The Path Most Traveled: Our Favorite Maui Hikes

Posted by Staff Writer on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 at 1:23pm

When coming to the Valley Isle or looking for something new to do on the weekends, Maui’s abundance of beautiful trails and hikes should never go undiscovered. With a plethora of trail options to choose from you can explore contrasting microclimates, plan a weekend camping trip, or a quick morning stroll! The options are endless. You don’t have to be a veteran hiker or trained outdoorsman because Maui offers something for everyone, even those who have never stepped foot on a trail! This is something you can do with the whole family. So pack some sturdy shoes, bring lots of water and sunscreen, and experience our favorite Maui hikes and trails listed below!

We always want people to have a fun and safe experience when exploring Maui. Please refer to the end of this blog post for an extensive list of hiking safety tips, precautions, and links to more information. 

Iao Valley State Park 

A breathtakingly beautiful yet easy half a mile hike through Iao Valley State Park would make anyone happy they put this on their weekend to-do list. This historic site was once a significant battleground for those in the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790, the victory for King Kamehameha would lead to the unification of the Hawaiian islands. As you walk through dense forest, listen to the rushing water below, and take in the sweeping mountaintops, you’ll feel how powerful a place like this can remain years and years later. Iao Valley’s botanical utopia is so profound that Mark Twain once noted it as the “Yosemite of the Pacific”. 

Twin Falls

The freshwater rain that travels down the mountain, through the Ho’olawa Valley, down to beautiful Haiku leads visitors to the magnificent twin falls pool. About 20 minutes outside of Paia town, Twin Falls is the perfect stop on the rural and waterfall-ridden road to Hana. Once you park in the gravel lot, the trail leads you on a 2-mile adventure through dense rainforest, past running streams, and along with bountiful tropical flowers and trees. Finally, you reach the cascading twin falls, descending seamlessly and peacefully alongside each other. Take a break to swim up to the waterfalls and play beneath the gentle splash and in the lush cave behind. Once you make your way out don’t forget to stop by the fruit stand for some coconut, fruit smoothies, fresh fruit, and other local snacks!

Waihe’e Ridge Trail

For the more experienced and adventurous hiker, the Waihe’e Ridge trail offers views that are only visible from this gorgeous hike. Located right outside of Waihe’e town, this trail leads you through the West Maui mountains all the way to Lanilili Peak at over 2,500 feet. As you hike past delicious guava trees, the native naupaka, and maybe some ripe passionfruit, you are able to marvel at the rugged coastline leading to Kahakuloa. You’ll see the deep valleys with rushing waterfalls in the distance and listen to native birds as they dance above the skyline. When you reach the top you can sit at the picnic tables and take a moment to appreciate your outdoor victory. So, pack your trail shoes and waterproof ponchos and get ready to see the rural side of the West Maui Mountains. 

La Perouse Hoapili Trail 

Once the sight of Haleakala’s fiery eruption in 1790, La Perouse or Keoneoio Bay, is now home to 200-year-old lava rock and the finest view of South Maui’s waters. Hoapili Trail is 5.5 miles of rugged coastline and historic Hawaiian sites like King’s Trail, the 500-year-old 220-mile path created by Chief Piilani that once led all the way to Hana. A rich coastal archeological site that was once home to native Hawaiians, the trail offers a unique look into old Hawaii, pre-colonization. Along the way, you’ll also see some wild goats, rows of Kiawe trees, and tide pools. On the right side of the trail lies the pristine La Perouse waters, home to a plethora of native fish, frequent dolphin pods, and green sea turtles, making it a snorkeling and spearfishing wonderland. 

Windmill Trail 

If you’re looking for a physical challenge that is equally rewarded with stunning views of Haleakala and the wide-open Maalaea coastline, then look no further. This grueling 10 mile, in and out hike, is not for the faint-hearted. Angling up at an intense incline, the Lahaina pali windmill hike takes you on a journey through the West Maui Mountains dry brush, historic Hawaiian foot trail, and Kaheawa wind farm’s ginormous windmills. Since the trail is fairly long, most people tend to choose to either hike the Maalaea or the Ukumehame side. We suggest exploring the Maalaea side of the trail as it holds the best views at any point of the trail. The steep terrain looks out upon the entire Haleakala mountain, Kihei and Maalaea coastline, as well as peaks of Lahaina when you reach the top. This trail was built by hand in the 1800s and was made for foot and horseback travel to and from Wailuku and Lahaina. Don’t forget to stop and look around for glimpses at native birds circling the mountaintop like, pueo (owls) or nēnē.  

