Waimoku Falls, one of the best Maui waterfalls, at the end of the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park, Maui

9 Best Haleakala Hikes For 2024: Easy To Hard Trails

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.

Seven sacred pools on the Kuloa Point Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Kipahulu District, Maui
Seven sacred pools on the Kuloa Point Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Kipahulu District, Maui

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!

Bamboo forest along the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala NP, Maui

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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.

Haleakala Crater views from the Leleiwi Overlook Trail, one of the best easy Haleakala hikes
Haleakala Crater views from the Leleiwi Overlook Trail, one of the best easy Haleakala hikes

Haleakala Visitor Center sunrise viewing too crowded for you? Try the Leleiwi Overlook for a less congested option for viewing sunrises from Haleakala.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

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).

Hosmer Grove Trail is one of the best Maui hikes for bird watchers. Make sure you have a zoom lens or binoculars.

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.

Seven sacred pools on the Kuloa Point Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Kipahulu District, Maui
Seven sacred pools on the Kuloa Point Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Kipahulu District, Maui

The Kuloa Point Loop Trail is one of the best easy Maui hikes, winding along native forests, waterfalls and the coast.

Along with the Pipiwai Trail described below, the Ohe’o Gulch and the Seven Sacred Pools are a must-see stop on the road to Hana highway.

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.

Flash floods at the Seven Sacred Pools along the Kuloa Point Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes
Flash floods at the Seven Sacred Pools along the Kuloa Point Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

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!

Volcanic cinder cones in Haleakala crater from the first overlook on Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Summit District, Maui
Volcanic cinder cones in Haleakala crater from the first overlook on Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Summit District, Maui

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!

Crater views from the Pa Ka'oao Trail, one of the best easy Haleakala hikes, Maui
Crater views from the Pa Ka’oao Trail, one of the best easy Haleakala hikes, Maui

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!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

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.

Hiker admiring the view from the Halemau'u Trail viewpoint, Haleakala, Maui
Hiker admiring the view from the Halemau’u Trail viewpoint, Haleakala, Maui

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!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

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.

The Pipiwai Trail is one of the best Maui hikes, taking you through an archetypical Hawaiian rainforest jungle, replete with dense bamboo forests, picturesque banyan trees and stunning waterfalls.

You will see the 200-feet Makahiku Falls along the way, and the trail ends at the 400-feet Waimoku Falls.

Makahiku Falls and stunning tropical rainforest along the Pipiwai Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes
Makahiku Falls and stunning tropical rainforest along the Pipiwai Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes

Hiking the Pipiwai Trail is one of the best things to do in Hakeakala National Park (the Kipahulu District)!

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.

Chukar partridge, an imported game bird, on the Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes, Maui
Chukar partridge, an imported game bird, on the Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes, Maui

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.

Silversword in bloom, a once-in-a-lifetime event during its 90+ year life
Silversword in bloom, a once-in-a-lifetime event during its 90+ year life

Check out our detailed guide on how to hike the Sliding Sands Trail to plan this hike!

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

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.

Trail to the top of Ka Lu'u o ka O'o, sharp-rimmed volcanic cinder cone, from the Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes, Maui
Trail to the top of Ka Lu’u o ka O’o, sharp-rimmed volcanic cinder cone, from the Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes, Maui

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!

Hiking the Sliding Sands Trail to Halemau’u Trail is one of the best things to do in the Haleakala National Park, and is one of the best Maui hikes!

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.

Panoramic view of the Haleakala Crater from the Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Summit District, Maui
Panoramic view of the Haleakala Crater from the Sliding Sands Trail, one of the best Haleakala hikes in the Summit District, Maui

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.

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

Hiking Gear Checklist

Many of Hawaii’s hikes are demanding, make sure you are well equipped and well prepared. Here’s what we typically take with us:

>> Book these 5-star rated, highly popular, Maui Tours now!

The Best Maui Tours

Have you booked these top-rated Maui guided adventures yet?

Small-group Road to Hana tour so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views without worrying about negotiating hairpin bends or finding parking at popular stops!

A Haleakala sunrise tour so you can experience the bucket-list sunrise atop the volcano without the need to reserve a parking spot or drive up in the dark!

