Lahaina Pali Trail

The Lahaina Pali Trail connects you to ancient Maui. This is the footpath that tribal Hawaiians took from Wailuku to Lahaina, and they often did it barefoot. Just remember that when you’re out of breath, covered in sweat and burning up under the tropical Maui sun on this rugged hike. 

The Honoapiilani Highway was the first road cut into this section of Maui, and it was built back in 1951. That means Hawaiians living on Maui during World War II still had to use this hot, exposed track to travel to certain parts of Maui’s west coast. Now, it’s simply a challenging hike for those who need a good lung-burner to keep in shape during vacation.

Choose Your Own Adventure

This is a five-mile out-and-back trail, and you get to choose your own adventure. There is a parking lot on each end of the trail, and both parking lots are at about sea level. The path then ascends in an arch with a summit of 1,600 feet before descending down to the other parking lot.

You can choose to hike the entire arch, from the parking lot to the parking lot, which means you’ll ascend more than 3,000 feet of elevation over 10 miles. This can take even the most experienced hiker more than 10 hours, so it’s advisable to simply get someone to pick you up in the other parking lot so that you don’t have to go over the arch and back in the same day.

Most choose to hike to the summit for sweeping views over the sparkling Pacific with Molokini, Lanai, and Kahoolawe off in the distance before returning to their parking lot. That would make the hike five miles with an elevation gain of 1,600 feet which should take you four to five hours.

You can find the eastern trailhead on Highway 30 near the intersection of North Kihei Road. Keep your eyes peeled. Most tourists miss the parking lot’s gate. The hike to the arch’s summit from this parking lot is much more strenuous than from the western parking lot.

Take the easier route from the western parking which you can find at Ukumehame Beach State Park just off Highway 30. Look for a shaded parking lot just after the tunnel. And while this is decidedly the easier route to the summit, you’ll still have to gain 1,600 feet which means you’ll be huffing and puffing on your way up.

Prepare For Your Hike

Pali is Hawaiian for a cliff or steep slope, so you’re in for quite an elevation gain no matter which side of the trail you choose to challenge. Make sure to bring plenty of water for the duration of your hike, and, once you’ve packed that water, make sure to pack more. Almost every tourist runs out of hydration on this hot and exposed trail.

You’ll also need plenty of sunscreens as there is very little shade for the duration of your hike. Make sure to apply sunscreen in the shade at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and then reapply every two hours along your journey. 

Wear sturdy shoes. There are steep angles on the dirt path and plenty of rocks. You’ll also want a good grip as you’ll be hugging the side of a “Pali” for the duration of the hike. And make sure to pack a camera because the views are stunning.

Use The Windmills For Motivation

This hot and dusty hike will challenge you, and, before you give in to the voice inside your head telling you to stop, make sure to look towards the summit. You’ll be able to make out the tips of giant windmills as you ascend the summit, and you can use these waypoints for motivation to complete your climb. 

Once you’re at the top of the Lahaina Pali Trail, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views in Hawaii. Off in the distance, you’ll be able to make out the hazy outlines of other islands above the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific. Of course, you’ll be able to see the towering Haleakala Volcano off to the east, and you’ll have front row seats to the Kaheawa Wind Farm.

It’s easy to get lost in a trance watching the tall grass of the Pali’s slope sway in the wind only to watch that blast of wind speed up the wind farm’s 36 turbines. Each windmill is 168 feet tall and features 115-foot turbines. It’s the future of the island’s energy, and you can view the future in all of its glory from a historic trail.


When you book on Hawaiian Planner, you are booking directly with the tour companies that provide the tours. If you need to adjust or cancel your tours, please contact the company directly from the order. Some of these tour companies will provide Hawaiian Planner with a referral fee that helps us maintain this site and does not cost travelers any extra. Please book through our site wherever possible to help us continue to add new features to help plan your Hawaiian vacation. Aloha.
Price: Free
Wailuku, Maui