Haleakala National Park: Sliding Sands Trail

This 9.2-mile dayhike drops into the muzzle of the world's largest dormant volcano.

Photo: SMJoness via Getty Images

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Descend south into the crater on Sliding Sands Trail.


As you begin to enter the desolate sandy interior of Haleakala crater, notice the near-lifeless ecosystem and striking contrast to lush tropical beaches only a few miles away. The terrain is so desolate that NASA trained Apollo astronauts here in preparation for their moon landing during the 1960s.


Peer ahead at Pu’u o Maui, the tallest cinder cone in the crater standing 500 feet tall.


Except for squeaky sand below your feet and light swirling winds, this crater is oddly quiet considering it once had a big bang factor. Mini-avalanches are tell signs ongoing erosion, but rare enough to keep the quietness burning a hole through your ears.


Continue straight at three-way with optional spur trail leading to Ka Lu’u o ka O’o.


Out of the crumbling volcanic floor grows Silversword, a rare plant with thick leaves covered in silver hairs and a single stalk covered in brown flowers.


Photographers: Plant your tripod here to capture a colorful sunset over the crater.


Turn around and retrace steps back to trailhead at 3-way with Sands Trail.

From 2022