A Maui whale watching raft tour, which will let you see the massive humpback whales at eye level! (You can also opt for a more sedate boat whale watching tour.) A MUST winter Maui activity!

A Maui snorkeling excursion that combines the Molokini Crater with Turtle Town, the two most epic snorkeling destinations on the island!

A 7-line Maui zipline experience where you can glide over the forests on the north shore of Maui. Enjoy ocean views and navigate obstacle course challenges!

An oceanfront luau in Wailea where you can enjoy a sunset buffet and traditional Polynesian entertainment. You can also opt for a Kaanapali oceanfront luau.

Renting a Car in Maui

The best things to do in Maui are located all over the island.

Public transport options on Maui are minimal to non-existent, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Maui trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Maui car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Maui car rentals now!

Where to Stay in Maui

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Maui you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

By far the majority of visitors to Maui choose to base on the west side, where there is a large selection of accommodations available, from resorts and hotels to vacation rentals.

We suggest starting your search for Maui accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO. You can filter to choose a specific area, such as Kihei, Kapalua, or Wailea.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in Kihei and Kapalua and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Maui vacation rental on VRBO now!

Epic banyan tree on the Pipiwai Trail
Epic banyan tree on the Pipiwai Trail

More Maui Travel Inspiration

If you are considering a trip to Maui, read some of our other comprehensive guides to craft the ultimate Maui itinerary!

If you are a first-time visitor to Maui, start by reading our article on the best things to do in Maui. From beautiful beaches and lush rainforest to Maui’s volcanic crater, our round-up captures the most iconic Maui experiences and activities.

If you are dreaming of a winter getaway to a tropical paradise, read our guide on why you should visit Maui in winter!

And if you are planning a brief first visit to Maui, here’s our 3-day Maui itinerary to help you flesh out your own trip!

Driving the Road to Hana is one of Maui’s bucket-list experiences. We have a comprehensive guide to the best stops on the Road to Hana, including waterfalls and short hikes on the way.

One of the top stops on the route is Wai’anapanapa State Park, which requires reservations. Read our full guide to Maui’s black sand beach in this popular state park!

Maui boasts one of only two national parks in Hawaii. Read our round-up of the best things to do in Haleakala National Park. We also have the ultimate guide to sunrise at Haleakala.

We also have a guide to the best hikes in Haleakala National Park, and in-depth hiking guides to the two most epic hikes in the park: the Sliding Sands Trail and the Pipiwai Trail.

Speaking of hiking, also be sure to check out our round-up of the best Maui hikes, from easy to challenging. Plus, peruse our complete guides to hiking the popular Kapalua Coastal Trail in northwest Maui, and the Waihee Ridge Trail for astounding views!

We also have a round-up of the best waterfalls in Maui, from the 400-foot Waimoku Falls to Upper Waikani Falls near Hana. Some Maui waterfalls can be seen from viewpoints whereas others require hiking.

Water activities are plentiful in Maui! Check out our epic guide to whale watching in Maui, and our guide to the best Molokini snorkeling tours and the best Turtle Town snorkeling.

If you’d rather snorkel from shore, read our round-up of the best snorkel spots in West Maui.

Every Maui itinerary should have plenty of beach time: there are so many beautiful beaches in Maui that you are spoiled for choice. We have a round-up of the best beaches in South Maui, plus a detailed guide to Wailea Beach in southwest Maui, and one for Maluaka Beach along the Turtle Town stretch of coast.

We also have articles on the much-visited Kaanapali Beach, the popular Napili Beach and local favorite Keawakapu Beach. Along the northwest side, Honolua Bay is a famous surfing spot, and Ho’okipa Beach, near Paia, is a windsurfing mecca.

If you are looking to experience a different side of Maui, plan a visit to the Iao Valley State Monument. The lush landscapes and serene ambience will wow you! Also read our guide to Maui’s state parks, which include popular Makena State Park, home to Big Beach and Little Beach.

Spend a day exploring Upcountry Maui. Some of the best things to do in Upcountry Maui include touring farms and gardens. Help milk goats, tour a tea farm, go wine tasting and much more.

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Discover the best hikes in Haleakala National Park on Maui, Hawaii, from the Pipiwai Trail to the Sliding Sands Trail and more!

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