Are you ready to experience one of the most popular hikes in Maui? The Pipiwai Trail, located in the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park, is a must for anyone visiting western Maui. In order to get there, you’ll have to journey on the Road to Hana, a scenic, curvy stretch of coastal road that stretches on for 60 miles and features 620 curves and 59 bridges, most of which are single-lane.
Pipiwai Trail is a 4-mile roundtrip hike with spectacular views. The hike takes you above the Seven Sacred Pools of Oheo Gulch, traversing past banyan trees, waterfalls and a bamboo forest. During my hike, the weather was quite temperate but as we got to the half-way point of the hike it started to rain. The rain added to the adventure and, if anything, cooled us off from the heat of the day. It made the trek a bit muddy, though, so I would recommend wearing good hiking or walking shoes for the hike. You’ll want to be prepared for whatever weather conditions come your way. Plus, good hiking shoes will give you a better grip as you do cross a low creek, climb across several rock beds and encounter slippery, rocky and muddy terrain.
One of the first gorgeous sights you see on the Pipiwai Trail is Makahiku Falls Overlook. Located about ½ mile in to the hike, the 200 foot Makahiku Falls flows over a lush, green cliff into a valley of thick forest and bamboo. Back on the hike, which is all uphill for the first two miles, another impressive sight was the massive banyan tree found to the right of the trail. Its sprawling enormity is enhanced by root streams from almost every limb, creating a playground for hikers. Stop and take a picture in front of the trunk, or do your best monkey impression and climb a limb or two.
Another scenic spot is found a bit further along the trail. Two small waterfalls flow into one emerald pool, with a wooden bridge located above them. Take a moment to soak up the setting before traversing the bridge and continuing your hike. I was there during a rainy day, so the water was really flowing which added to the beauty.
Continuing forward, you’ll enter what many consider one of the best parts of the hike – the bamboo forest. Crossing over two bridges, one over the Oheo Stream and the other over Pipiwai Stream, you’re soon inside a dense tropical jungle straight out of a movie scene. It had begun raining again while we were in the bamboo forest but the canopy kept most of the raindrops at bay. The towering bamboo is complimented by the boardwalks laid to protect guests from the muddier portions of the hike. Although they are practical, they also add a picture-perfect element to the forest. Amazing landscape shots kept me busy for a bit, but I knew the most stunning part of the hike – Waimoku Falls – was just ahead so I trekked forward.
To see the impressive sight that is Waimoku Falls you will have to ford a small creek. You can simply walk through the creek if you don’t mind getting your shoes wet, or you can hop rocks to the other side. Believe me, though, you’ll want to make the crossing as the 400 foot falls you’re soon to see is well worth it!
I was in awe at the sight of Waimoku Falls. The extraordinary height of the water, free-flowing over sheer rock cliffs, created a truly majestic sight. In fact, when you’ve reached the end, you’re right at the base of the falls, and can walk right up and stand under them. Even at a distance, the mist rising from the waterfall is refreshing. Waimoku Fall is just asking to be photographed, but be sure to put the camera down, turn off the outside world, and simply stare at the sight before you. The magnificence of the scenic sight humbled me and made me feel even more excited about visiting Maui and seeing its splendor in all its glory.
Hiking back from the falls is rather quick as it is all downhill. Still, though, take time to relish in the sights as they are one-of-a-kind. Plus, as Pipiwai Trail is located at the end of the Road to Hana it may be the last time you make the trip and see the scenery before you.