Mahana Ridge Trail--Maui

February 15, 2020

Difficulty: BEGINNER-INTERMEDIATE

Time: 4-6 HOURS

Distance: ~10 MILES to Honolua Ridge Trailhead

Elevation Gain: 1600 FEET

Foot Traffic: LOW

Challenges: Lengthy to reach Arboretum, Potentially Muddy

Sights: Lanai, Maunalei Arboretum, Kapalua Golf Club

What to Bring: Water (>1L), Snacks, Hiking Shoes

 

Located on the island of Maui, this hike is perfect for those looking to find a little escape from the tourist vibes of Lahaina. The first portion of the hike is a long slow uphill with periodic views of the West Maui coastline. After a few miles, you will enter the forest and be surrounded by beautiful trees, including massive Cooke and Sugi Pines. If you're willing to cover even more distance, you can take this trail all the way to the Maunalei Arboretum and experience some unique lookouts and even more foliage near the Honolua Ridge Trailhead. Whether you're a tree lover, trail runner, or just looking for a way to burn a few beer calories, this hike can certainly help deliver that fix.

 

Back to the Valley Isle for the first island hop of 2020! While this trip was actually centered around scuba diving, I still managed to find time to squeeze in quite a few hikes in 3 days. So after diving off the coast of Lanai in the morning, I made my way to Lahaina for my first hike of the trip-- Mahana Ridge

 

 The trail is a long gradual ascent up Mahana Ridge that ultimately leads to the Maunalei Arboretum. In the past, you could access the Arboretum via a shuttle, but that is no longer available, so if you want to make it there you will have to hike it.

 

 The start of the trail is in a bit of an odd location. It starts at D.T. Flemming Beach and the trail actually takes you under the highway before beginning the ascent. You can park at the beach lot, but because of the popularity of the beach getting a spot can be a challenge. From the lot, walk back a short ways along the road and look for a green building to your right. Just past the green building will be this sign which marks the trailhead.

 

 And off we go! The hike begins along a dirt trail.

 

Which goes underneath the Honoapiilani Highway.
 

Followed by a few road crossings. There's plenty of markers guiding your way here, although I did manage to get off the trail and started walking down one of these roads on the return trip... 

 

 Soon you will reach this steep road. Continue up.

 

 And cross the road yet again, turn around and take in this beautiful view. This spot ended up being one of my favorite views of the entire hike. Just below the clouds is the neighbor island of Lanai, where I was diving this morning. I suppose if you were just looking for a quick little hike you could call it a day here.

 

 But we will be continuing onward. Around this section you may see a few golf carts pass and a tee box. You are on the edge of the The Plantation Course at the Kapalua Golf Club. This course is quite famous as it hosts the PGA Tour Tournament of Champions Event at the beginning of each year. Unfortunately, we didn't pay the $300+ greens fees so we need to stay off the course. Follow these (sometimes not so visible) signs to continue along the trail.

 

 Soon we will get into the nice shade of the trees. This will be what you see for the much of the remainder of the hike.

 

 But if you want to see the best trees, you gotta make it to the Arboretum, so keep making the ascent. 

 

 There are a couple more views on the way up, like this great lookout of the golf course. How about that backdrop for your tee shot?

 

 Continuing on a bit farther you will run into a barbed wire fence. Head left and continue uphill.

 

But be sure to take a look at what's behind the fence--this pleasant reservoir. This is a nice lookout because you can still see the ocean and Lanai in the background. If you are more of a view person, this would be a good spot to turnaround.

 

Because it's about to be mainly trees from here on out. After the reservoir head left at a fork in the trail.

 

Within minutes you will enter a Cook Pine forest. Those sturdy trunks and symmetrically carved notches are a work of art.

 

And the sunbeam shining through the towering leaves is simply majestic.

 

 After about 1.5 hours of hiking, we finally reached the Arboretum.

 

 In here, there are several mini trails you can take, although I did not explore all the different paths. Instead, I would head to the Honolua Ridge Trailhead, which marked the end of the trail.

 

But I did make a few pitstops, including at the Pu'u Ka'eo Lookout with its view towards the West Maui Mountain Range or Maui Komohana.

 

 And a short side path to the this nice Banyan Tree.

 

 After nearly 2.5 hours I reached the Honolua Ridge Trailhead. It's too bad there's no shuttle running up here anymore, I would have happily taken a ride back down. Oh well. After a quick snack, I began the 5+ miles back down to sea level.

 

 But I can't complain too much. It gave me the opportunity to take in some of those views one more time.

 

An afternoon well spent in West Maui. After a quick dip and chill at DT Flemming Beach it was time to grab a bite and head to my campsite for the night. I had to make sure I was well rested for the next day for what would be yet another action packed day.

 

 

Enjoy this post? Leave a comment below! 

 

Also Check Out:

     - This post about Mahana Ridge

     - This website with details about the hike

 

 

 

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