There are a few different ways to hiking this trail. One of the ways is to combine hiking the Sliding Sands Trail and the Halemauu Trail.
How to hike one way from Sliding Sands Trail to Halemau’u Trail
One of the ways to do the Haleakala crater hike is to get a ride to the starting point of the Sliding Sands Trail, and then start the hike into the Haleakala crater. (There is also a way to do it on your own without getting a ride.)
If you get a ride to the start of Sliding Sands Trail, then you can hike from Sliding Sands Trail to Halemauu Trail. More on this in a bit.
But first… the request to all of you who WON’T be hitchhiking on Maui, but WILL be going to the Haleakala summit. 😉
If you are driving through Haleakala National Park and you see a person on the side of the road who looks like they are prepared for a hike and looking for a ride… please pick them up and drive them to start of the Sliding Sands Trail! It’s much appreciated!
Hitchhiking is actually officially recommended by the US National Park Service as one way to do a popular crater hike at the national park. They call it the “hiker pick-up.”
Here’s the National Park Service official recommendation to the hikers:
We recommend parking your vehicle at Halemauu and hitchhiking up to the Sliding Sands Trail at the beginning of your hike.
Upon concluding your hike, you will have immediate access to your vehicle at Halemauu.
The park cannot offer hiker shuttles, so consider using the “hiker pick-up” near here.
Basically, one of the trail routes recommended by the National Park Service starts at one point and ends at another.
But it’s only possible for hikers to have this amazing hiking experience in Hawaii because there are kind drivers (like you ;)) who pick up people along the way!
So how will you know where to pick up these hikers?
As you are driving up to the summit in Haleakala National Park, you will come across a sign. And it’s shortly after the sign that there’s a pullover, and that would be where hikers would be waiting.
So if you happen to see someone as you’re driving through the park wondering if it’s a legit thing to do… now you know!
And you will make someone very happy. 🙂
ALOHA AND MAHALO!
More about getting to the hiker pick-up if you’ll be hiking from Sliding Sands to Halemauu!
Okay, so again, if you are looking for a hike on Maui in Haleakala National Park, then the Sliding Sands Trail is THE hike to do. There are a few ways to do this hike.
This is a trail that starts from near the top of the crater, and you’ll be hiking down into the crater.
If you don’t want to do a long hike, you can make it a short hike on the Sliding Sands Trail. Since the trail does start from the top (where there are grand views!) it can be worth it to even just hike a little bit into the crater and then turn around. So you wouldn’t be doing the full trail. (You can also do an alternate short trail that will give you grand views.)
But the full Sliding Sands Trail would make it a hiking day of around 8-11 miles depending on how far you go, and doing the whole trail can make it a more worthy hike!
And there are 2 ways you can do the Sliding Sands Trail when you do want to do the full trail:
- Do the Sliding Sands Trail as an out-and-back (to the crater floor, or to pele’s paint pot… and back. 7.8 miles / 11.4 miles round trip)
- Do this combining hiking trails: Sliding Sands Trail + Halemauu Trail (11 miles total)
If you want to do the Sliding Sands Trail on your own without “hitchhiking,” you would do the hike as an out-and-back. You would hike a bit, and then turn around and return to your car. You can do this on your own, no hitchhiking required. To do it this way, you will drive to the Haleakala Visitor Center near the summit. The Sliding Sands trailhead is near the visitor center.
Doing the second option means that you will end up at the Halemauu Trail parking lot, which isn’t close to the Sliding Sands Trail starting point at all, it’s like 6 miles away by road.
So if you want to do the combined trails, then that’s when hitchhiking is your option.
More below on the visual of finding the hiker pick-up spot!
Here's some info on Maui trip prep!
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- Haleakala summit on your own OR Haleakala sunrise tour
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IMPORTANT!!! If you wanted to see the famous Iao Valley in the West Maui Mountains, unfortunately that won't be possible from August 2022 and the rest of the year. Check the Hawaii State Parks website to confirm.
How to hitchhike in Haleakala to get to Sliding Sands Trail from Halemauu Trail
- Park at Halemauu Trail starting point
- Follow the signs back to the road and then to the hiker pick-up point
- Wait at the hiker pick-up point!
- Get a ride to the Haleakala Visitor Center! (aka near the starting point of the Sliding Sands Trail!)
Hopefully you won’t have to wait for long, but it’s really all about the drivers who are driving by!
Getting to the hiker pick-up point, in photos
Drive to Haleakala National Park!
Park at Halemauu Trail starting point
Follow the signs back to the road and then to the hiker pick-up point
You’ll cross the main road and then follow a short trail to get to the other side of the road.
Wait at the hiker pick-up point!
Hopefully not for long!
Get a ride to the Haleakala Visitor Center! (aka near the starting point of the Sliding Sands Trail!)
Start hiking the Sliding Sands Trail!!
And that’s a bit of what to expect when hitchhiking in Haleakala to get to the Sliding Sands Trail!
A few more notes:
1. The National Park Service also recommends keeping the weather in mind. The better the weather, the more traffic through the park (aka the better the chance there will be someone who will stop to pick you up sooner rather than later)
2. Doing the Sliding Sands Trail + Halemauu Trail combo hike won’t get you to the summit of Haleakala. The Haleakala summit is a half mile drive past the starting location of the Sliding Sands Trail. If your ride is going to the summit, you may consider going all the way up with them to see the summit, and then walk the half mile back down to start the hike! Or, you may first want to drive all the way up to the summit yourself, just so you can do that while you’re still energized. And then after you have made it up to the official summit, drive back down to the Halemauu Trail to go to the hiker pick-up spot.
3. There is a short trail near the visitor center that will get you views of the crater from a bit higher up.
4. There is drive-up tent camping within the summit area of the national park.
5. There is also backcountry camping (aka backpacking within Haleakala National Park aka carry your tent on your hike with you) that you can get to by doing the Sliding Sands Trail too.
6. There are also “wilderness cabins” that you can get to by hiking the Sliding Sands Trail.
If you are interested in Sliding Sands Trail, then you may also be interested in these top activities on Maui:
- Driving to the Haleakala summit
- Pipiwai Trail
- Oheo Pools
- Waihee Ridge Trail
- Iao Valley lookout
- How to spend one day in the West Maui Mountains
- Kapalua Coastal Trail
- Nakalele Blowhole
- Hoapili Trail
- Best of Maui hiking
And also have a look at visiting the other national park in Hawaii on the Big Island where you can see lava flows from past volcanic activity all around! THE day hike to do at that Hawaii national park is a hike into a former lava lake!
GOOD LUCK HITCHHIKING IN HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK!
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