Watching the sun rise above the clouds from the Haleakala Crater summit on your Maui bucket list? If so, you’re not alone, you’ll be part of a jam-packed crowd!
Try a short hike to the Leleiwi Overlook for a less congested sunrise viewing experience! To get a real feel for Haleakala’s rugged beauty you have to hike its many nature trails.
Haleakala National Park is a 2-for-1 national park, with two distinctly different districts combined into one national park.
The Summit District along the crater’s summit has a surreal, other worldly landscape reminiscent of the moon or Mars, an alpine desert, high-elevation, landscape pockmarked with craters.
The Kipahulu District along the coast is one of Hawaii’s best rainforest jungle landscapes, primitive and pristine.
Vacationing in Maui with family and small kids or senior parents? We have listed many easy Haleakala hikes below that are kid-friendly and family-friendly, perfect Maui hikes for beginners.
And if you’re a bird watcher, you’ll love hiking the Hosmer Grove Trail, one of the best birdwatching locations on Maui.
We’ve curated the best Haleakala hikes for you, from easy to hard. Join us on a virtual tour to identify the ones most suited for you and your group!
Visiting Maui and enjoy hiking? Check out our in-depth guide to the best hikes in Maui! From rainforest, waterfall hikes like Twin Falls Trail and Pipiwai Trail to view hikes like the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, Maui has it all!
Some links on this page may be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. For more details, refer to our disclosure.
Best Easy Haleakala Hikes
1. Leleiwi Overlook Trail (Summit District)
Leleiwi Overlook Trail is a short, 0.3 mile roundtrip length, often windy, hike on a rocky, mildly climbing, trail to an overlook in the Summit District of Haleakala.
At an elevation of 8,800 feet, you get gorgeous views of the crater and the moonlike landscape, distinctly different from what you see from the summit. On clear days, you get glimpses of the Maui coastline in the distance.
2. Hosmer Grove Loop Trail (Summit District)
Hosmer Grove Trail, located right near the entrance, is an easy, 0.6 miles roundtrip, relatively flat, hike through subalpine shrubs that include non-native trees planted for erosion control in the 1800s and native shrubs.
You’ll see huge eucalyptus, cedar, pine and spruce trees, but the highlight of the hike for us were the many pretty birds that are found along the trail.
We were delighted to spot some apapane (crimson honeycreeper), i’iwi (scarlet honeycreeper) and amakihi (greenish-yellow bird with a black bill).
3. Kūloa Point Loop Trail (Kīpahulu District)
The Kuloa Point Loop Trail, next to the Kipahulu Visitor Center, is a short (0.5 miles loop), relatively easy, hike to Ohe’o Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools, a tiered waterfall through terraced pools.
Currently, the pools of Ohe’o are not accessible for swimming due to the danger of flash floods, though this may change in the future, depending on the safety measures put in place.
4. Sliding Sands Trail to First Overlook (Summit District)
The Sliding Sands Trail, probably the most iconic trail on the Summit District, is a long, strenuous hike through the alpine desert landscape of the Haleakala crater, meant primarily for the experienced hiker.
However, the hike to the first scenic overlook on the Sliding Sands Trail is a relatively easy, short (0.5 mile roundtrip distance), that most hikers of all abilities can enjoy.
You’ll get beautiful, panoramic views of the Haleakala Crater, and have the satisfaction of sampling at least a part of this iconic trail!
5. Pa Ka’oao Trail (Summit District)
Pa Ka’oao Trail is another short (0.4 miles roundtrip) hike from the Haleakala Visitor Center, where you hike around the base of a rocky cinder cone and up along its side on a rock and mud path with a few steps.
At the top, you get stunning views of the Haleakala Crater, the alpine desert landscape with scattered volcanic cinder cones, and people hiking on the long, winding Sliding Sands Trail far below!
Pa Ka’oao Trail is one of the best Maui hikes, and one of the highest trails on Maui. You get a real sense of how high the elevation is (about 10,000 feet) when you see the clouds way below you, moving slowly across!
