Summit District

Haleakala National Park stretches from the rugged Ki-pahulu coastline up through rainforest and shrubland to the summit of the volcano.  Much of the rainforest and upper slopes are designated wilderness, ensuring that the primeval character of the area will remain.  Though many people refer to the summit’s cinder landscape as a “crater”, it is actually a valley carved into the volcano by thousands of years of erosion during a period of dormancy.  Renewed volcanic activity has partially filled in this valley with cinder cones and lava flows, which can be viewed from the Haleakala Visitor Center if weather permits.  To experience different perspectives of the Park, plan to hike in.


The 27 miles of trails in the Haleakala wilderness cover a land of sudden contrasts, not only of terrain, but also of topography.  Weather changes rapidly.  You may be exposed to intense sunlight, and then engulfed in thick clouds and heavy rain.  Haleakala rises to 10,023′, with a decent to the valley floor @ of 1400′-3000′.  Trails are strenuous at this elevation due to lack of oxygen, and altitude sickness is a concern.

Be on guard for the symptoms: nausea, headache, dizziness, and shortness of breath.  Pregnant women and people with heart or respiratory conditions should consult with their doctor before visiting the Park.  Temperatures commonly range between 40-65 F, but can be below freezing at any time with the windchill factor.  Hypothermia (life-threatening loss of body heat) is a danger due to the combination of exertion and exposure.

Hikers must be properly equipped.  No food, supplies, cw gas are available in the Park.  The Park trails are not wheelchair accessible.


There are 2 trails leading into the HaleakalA wilderness from the summit area, Sliding Sands and Halemau’u.  These trails join near Palika and are also connected by short spur trails.  The Kaupo Trail leads down the Kaupa Gap to the coast; ask for the ‘Hiking Kaupo Gap’ brochure.  There is also a brochure for hiking trails in the Ki-pahulu District of the Park.

SLIDING SANDS (Keonehe’ehe’e):

The trailhead is located at the bulletin board near the entrance to the Haleakala Visitor Center parking lot (9740′).  The trail descends 2500′ in 4 miles to the valley floor.  The return trip is difficult due to the grade, elevation, and reduced oxygen.  Allow twice as much time to hike out as it takes to hike in.

HALEMAU’U: This trail begins at the 8000′ parking lot, 3.5 miles above Park Headquarters.  The first mile is fairly level through native shrubland to the rim.  Two miles of steep switchbacks descend 1400′ to the valley floor, and on clear days offer alternate views of the cloud forest and the subalpine shrubland below.


  • Water – 3 quarts per person per day.  Water is sometimes available near wilderness cabins, BUT IS NON-POTABLE.  Treat before using.
  • Raingear, warm layered cl’otting and sturdy shoes or boots.  Brush all gear clean before hiking to remove alien seeds.
  • Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses
  • First aid kit, bee sting kit
  • Flashlight
  • Trail map
  • Trail mix/snacks, and bag for trash
  • Toilet Paper

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