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“Maui's temperate forest offers many magical surprises for shutterbugs!”

Reviewed March 23, 2013

Poli Poli is one of those places that is LEAST understood by the people that live here on Maui. The road has never been an easy one to navigate, even when I started going up there in the 70's to camp in my VW camper. I remember wrapping Christmas presents "by flashlight" with the cold mists of the mountain pressing against the side of my van. It is a pretty bad road and I certainly NEVER take my Miata up there! If it's raining, it's a mud bath for any vehicle. It's truly an "off the beaten track" experience.

Poli Poli, like Kokee on Kauai and other areas in Hawaii (and lost of places in the USA), were part of the CCC (Conservation Civilian Corp) projects that put American's back to work during the great Depression of the 30's. Before the coming of the white man to the islands, the slopes of Haleakala were covered with forests of Ohia, Sandalwood, Koa and Mamani. The CCC forest plantings were a combined effort to re-forest areas that had been wiped out and give the very sad economy of the 30's (50% unemployment) a boost. Many residents wonder what the big deal is because it is a planted forest. Their loss is "our" gain because that means you and I get to enjoy it more :)

As a nature lover and photographer, I adore Poli Poli. I'm also a big fan of the cloud forest-esk environment with magical misty clouds weaving in and out of the stately pines and then a burst of dazzling blue sky, the melodic twitter of the japanese bush warbler and the brilliant flash of crimson when an I'iwi bird darts by. At 6,800 it's COLD up there and can often rain when it is sunny and clear as a bell in the valley below. There is a camp ground (permit only). Rain gear required!!!

Although much of the forest was burned down by a gigantic fire in Dec 2006, the new growth is coming along nicely and actually gives you a better opportunity for bird watching. The I'iwi is one of the very few indigenous birds left in Hawaii and we are lucky on Maui to have a good population. Even though Poli Poli really does NOT have ANY native plants to speak of, these "survivors" find the nectar they need to survive. There is a sage colored bush with pink flowers that they are particularly fond of.

The one trail that was not affected by the fire was the Ranger Cabin Trail.
The cabin is abandoned and surround with hydrangea plants/flowers. It's an easy trail and very enjoyable. Instead of coming into the main part of the park, you can drive up to the Poli Poli ridge area and there are some great vantage points and some hiking areas.

I'm a sunset shutterbug in addition to rainbows, beaches, clouds, sunrises, etc. What Poli Poli has given me are stunning photos of sunlight and sunset through clouds & trees. Refraction of light seems to be the most special element of Poli Poli's photographic charm.

There is good cell service (and internet) in Poli Poli. If you get stuck you can call AAA :) An SUV type vehicle is definitely recommended. Bring tennis shoes if you plan on hiking. Bring a jacket/sweatshirt or something warmer. It was 46 at my house this AM and I'm only at 3,200 ft elevation. Poli Poli is 6,800! Invest in those one/some of those cute little ponchos in a pouch that cost about $3-5. I have one of those lifesavers in my car and in my travel bags. They are small, light and give you the freedom to do things in the rain (whether warm or cold rain). They can also help keep you warm. Don't leave home without it! If you are going to go up for sunset, bring a flashlight (or put the FREE App on your iphone :)

Stop by the Kula Marketplace on your way to Poli Poli (by the Kula Lodge) and get some goodies to eat and WATER! They even sell pizza by the slice!

6  Thank MelissaMcCoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 19, 2012

We had a lot of fun driving up this one lane road! Unfortunately we were driving a low clearance vehicle and so we could not get to the actual park because the last few miles are unpaved and can be dangerous when wet. However even if you do not have a high clearance car we felt it was worth it for the views and adventure to be had on the drive up! There is plenty of room to turn around if you need to before the dirt road starts.

1  Thank Stephanie T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2012

It is certainly not easy to get to, but that's part of the fun! Just take Waipoli Road and keep going. The dirt road says 4 wheel drive only. Not the case. We were able to get there and back in a Hyundai Genesis. However, we almost got stuck, so only do it with a vehicle that has good ground clearance.

The views of West Maui are fantastic from here and the traffic is very light so don't hesitate to stop for pics. You will see where a forest fire burned several years ago. Not even Hawaii is immune to this kind of natural disaster. Thank goodness it didn't burn the redwood trees which you'll be walking through.

Once at the parking lot, don't worry if you need to use the facilities. We were amazed to find not just an outhouse, but an actual working toilet. It was quite clean, too! The trails from here lead to the water with more great views. Have fun!

1  Thank ColoradoBuffGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2011

I am not sure what we were expecting to find here, I thought there was a redwood forest. We drove the rental car as far as the paved road went, following the one-lane road through the switchbacks up the hill. The views were often obscured by the clouds, but the forest was pretty cool. It is a hunting area, and they are hunting for pigs and pheasant. Pull over when the locals come hauling up the road in their big 4-wheel drive trucks!

To get here, drive past the Alii Kula Lavendar Farm. Pass through a grassy area that the local hang-gliding club uses to fly it is so steep. As you drive into the forest, you'll pass a disk-golf (frisbee) park, causing plenty of confusion if you have never seen the goals spread around in the woods before. Keep driving, twisting and turning up and up. Notice the pig trails and the plants, it is really pretty here. We picked some blackberries as big as my thumb, and came across banana poka passion fruits.

Next time we visit Maui we'll rent a high-clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle to take on the dirt part of the road. We turned around after the car bottomed out twice. It is something to look forward to, and something most tourists will never bother to see.

3  Thank karen1monger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 13, 2011

We drove half way up the windy road to do a hike with a toddler in the backpack only to find out that the park was closed! Check before going - the gate is unfortunately a couple switchbacks beyond the Lavender Farm.

1  Thank beartrax79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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