Maui offers a few hidden gems. One of my favorites is the Pipiwai Trail tucked away along the Hana Highway. Many visitors turn around in Hana, but I urge you to continue to the trail head about 10 miles farther down the road. Here you will find a large parking lot, restrooms, and a Ranger Station since this trail is part of Haleakalā National Park.
You don’t have to be adventurous for this trail but you do have to be in good enough shape to walk the two miles in and two miles back out. The trail is not ADA friendly as it isn’t paved and there are a couple sets of stairs to climb. There are plenty of places to stop along the way to take in the scenery, so as long as you start early enough in the day you can take your time.
We did have a bit of trouble locating the trail head initially, even with directions from the park rangers, though that certainly helped. There is also a large trail map next to the ranger station that we took a picture of as a little extra help. 😉 Once you are on the trail though, it is very easy to follow and there is only one way in and one way out.
If you can’t seem to muster up the energy to hike the full trail, it is still worth a stop so you can see the Seven Sacred Pools, otherwise known as Pools at Ohe’o. Great for a photo op and a chance to stretch your legs before getting back on the Hana Highway.
You can also check out the pools if you have time either before or after the Pipiwai Trail by taking the Kuloa Point Trail. We didn’t have time so this is on our ‘must do’ list for our next trip to Maui. This short trail is a half mile loop that will take you over to the Ohe’o Gulch area and the series of pools that eventually empty into the ocean.
But back to the Pipiwai Trail…You will follow along the top couple of pools that make up the Seven Sacred Pools. There used to be an access path so that you could actually swim in one of the uppermost pools but it is now closed for safety reasons. Right around here is where you’ll see the 200′ tall Falls at Makahiku. Beautiful to be certain but not the main event! More like a teaser of what’s to come.
There were a fair amount of exposed roots along the path so make sure you keep one eye on the scenery and one on the path. Soon enough you will come across a magnificent Banyan tree. It is simply massive. When you’ve had your fill of gawking at it’s enormity and picture taking, continue on through to the boring section of the trail. By no means is any part of this trail boring, but this little stretch pales in comparison to the extravagance of the other features.
As you get closer to the bamboo forest, you’ll find yourself climbing a couple sets of stairs and crossing a few bridges (also great photo ops!). Finally, you enter the bamboo forest. It.Is.Awesome. I was so excited for this part of the trail and it felt like forever before we arrived at the entrance. The sunlight doesn’t penetrate the surprisingly thick canopy very well so it is much darker and cooler here than the rest of the trail. Also very damp! You wouldn’t be sorry if you brought along a light jacket. The boardwalks the Park Service built have traction strips on them but we still came across the occasional slick spot so please be mindful.
I kept waiting for an elf or gnome or something to pop out. There is something other worldly about the forest. I could have let myself get lost here for hours.
But wait! There’s more! The pièce de résistance: Waimoku Falls at an impressive 400′ tall comes into view little by little until your jaw drops and you are officially convinced you are no longer on Earth.
We found ourselves a rock to sit on, pulled out the snacks we packed, and relaxed to the sounds and sights surrounding us. When we sensed the light was beginning to shift towards evening, we pulled ourselves away to begin the return hike (and yes we absolutely packed out the remnants of what we packed in! I ask you to do the same.).
If I could build a tiny home in the valley of Waimoku Falls, I’d do it in a heartbeat.