Sliding Sands Trail is located inside Haleakala National Park. This trail is definitely not an easy hike, but it does come highly recommended as a good, if not the best, hike for the Haleakala summit area. The extremely strenuous trail descends 2,800 feet in the first 4 miles to the valley floor. The Keoneheehee (Sliding Sands) Trail starts at the bulletin board by the entrance to the Haleakala Visitor Center parking lot. For a good half-day (and yet still moderately strenuous) hike, we recommend the first 2.5 miles of the trail to the Ka Lu'u o ka O'o cinder cone before turning around and taking the trail back out. The round trip is a 5-mile trek, and given the elevation, it'll feel like it's longer. The final climb back up Haleakala's Crater Rim will also be more than enough hike for one day. Total elevation gain/loss between the trail head and the cinder cone is approximately 1,400ft.
For overnight trips, Keoneheehee Trail leads to Kapalaoa cabin in 5.6 miles, or Paliku cabin and campsite in 10.4 miles. On long treks to the central valley or beyond it is recommended that you hike the Halemau'u Trail out of the valley due to the steepness and soft cinder base of the Keoneheehee Trail. Be sure you take water and necessities for hiking. Wear proper clothing (it can be cold at 10K+ feet) and make sure you are wearing sunscreen. We highly recommend a hiking pole of some sort as well, as it will make the climb back out of the crater much easier. Our final recommendation is that you prepare for this hike by getting a decent meal and good night's rest the day before. A bit of wisdom from those who have lived and learned, hiking this trail with too little energy from food and/or just a few hours of sleep can make it about 10 times harder than it needs to be.
Article Edited/Contributed by: John Derrick