Best Haleakala Hikes (Moderately Difficult)
6. Halemau’u Trail to Overlook Viewpoint (Summit District)
The complete Halemau’u Overlook Trail is about a 7 mile roundtrip, strenuous hike with considerable climbing on quite steep switchbacks.
Luckily, a shorter version of this, about 2.2 miles roundtrip, gives you some great views along the trail, and takes you to incredible views of the crater from a viewpoint just before the switchbacks.
I would rate this shorter hike easy to moderate, and hikers of all abilities should be able to sample this portion. Even the rainbow bridge, a ridge-like portion of the hike, is quite wide.
Our kids spotted some nene (Hawaiian endemic geese) on the way, apparently this trail is a popular nene-spotting hike!
7. Pipiwai Trail (Kīpahulu District)
The Pipiwai Trail, located at the Kipahulu Visitor Center, is a moderately difficult, 4-miles long roundtrip hike, with about 800 feet of gradual elevation change and climbing.
You will see the 200-feet Makahiku Falls along the way, and the trail ends at the 400-feet Waimoku Falls.
Best Haleakala Hikes (Hard)
8. Sliding Sands Trail to Crater Floor (Summit District)
Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail to the first viewpoint leaving you wanting more? One option for you is to continue the Sliding Sands Trail to the Haleakala Crater floor, about 3.9 miles along the trail (for a total roundtrip distance of 7.8 miles).
Even in this bleak, desolate landscape you will find plant life and animals: the endemic ‘ahinahina (silversword) that blooms once in its lifetime of 90+ years, and birds like the Hawaiian nene and the chukar partridge.
This option on the Sliding Sands Trail is difficult due to the high elevation and hiking on a trail of volcanic cinder dust is not easy! It is like walking on a sandy beach, where the trail dust slides under your feet.
You will descend roughly 2,500 feet to the basin, and keep in mind that you will have to climb back. A good rule of thumb is to allow twice as much time for the return trip.
Check out our detailed guide on how to hike the Sliding Sands Trail to plan this hike!
9. Sliding Sands Trail (Keonehe’ehe’e) to Halemau’u Trail (Summit District)
Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail to the Haleakala Crater floor and back as above is about an 8 mile roundtrip hike, where you climb back 2,500 feet.
If you want to see more along the trail, and don’t want to retrace your steps along the same scenery, you have an option of connecting to the Halemau’u Trail that takes you back to a different spot (the Halemau’u Trailhead), somewhat like an inverted C-trail.
The Sliding Sands Trail to the Haleamau’u Trail is a longer option (11 miles), but you end the hike at a much lower elevation (about 2,000 feet lower), so your overall hike may be easier.
Not only that, you get to see a lot more along the way, including cinder cones close up (Ka Lu’u o ka O’o Cinder Cone), vividly colored cinder cones (Pele’s Paint Pot) and a “bottomless” volcanic pit (Kawilinau).
Note, you will end up at a different point from where you started, and the recommended way to get from one to the other point is to hitchhike.
Check out our detailed guide on how to hike the Sliding Sands Trail to plan this hike!
Map of the Best Haleakala Hikes
The below map shows the locations of the best Haleakala hikes discussed and how to get to the trailheads.
Visiting Haleakala National Park, Maui
Haleakala National Park in Maui is spectacular, but to hike all these trails requires careful planning, especially since getting from the Summit District to the Kipahulu District (and vice versa) is not easy.
If you have hikes in both districts that you would like to take, plan for at least two days, one for each district.
For tips on how to plan your visit and the best things to do there, consult our detailed guide on the Haleakala National Park.
More Maui Travel Inspiration
If you are planning a visit to Maui, check out some of our other in-depth guides to craft the perfect Maui itinerary!
- The Road to Hana: Best Places to Stop
- Visiting Honokalani Black Sand Beach Maui
- Where to Go Snorkeling in Lahaina (and West Maui!)
- Hike the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls
- The Complete Guide to Whale Watching in Maui
- Molokini Crater Snorkeling in Maui
- Turtle Town Snorkeling in Maui
Did you find this article informative? Pin it on Pinterest for later!