Take Hwy 37 as described in the "Getting There" section but continue on south past the junction to the summit to where the road becomes Hwy 31. Follow this increasingly narrow, winding road toward Kaupo. The trail starts 1.45 miles up the roughly paved road .11 mile to the right (east) of the store on the left (landward or Mauka) side of the highway. (The store may or may not be open at any given time, so be sure to have acquired what you need for this hike before you get to here)
In order to gain the full 10,000 vertical on this trek you will have to make your way down the road and start at the beach about .8 mile and 320 vertical feet below the store. The most efficient way to do this is to go east .5 mile on the hwy, turning south on a side road and following it down to the beach another .3 mile. This is posted "no Trespassing" but appears to be state land so it should be ok to hike down the road to the ocean. Here is a detailed map with mileages for the start of this route:
Detail of the start of this route
Once at the right hand side of the Kaupo store, facing the mountain, go to the east .11 miles and turn uphill on the roughly paved single lane road. The trail starts out as a jeep road quickly turning into a regular trail. It goes on and off old grades, currenty used ranch roads and old overgrown roads but is easy to follow and has a pretty good supply of shade for much of the distance. This is private land until you cross the park boundary at 3.1 miles from the TH, but the owners have given hikers permission to pass. After about 3.8 miles more, pass the junction leading to the Paliku shelter taking the left fork. The most direct route to the summit is to always take the left forks for the rest of the trail. The last few hundred yards of trail are on the summit road, finally arriving at the 10,023 ' summit. Congratulations! You've just done over 10,000 vertical in one continuous hike! Now all you have to do is fill your water bottles at the visitor center and return on the same trail - (yeah, sure!)
The trail is rough in sections and there is no shade once in the upper valley so good footwear, a hat and sunscreen are neccesary. There is no water (unless you count the stock watering holes and tanks on the lower kaupo section of trail)for the entire 17.8 miles so bring plenty. (17.8 miles one way if you start at the shoreline; 15.6 miles one-way if you start at the regular trailhead.)You start out firmly in the tropics but end up in the subarctic so light gloves and a windbreaker may be useful as well, especially in winter months.
You are unlikely to see anyone on the Kaupo section of this trail and very few people, if any, until you are within about 4 miles of the summit on the Sliding Sands Trail so know what you are getting into and plan accordingly.
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
Successful downclimb of Haleakala on May 29-30, 2009. From Paliku the trail was a bit overgrown but followable on the descent. It's fairly well marked in the confusing areas. One should be prepared for the descent, but it's not nearly as steep/scary as the NP would have you believe.
Finding the lower trailhead to drop a shuttle vehicle is probably the crux. The road is just east of the Kaupo Store. One lane, it looks like it was once paved, but is in the process of being absorbed by the jungle. Drive carefully as this road is still in use. Drive upwards to the signed trailhead at about 1mi, 1040' elevation.
Successful hike up the mtn from Kaupo trail head 12/21/2012. The road to the trail head was easy to find and much less rough than it appeared. Take first left after passing the General Store and drive 1.45 miles to trail head with parking for at least 6 cars available.Drove to the trail head in a compact car without difficulty, with the exception of getting two horses to move out of the way on a narrow single lane road fenced on both sides. There has been an attempt to mark the trail with brown trail markers, however they are spaced at variable intervals and difficult to follow. Lost the trail several times. Ended up on a dirt road that my garmin gps loaded with a 24k topo map showed was an " unnamed road" about several hundred yards west of the gap trail.This was about halfway up the trail to the park boundary. Tried going down, east etc without success in finding the trail. Finally went back up to the original dirt road which ended at a pasture fence. At this point, climbed the fence , continuing on the road , which at this point was an easily followed grass road that took me to the trail. One of the difficulties in following the trail early in the hike is it is so lightly traveled that the wildlife trails ( wild boars ) have made more prominent trails than hikers and there are more than several old overgrown roads. Once inside the national park the trail is easy to follow but the first several miles are very narrow single track , often through thick foot high grass that will get boots easily saturated if it is raining.
Had planned to hike to the start of the crater at 8.6 miles and hike back down to my car.The hike was an example of the weather differences on the mountain. In the gap it was windy, est. at times 40mph winds, driving rain and cold. Come prepared with layers !!! Came upon my first hikers at the 10 mile to summit sign. Was informed it was beautiful and sunny most of the way to the summit through the crater.. Decided to summit. Great decision. Great weather and interesting and beautiful landscape. Hitchhiked down the mountain and took a very expensive cab ride back to Kaupo.
Looking for wildlife ? Started the hike an hour before sunrise. Numerous pairs of eyes reflecting back at me through the brush the first 1-2 miles up the trail. Wild boars and a few deer with large antlers.
Would agree with mandrake that the steepness, and difficulty of the terrain posted on other sites is overstated . Made the summit in a little under nine hours, including at least a half hour of backtracking ,etc. trying to find the trail in the first part of the hike outside the park boundary.