Time: 3 HOURS (One way)
Distance: 5 MILES (Point to Point)
Elevation Gain: 1500 FEET
Foot Traffic: LOW
Challenges: Shadeless, Some uneven footing
Sights: Maui Coastline
What to Bring: Sunscreen, Hat, Water, Snack
Located in central Maui, this point to point hike allows you to traverse the lower portion of the West Maui Mountains. Along the way you will get a great vantage point of the exterior Haleakala Crater, a clear view of central Maui, and if your vision is good, a glimpse of Molokini Crater located just off the coast. While this completely shadeless hike will have you sucking your water, the unique perspective you get of the Valley Isle will make it worth the trek.
Road to Hana complete. And after a pleasant morning exploring Maui's south shore off Kihei, Indre and I were off to our next stop, camping at Camp Olowalu on Maui's western shore. But the day wouldn't be complete without a little hike. Conveniently, the Lahaina Pali Trail was right along our path. Indre being the awesome team player that she is, offered to drop me off a pick me up at the two trailheads, so I didn't even have to make the full 10 mile round trip. No better way to tire myself out before a night sleeping on the ground!
You have options when it comes to attacking this trail. There are two trailheads, the ocean side (Ukumehame) or valley side (Maalea). If you want to traverse the trail in its entirety, you can stage cars, have an Indre who will pick you up, or do a grueling 10 mile out and back hike. The other option is to just do half the trail, in which case you have to choose which views you want.
The Maalea trailhead is located off the side off Honoapiilani highway. And if you can't tell from this picture, that highway sees a lot of traffic. Those cars are actually heading the same direction as me. But our journeys to get there will be quite different...
There is actually a dirt parking lot for this hike, but it requires driving along this unpaved road. Overall, the road is drivable with most cars, but I didn't want to take advantage of my Uber driver too much, so I decided to hoof it to the trailhead.
And we are off! The brown terrain here was quite the contrast to the lush green we had seen driving around Hana the past few days. It reminded me a lot of the West Side of Oahu. But I don't think the color takes away from the hike. It just adds to the diverse landscape of Maui.
And if brown ain't your thing, just take a look out towards the ocean. You have a nice view of that deep blue Pacific and a clear view of the exterior of the famous Haleakala Crater (currently covered by the clouds). Another thing you can see here is that traffic jam--it's brutal! Wonder if Indre is stuck down there somewhere? Hopefully she's got some good podcasts or tunes to entertain her...
One major caution about this trail, it is completely exposed. This leafless tree is about the extent of shade you can expect. Lots of water and sunscreen are a must.
As you gain elevation in the trail, you will start to get a more expansive view of the Northern shore of Maui. The views on this trail really give you a good perspective of Maui's overall shape. It is basically two volcanoes with a flat valley separating them. After having hopped from island to island several times at this point, I'm always looking for the differences between the landscapes.
Definitely different than Oahu, but equally as stunning.
One of the other unique aspects of this trail is that you will actually pass through the Kaheawa Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms in Hawaii, using it's 35 wind turbines to power nearly 20,000 homes across Maui.
On your way to the windmills, you will come across a "crossroad." This is the area where you will start seeing a few no trespassing signs. But it is all well marked so you probably won't end up hiking somewhere you aren't supposed to (as long as you're paying attention).
There are those wind turbines. Let's go in for a closer look.
Just keep your eyes peeled so you don't accidentally veer off the wrong path.
After an hour and a half I had reached the windmills. This is roughly the halfway point of the trail, so if plan on doing half the trail, it's a good place to turnaround. Windmills are so interesting, from a distance they never look as big as when you get right next to them. And they seem to move so quickly. That wooshing sound you hear as they spin is pretty intense. Nothing but 100% clean renewable energy right there.
And they are just as impressive from the sky.
A nice little view towards the peak of the western Maui mountain range.
But the hike wasn't quite over yet. I still had to make my way along the western portion of the trail.
This trail is quite similar to the first half-- brown, rocky, with almost no shade.
But the view is a little different. Here you are closer to that expansive ocean view and looking out towards the Western part of the island. Off in the distance you can see the island of Kaho'olawe, AKA "The Bombing Isle," nicknamed for the extensive military testing conducted on it back in WWII.
And if you keep your eyes peeled you will get a good glimpse of the famous Molokini Crater, sitting right between Maui and Kaho'olawe.
After 3 hours of winding along the trail, I finally arrived at the Ukumehame entrance. From here, it was a short walk to the dirt lot, where Indre had graciously fought the traffic to scoop me.
While it may not be the sexiest hike at first glance, Lahaina Pali offers quite a beautiful and unique perspective of the Valley Isle. Now it's time to eat a little campside dinner and let the gentle sounds of the ocean help me drift off to sleep.
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Also Check Out:
- Maui Guidebook's writeup of Lahaina Pali
- Hawaii Magazine's post about Lahaina Pali