Time: 2-4 HOURS
Distance: 4 MILES
Elevation Gain: 650 FEET
Foot Traffic: HIGH
Challenges: Muddy, Falling rocks around waterfall, Stream crossing
Sights: Bamboo Forest, Waimoku Falls
What to Bring: Water, Snack
Part of the Kipahulu district of Haleakala Park, this trail is often the final stop for many exploring Hana Highway. Despite the long drive to reach this place, it is worth the visit. The trail takes you past a beautiful banyan tree, through a massive bamboo forest, and ends at Waimoku Falls, a gorgeous 400 foot waterfall. After that workout, you can take a dip in the nearby Pools of Ohe'o to wash off the grime and relax. No better way to close out this beautiful part of Maui.
Indre and my Hana adventure was coming to a close. A day and a half of beautiful waterfalls, trees, and coastline had left us satisfied. But our adventure wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala Park, and a walk along the Pipiwai Trail. While I had ventured here during my first Maui visit, I was itching to get back. With a bamboo forest, waterfall, natural freshwater pools, and numerous other gems, a return visit to this spot is a no brainer.
All the trails leave from the same area. Pipiwai heads inland as you gradually gain elevation toward the waterfall. If you wanted to visit the Pools of Ohe'o, you would follow a short trail towards the coast.
This area is actually the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park, or as I call it, the Haleakala Annex. What that means, is there is an entry fee to come here (unless you have a National Parks pass). However, if you made the trek up to Haleakala National Park in the past few days (or plan to), your entrance fee is good for 3 days, so you can save yourself a buck if you plan appropriately. That small building is the visitor center and will give you all the information you need.
Which shouldn't be much. The perks of hiking in a National Park are you get very well maintained and detailed trails. This sign helps you find good turnaround points along the trail. But we won't be stopping, of course. We will be going all the way to Waimoku.
After crossing the highway, we are off! Even after an active few days, this was the first trail that felt like a true hike. It had a little elevation gain, some mud, and even a stream crossing. All the makings of a good Hawaii hike.
Along the trail you will see some signs warning you of steep cliffs. Don't worry, this trail is plenty wide and you won't be anywhere near any sort of dropoffs. These are more of a deterrent. Rumor has it (and also the internet) there are some nice gems down there, such as an infinity pool near Makahiku Falls.
Speaking of Makahiku Falls, there it is! It It took as about 15 minutes to reach this lookout. It's a 200 foot waterfall, tucked away in this beautiful green valley.
Another landmark along the trail is this gorgeous Banyan tree. You'll see a lot of social media posts of this tree and with good reason. There is something so appealing about its thick weblike climbable branches. It looks like something out of Game of Thrones. You can get glimpses of these at some of the hotels in tourist spots like Waikiki and Lahaina, but I much prefer the ones in actual nature.
10 minutes after the Banyan Tree, you will reach a series of boardwalks that allows you to cross the river. I don't know why, but I always find boardwalks to be very satisfying to walk across. It's where man made infrastructure meets nature... in a healthy way.
The boardwalks give you a nice perspective of the stream and some small waterfalls beneath you.
But the real excitement comes after the boardwalks-- enter the Bamboo Forest. While it isn't too hard to find bamboo throughout Hawaii, this forest takes the crown. The stalks are massive, thick in circumference, and tower high above you.
Trying to look straight up at their tops, I was even more impressed.
There was a guy in front of me who picked up a fallen bamboo stalk, and started swinging it around like a lightsaber. This guy was probably my age, but was completely comfortable looking like a kid. His behavior captured how I felt in this place--nothing but pure awe and curiousity.
But we still have one more stop, Waimoku Falls. After about an hour of hiking, we finally got our first glimpse of it.
I was surprised to see that Waimoku wasn't alone. It had a few friends flowing next to it. That's just evidence to the amount of rain this part of the island gets.
Now it's decision time, how close do you want to get? At some point, you will see a sign saying the trail ends. I'd say that sign is more of a suggestion, as you will see large numbers of people ignoring it. It is there for a reason though. People have actually died underneath this waterfall, due to falling rocks hitting them in the head. Just know, that hiking to the base is a risk. There's a few paths that will get you there, I just recommend following the crowd. You will have to do some minor stream crossing, so beware if you're not sure footed.
But in my opinion, I think waterfalls are best experienced from their base. 400 feet of natural power. Being mid day it was pretty toasty back in this river valley. But the spray of the falls was very refreshing.
And despite the crowd, I was still able to find peace here. I think that's the magic of nature. It allows us to put all our anxieties behind and simply enjoy and experience raw beauty.
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Also Check Out:
- Unreal Hawaii's write up of this trail
- Haleakala National Park's webpage
- Maui Guidebook's information about Pipiwai