FATMAP difficulty grade
This hike is for those who want to extend the [Sliding Sands Trail](https://fatmap.com/routeid/2763713) and traverse a greater expanse of the Haleakalā Crater.
You’ll start at the summit visitor center and go down Sliding Sands to the crater floor, then go up Halemau'u Trail, finishing at another trailhead several miles down the road.
There is no shuttle offered by the park, but there is a designated “hiker pick-up” area near this trailhead, where motorists are invited to give hitch-hikers a ride to the visitor center.
Thus, you should park your car at Halemau'u trailhead on your way up the mountain, then hitch the rest of the way to the visitor center to begin your hike.
That way your car will be waiting for you when you finish. Despite the additional logistics of the shuttle, this hike has distinct advantages over the out-and-back on Sliding Sands.
First, though you are committed to completing more than 11 miles to reach your car, the elevation gain from the crater floor is less than if you hiked all the way down and all the way back on Sliding Sands.
Second, you’ll witness even more diverse environments within the crater by hiking Halemau’u.
This trail goes through the volcanic moonscape and into a greener area, where grasses and shrubs carpet the crater floor.
It then climbs steep switchbacks through lava-rock cliffs, lined with surprisingly lush vegetation, and with unique views over the interior of the crater. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/hiking.htm https://www.flashpackingamerica.com/hawaii-travel/hitchhiking-haleakala-national-park-from-halemauu-trail-maui/