Ko'olau Gap.

KAL005

Location: 20.711056, -156.233279

At the large rock outcrop, bear left (north) on the spur trail to Ka Lu'u o Ka 'O'o Crater.

KAL006

Location: 20.7165, -156.233547

Bear right at the 3-way junction for a quick loop around the rim of Ka Lu'u o Ka 'O'o Crater.

KAL007

Location: 20.71935, -156.233053

Stop for lunch at this viewpoint overlooking the Haleakala Crater floor and XX Gap. Turn around and retrace steps back to the parking area.

KAL008

Location: 20.709977, -156.253138

Catch the sunrise (or more views after your hike) on this 10,023-foot summit.

Views into the Haleakala Crater

Location: 20.711081, -156.249388

Take in huge views across Haleakala Crater from the rim viewpoint before descending the Sliding Sands.

Trailhead

Location: 20.714423, -156.250327

Start the trail to Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o at the sign near the parking area entrance.

Ko'olau Gap

Location: 20.711578, -156.249785

Hiker descending the Sliding Sands Trail, with Kalahaku Pali and Ko'olau Gap beyond.

Sliding Sands

Location: 20.709556, -156.247194

Hikers descending the long Sliding Sands Trail into Haleakala Crater.

Moonscape

Location: 20.710369, -156.241926

Big view across Haleakala Crater and the Sliding Sands Trail from the Na'ena'e Overlook.

Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o

Location: 20.713229, -156.237946

The Kalahaku Pali and Ko'olau Gap loom beyond the Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o cinder cone.

'Ahinahina

Location: 20.712326, -156.236894

This species of 'ahinahina (silversword) is exclusively native to Haleakala.

Spur Trail

Location: 20.711056, -156.23316

Two miles from the rim trailhead, a 0.6-mile spur leads to the colorful Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o cinder cone.

Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o Trail

Location: 20.713369, -156.23404

Hiker traversing a cinder-strewn slope en route to Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o.

Crater Pano

Location: 20.715537, -156.233783

From the cinder cone trail, view the entire Haleakala Crater; Kama' oli'i in the foreground.

Rim View

Location: 20.7163, -156.233075

Standing at the rim of Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o; the Ko'olau Gap and Hanakauhi Peak beyond.

Rim Trail

Location: 20.717062, -156.231937

Circling the rim of Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o.

Crater Rainbow

Location: 20.717664, -156.232517

Trace minerals color the volcanic cinders in varieties of reds, oranges, yellows, browns and greens.

Cinder Cones

Location: 20.71937, -156.232774

From the end of the trail, soak up views of more of Haleakala's cinder cones, Kama' oli'i and Pu'u o Maui.

Rim Pano

Location: 20.717062, -156.233568

View across Ka Lu'u o ka 'O'o of Haleakala Crater.