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"With the magnificent Pacific views and elegant Maui condos along the beach, our stay here was magical."
If your white-knuckle ride along the Road to Hana has left any feeling in your hands, and you’re up for another couple hours of scenic delights, grab a walking stick and head out in search of Waimoku Falls on the Pipiwai Trail.
Beginning with a sunny, steady uphill climb for the first half mile or so, you may find yourself immediately re-thinking your decision, but stick with it and you’ll soon be rewarded with the shade of a thick rainforest and the luxury of stone staircases as you ascend into this other-worldly dimension in search of Waimoku Falls.
Because of the thick foliage, you may not realize it until you come upon one of the warning signs, but the early part of this trail travels alongside a steep cliff high above the seven (+) sacred pools. Although the trail sits a safe distance away, keep kids and adrenaline-junkies on the path and away from the edge.
As if to whet your appetite for big things to come, a 60’ Banyan tree sits smack-dab in the middle of the trail a short distance into the hike. Known as the symbol of eternal life in Hindu, on this trail it means time for a photo op and a water break!
From here, the path continues to weave along through an amazingly diverse landscape where simply crossing a narrow bridge high above a series of waterfalls magically transforms a tropical rainforest into a Zen-like landscape of towering bamboo. A few steps in, the light begins to fade and you find yourself in a dark tunnel of bamboo. Your steps begin to subconsciously slow and keep time with the haunting rhythm of treetops clapping in the breeze, as the comfort of a popular hiking trail is replaced with a sudden urge to glance over your shoulder for menehune.
Walking along a man-made boardwalk, built to keep you from sinking into the mud, the bamboo forest eventually gives way again to a lively rainforest where giant Staghorn ferns grace the high branches above and a trickling stream breathes a hint of what’s to come.
Only two narrow, rocky stream beds separate you from the crown jewel of the Pipiwai Trail which comes into view through the mist and the trees. Although heavenly and majestic to look at, remind those contemplating a closer look to think about how all those rocks and boulders you’re standing on got there!
Soak your feet in the cool water before heading back to the parking lot, which is easier in comparison as it is all downhill.
If you're not staying overnight in Hana, remember you still have a long drive home. Whether you go back along the Road to Hana or choose to take the straighter, sometimes one-lane road along a rocky coast around the backside of the island, you'll thank yourself a thousand times over if you leave a thermos of coffee in your car! (If you choose the latter route, be aware that this road does not connect to Makena or Kihei! It will take you up through Kula and then down into Kahului.)
As always, if you head out on this hike or any of Maui's amazing trails, please share your photos with us on our Facebook page!
Moderately difficult 3.6 mile (round trip) hike climbing 650' in elevation. Parts of the trail are slippery and there are two streams to cross at the end. Allow a minimum of 3 hours. Bring water.
Highlight: 400' Waimoku Falls
Trailhead begins in Hana, Maui at mile marker 42, across the street from the Haleakala National Park parking lot. Entrance fee for parking is $10.
Heed all warning signs as there have been serious injuries and even some fatalities.