Waianapanapa’s Piilani Trail

If you find yourself in beautiful Hana town, on the far east side of Maui, don’t forget to spend the day taking in the hidden gems that Hana has to offer. Famously known for its black sand beach, Wai'napanapa State Park is a breathtakingly stunning hiking destination that is worth seeing. Within the 122-acre state park, you’ll find a number of natural and historical attractions, coastline lined with lava formations, extraordinary caves, Hawaiian ruins, rare pictographs, and lush forests. While most visitors only visit the famous black sand beach in Waianapanapa, we suggest visiting the Piilani trail (also known as the Ke Ala Loa o Mui Trail), one of the many trails along the ocean. Piilani trail starts near Pa'iloa Bay and leads you down a beautiful coastal path past many tropical plants and ocean views. Though the entire six-mile hike gives an exclusive peek at the very edge of Maui, you can enjoy shorter walks on any of the marked trails for stunning scenic views. 

Haleakala’s Keoneheehee Trail or Sliding Sands

Haleakala, Maui’s famous dormant volcano that sits 10,023 feet above sea level, is more than just a breathtaking sunrise destination. Within the fertile crater lies a hiking path that resembles something out of this world. Deep red sand, exclusive plants native to the crater alone, views of Maui’s skyline, and rock gardens are only some of the amazing sights to see inside the Haleakala crater. This is a place where you can, quite literally, have your head in the clouds. All in all, the summit of the volcano has more than 30 hikeable miles inside it. Keoneheehee trail sits right below the visitor's deck and is the most famous point of entrance. Intended for the more experienced hiker, this 11-mile hike is at an extremely high altitude, exposed to vast sunlight, and can be unexpectedly challenging. So if you’re adding this to your Maui bucket list, don’t forget to diligently prepare and research before taking the plunge into our beautiful crater. 

Ka’anapali Boardwalk 

Perfect for a lazy Sunday stroll with an iced coffee in hand, the Ka’anapali boardwalk is a leisure 2-mile stroll along the stunning West Maui coastline. The convenient paved path is used daily by resort guests from the Sheraton Maui Resort all the way to the Hyatt, local beachgoers heading to Black Rock, and maybe the occasional jogger. In between, you can hop off to do some shopping at Whalers Village or grab a snack from a number of restaurants lining the boardwalk. If you look out onto the water you’ll see people enjoying parasailing, paddle boarders in the distance, and you might even spot a humpback whale or two during the season. We recommend this as a sunrise walk to start your morning or a pre-dinner sunset stroll for optimal Maui views. Best described as the hiking version of “glamping”, this is a fun activity that anyone can enjoy!

Pipiwai Trail 

The Pipiwai Trail, arguably one of Maui’s most esteemed trails, is a truly magical place in the most hidden corner of the island. A smooth four-mile hike into the island's East forest brings you to a place of towering bamboo, a colossal banyan tree that will leave you breathless, and past ridges and lush, tropical valleys. The hike begins at the already breathtaking Pools of Oheo, 7 tranquil pools of water resting at the base of Haleakala’s slopes. People have come all over the world to walk among the iconic bamboo forest and be transported to another world as they stand and listen to the quiet wind rush past the tops of the stalks. Nothing takes you into a world of ancient Maui like traveling deep into the Hana forest and being met with a 400-foot waterfall at the very end. This is truly a sight we believe is worth the windy 3 hours drive into Hana town. 

 

 

MAUI HIKING TIPS:

Always bring a buddy and let someone (even the front desk) know where you’re going 

Bring plenty of water and non-perishable food (most rescue cases are hikers dehydrated) 

Use lots of sun protection because you can get disoriented from the sun 

Wear sturdy shoes and adequate clothing  

Always bring basic first aid supplies 

Never disrespect the land, wild animals, or sights (most animals on Maui are protected, like the green sea turtle and monk seals, so please mind your distance, do not feed them, and never touch them)

Always leave trails better than you found them (please pick up any trash you see, including your own) 

If it is raining or cloudy on the mountains, never go on hikes in case of flash flooding that can sweep people off marked trails unexpectedly 

Never take rocks or sacred items 

Pay attention to trail signs and always research where you are going (you might accidentally enter private property)  

Always start your hikes either in the early morning to leave room for error (you never want to get caught on a hike after sundown) 

Never jump off cliffs or rocks when swimming because there could be hidden boulders or the water level could change instantly (many people have had to be rescued from hitting their heads underwater) 

Make sure your phone is charged and you know exactly where you are in case first responders need to find you

 

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