A Journey for the Body and Spirit: Hiking Maui’s Haleakala Crater

Maui's Haleakala Crater

Our hike in Haleakala Crater on Maui. All Photos taken with my Nokia Lumia Icon

Every year when I return home to Maui, I intend to hike Haleakala Crater. The last time I did the 12 miles down sliding sands and up Switch Backs was 20+ years ago with my husband. This time, my longtime friends Mike Waltze and Carol Aldred were totally up for the last-minute idea to hike the crater.

We arrived in the morning at the 10,023 foot dormant volcano, and was greeted by an old friend who planned to begin his hike where we would end ours. He kindly let us drive his car up to the next parking lot where we would begin down the Sliding Sands trail. It was great to see him along the way and stop for a chat and a snack.

Hiking down Sliding Sands

You think it’s not far until you notice how small people look below.

Starting at at the Haleakala Visitor Center at approximately 9740 feet elevation, we began our hike down the Keonehe`ehe`e
Trail (Sliding Sands Trail). It’s much easier to hike down this trail than back up at the end of the 12 mile hike.

Haleakala Crater yellow flower

This photo taken by Mike Waltze with my Nokia Lumia Icon

We had heard the Silversword (‘ahinahina) were actively blooming but had no idea there would be so many! It was a treat to see them gathered together welcoming us like old friends as we passed by. The Silversword only grows above 7000 feet elevation and bloom only once in their lifetime. They can live more than 90 years. Really quite amazing to see in person.

Silversword in Haleakala Crater

Blooming only once in their life, the Silversword can only be found above the 7000 ft elevation.

Haleakala Crater Mike Waltze

Mike Waltze in Haleakala Crater. Don’t worry, we didn’t leave him there.

Along the way we saw this pair of endangered Nēnē (Hawaiian Goose) just off the trail we were traveling on. We didn’t want to bother them so I  took a photo and moved right along. They blend in perfectly with the terrain.

Haleakala Crater and Nene

Can you spot the two Nene?

Once we reached the Holua Cabin (6940 feet elevation), we took off our backpacks and shoes and kicked back for awhile as Mike set up my GoPro Hero3 for a time-lapse.

After some snacks and water, we packed our gear and headed for Switchbacks.

Beginning the hike up Switchbacks. Beauty everywhere.

Beginning the hike up Switchbacks. Beauty everywhere.

As I hiked, I began to remember how tough this trail could be. When we reached the top, I felt exhausted but energized all at the same time.

Fogbow Haleakala

It was awesome to see a fogbow as we hiked up Switchbacks.

Near the top of Switchbacks.

“Rainbow Bridge” near the top of Switchbacks. Time for a rest and snack.

A note about footwear. I forgot my Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boots and began the hike in a pair of boots from a friend. After a couple of miles I was hurting. I am SO glad I brought these Ahnu Tildens and a pair of black socks in my backpack. We had no rain so my feet were awesomely comfortable for the next 10 miles. It’s all about the footwear in the crater!

As I watched the sunset I felt so grateful to spend the day in such an incredible place with two wonderful good friends. I look forward to returning to Maui and hiking Haleakala again!

Haleakala Sunset

Ending the day with a heart full and a body tired.

Big Mahalo to Verizon Wireless for providing me with the amazing Nokia Lumia Icon to capture these images.

You can find more info about Haleakala National Park at the National Park Service website.




  1. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO amazing!!!! Thank you for sharing! I wish I could have been there with you!!! 🙂

  2. Wow, have never done that hike myself, but loved seeing the pictures! I have to confess, I tend to avoid hikes where you start going DOWN and have to end going UP. I can’t really enjoy the first half because the second half is looming (and it always seems worse in my mind); then the second half is all effort! I’d so much go up a mountain than down a canyon or crater.

    On the other hand, sometimes what one finds going down is worth the psychological torture of eating dessert first knowing the vegetables are coming later! (And yes, I have all the maturity of a 3 year old…)

    • Joyce Cherrier says:

      Hi Crabby! 🙂 It’s definitely a mind thing. You guys should do it next time you’re on Maui. You can reserve a cabin and split the hike into two days. Lots of people do that.

  3. Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing your hike..

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