Sliding Sands 8.5 miles 702m elevation gain 5 hours (including photos & breaks)
If you only ever do one hike in your entire life this one would be a good choice. It is absolutely stunning. Even the drive up from sea level to the 10,000 ft summit of Haleakala is impressive.
The trailhead is in the corner of the visitor centre parking lot. It was extremely windy and would you believe it, chilly. I have a thing about enjoying my landscapes in relative solitude so I was anxious to get moving, this is probably why we forgot the sunscreen.
According to our book, descending as far as the valley floor would involve a 1000m climb back out so we decided to either visit a crater or just descend as far we wanted then return. Options are good, it makes for more of an adventure.
As you descend it gets warmer. The wind dropped fast. Coats aff!
The summit visitor centre has some Silversword (ʻāhinahina) but after descending down the trail you come upon natural areas where there are 'forests'. This plant is only found on Maui above 6900 ft elevation.
You can see Silversword in all its lifecycle stages. We continued along the main trail until we came to an overlook, mostly because we kept wanting to see what was over the next hill or around the next corner. At our turnaround (1 hr 45 mins) there was a 200m drop just ahead and we could see right across the valley.
There were some amazing rocks. We got overexcited about anything lava related. Do you think it flowed right across there?!
After emptying sand out our shoes (fairly pointless since they filled right back up again) it was all uphill on the way back.
We took a trail branch toward a crater rim because it looked interesting.
The colours and light changed constantly through the day, it was fascinating. The hike uphill back out wasn't bad at all either.
Those clouds never made it over the edge. Just before the parking lot we found a couple of these little guys, they are Chukar Partridges. He was eating the flowers.
On the way back down in the car we encountered a ring of cloud roiling around the mountainside.
A perfect hike and a perfect day. We both got sunburn in a few places though. I remembered to pack shortbread but not the sunscreen! Priorities :)