Hana side of Maui

One of the most exciting and exhilirating hikes on Maui is the Pipiwai Trail in Kipahulu that leads to 400 foot tall Waimoku Falls. The Pipiwai trail, a name worth repeating, is a hidden gem that many people miss in their rush through the 'Ohe'o Gulch portion of Haleakala National Park, racing to get back to "civilization."  The hike begins just above the 'Ohe'o Gulch, on the mauka (mountain) side of the road. It is approximately 4 miles round trip and will take anywhere from 3 hours, at a fast clip, to 4 or 5 hours if you linger.

The first part of the hike takes you straight uphill through a trail covered in tangled tree roots. You pass a huge Banyan tree, walk through a Hana ranchland fence (the sign asks you to close the gate as you go through), and up through an intoxicatingly beautiful bamboo forest. The bamboo stalks are hundreds of feet tall with bushy tops, which totally block the trail from sunlight in many spots. The sound of the bamboo knocking against itself in the wind sounds like a bizzare percussion instrument in the sky! The trail meanders up through a mossy, damp forest and you almost expect the crew from "Lord of the Rings" to jump out of the bushes. 

There are wild mushrooms that look like giant pancakes poking out of tree stumps. Everything is wet, wet, wet and slippery, so watch your step. It gets very dark in some places! You then cross a raging river, if it has been raining (which is often the case in the Hana region.) Then you cross it again, for a total of 4 times on your trek (2 are on the way back). Water shoes with good tread work best for this. Once you have passed the second part of the river, the enormous Waimoku Falls looms in the distance. 

As you get closer, the sound becomes thunderous. Once you reach the "Do not go any further-falling rocks" sort of sign, you are already getting totally sprayed by the force of the falls. It's more like a very strong mist than a spray. Humans look like ants in photos next to these falls and the waterfall itself will not fit into a regular digital camera frame.  Enjoy your magical time here, and be glad that the rest of the hike is all downhill! Please believe the "falling rocks" sign, as the land can change with a rockslide at a moment's notice.

This hike's difficulty is rated as "moderate".

North Maui side into Kahalawai (West Maui Mtns)


The Waihe'e Ridge Trail is accessed at about the 3000 foot level from a parking lot near Camp Maluhia. That is the Boy Scout camp located up hill from Mendes Ranch, which is on Kahekili Highway - the 'back' road around to Lahaina. The gate to the access road no longer opens at 7am and closes promptly at 6pm. Please be down the hill before that time. There are no public facilities to support an overnight stay.

  Photo Waihee Trailhead

The round trip on the trail is a 5 mile length, which ascends another 1500'. The access is through a cattle proof gate and then up a poured concrete path to keep the hillside from eroding. Voices travel very far here, so if discussions are needing to be kept private, remember that when talking while walking. The difficulty level of this hike is considered "moderate".

Since they are both steep and slippery at times a hiking pole is recommended to negotiate the rocks and mud.