Pipiwai Trail

Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2 to 4 hours

The Haleakala Volcano dominates the eastern side of Maui. The 10,000-foot still-active volcano’s wide slopes consume the horizon, and you’ll find the world-famous Road to Hana wrapping around its eastern side.

The Road to Hana is a road to, well… Hana. That may sound simple, but along the way, you’ll find misty rainforests, towering waterfalls, hidden beaches and authentic Hawaiian food. It’s a drive that should be mandatory for anyone visiting the romantic island of Maui. And the Pipiwai Trail, sitting on the slopes of Haleakala inside Haleakala Crater National Park, is one of the road’s gems.

But first, you’ll have to find a very popular set of waterfalls along the southeastern shore of Maui. The Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo, also known as Oheo Gulch. These seven waterfalls are a roadside attraction, and they are very popular. You’ll park here, and you’ll pop over to see the falls, but you’ll leave the crowd behind to start this once-in-a-lifetime hike. 

To find the trailhead, you simply need to walk to the Mauka (mountain) side of the Hana Highway at the Seven Sacred Pools. This trail is incredibly well maintained by the National Park Service. In fact, you’ll find boardwalks through some of the muckier sections, and you’ll also be able to take advantage of some very convenient stairs made of rock.

Pipiwai TrailThere are four points of interest along the way that will absolutely take your breath away. The first one you’ll encounter is a giant banyan tree. You’ll encounter the tree as you begin to enter the dense jungle of the hike, and it looks like it’s been taken right out of the movie Jurassic Park. The long, strong branches of the tree are mesmerizing and make for a great photo. If you confident in your athleticism, you can climb the tree for an even better picture.

You’ll meander through dense forest before emerging beside the 200-foot Makahiku Falls. You’ll watch a crystal clear stream drop into an unbelievably lush canyon. It’s so humid and full of life in the canyon that the rocks are covered in moss and the trees are draped with vines. Fight the urge to find a way down to the base of the waterfall. There’s another one up ahead.

The trail then takes you to the third point of interest -- the bamboo forest. The bamboo here towers overhead and spans out in all directions. And you’ll be safely walking on boardwalk as you gaze up at the breathtaking sight. When the wind is rustling, you’ll hear the hard bamboo stalks clacking together as the trees sway in the wind. It’s an inviting and tranquil dance.

Pipiwai TrailYou’ll have to cross a stream at the very end of the trail to get to the base of the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. This is the pay-off of the entire hike. But you’re going to have to use a little caution before you get to the spray of Waimoku. The stream here can be dangerous to cross, and you’ll encounter a sign with such a warning, so be careful as you hop across the wet rocks. 

You’ll be rewarded with views of the 400-foot waterfall in the middle of a thick jungle on the not-so populated side of Maui. It feels remote, tropical and exotic. This is one of the quintessential Hawaiian hikes.

Save for the stream crossing, this hike is incredibly safe and very well-maintained. And with only 600 feet of elevation gain, just about anyone can challenge this incredible hike. It’s a great way to leave the tourists behind at the Seven Sacred Pools, and you’ll be able to stretch your legs on your Road to Hana. 

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Price: Free
Hana, Maui