Hiking Goals – Maui Edition, Where to Hike During an Upcoming Trip

Here we are in March. The weather has been pretty forgiving by Wisconsin winter standards and it seems like we are finally breaking the grasp of winter. Except for the large, stubborn piles, most of the snow has melted to expose the brown grass underneath. (What a beautiful time to be in Wisconsin.) I’ve talked about this before, this is the time of year I start to get even more restless and my cabin fever spikes. The itch to get outside is strong, but the weather isn’t quite warm enough. So close, yet so very far.

Well, you know what? I leave for Maui in 19 days.

So when I think Maui, I think this:

Maui1.jpg(Photo: GoHawaii.com)

Sand, water, and warmth. Don’t get me wrong, I want a significant amount of my time spent this way, but I’m hoping I can do more than that. I want to explore the island the best way I know how, hiking!

Similar to my 2018 Wisconsin hiking goals, I bring you the Maui edition. Not goals, per se, but more a prepared list of possibilities.

Full disclosure, I have never been to Maui. All of the information that follows is based on maps, pictures, and reviews I found online. Please, correct me when I’m wrong, tell me which hikes are actually awful, and suggest other hikes for the trip in the comments.

Pipiwai Trail — Haleakalā National Park

Pipiwai 2
Pipiwai 1(Photos: NPS.gov)

This national park pops up on every single search I do for Maui hikes and it seems there is a good reason for that. Haleakalā is the volcano on the east end of the island that is responsible for creating more than 75% of Maui. It is thought that the last eruption happened around 1790. The park today is pretty diverse and includes many different landscapes, plants, animals, and elevations.

The Pipiwai Trail is 4 miles roundtrip starting from the trailhead in the Kipahulu area of the park (on the southeast side of the island.) This area is 12 miles past the town of Hana on the Road to Hana. (This is also usually the last stop for folks driving the Road at Hana as most rental car companies won’t allow you to drive further on the backside of the island. Apparently beyond this point it gets fairly rough and untamed.) This trail passes through bamboo forests on the way to Waimoku Falls. Along the way hikers can see other falls and pools off the trail. While part of this trail is a boardwalk, reviews say the trail is still usually very muddy and requires planning ahead for proper shoes.

Kuloa Point Trail and Kahakai Trail —
Haleakalā National Park

Kuloa(Photos: NPS.gov)

In the same area of the park (Kipahulu) but heading toward the coast is the Kuloa Point Trail. This trail is a short, half mile loop that leads from the visitor center to the coastal pools. Hikers can continue on the Kahakai Trail (which leads to a campground) for more stunning ocean views. This portion is a liner half mile, so there and back plus the loop is about a 1.5 mile excursion.


Sliding Sands  (Keonehe’ehe’e) Trail —
Haleakalā National Park

Sliding Sands 1

Sliding Sands 2
(Photos: NPS.gov and TripAdvisor.com)

Starting from the summit at the Haleakalā Visitor’s Center, this trail descends into the crater below. I’ve heard the landscape of the crater described as something you would find on Mars. This trail is long, strenuous, and challenging. It’s common for hikers to camp along the way and complete the trail over the course of several days. Most hikers, the less hardcore variety, hike in for a mile or two before turning back.

This trail is the most challenging on the list and requires the most preparation. Remember, every foot you descend is a foot you need to ascend later. The crater floor is almost 3,000 feet below the summit. In addition to the distance and the incline, hiking around 10,000 feet is hard. Like the panting, cannot catch your breath kind of hard. Be very prepared for the distance you plan to go and give yourself plenty of time.


‘Iao Needle Lookout Trail and Ethnobotanical Loop — ‘Iao Valley State Monument

Iao 1
Iao 2(Photos: HawaiiStateParks.org)

The trail itself is an easy 0.6 mile walk to a scenic view of the ‘Iao Needle. The needle is a 1,200 foot erosional feature that reaches out of a valley rich in cultural and spiritual significance. The state park is located on the northwest part of the island, close to Kahului. This area was damaged by heavy rains a few years ago and was shut down for repairs. There is conflicting information online whether the park is up and running again or not. It seems to lean towards yes, but it might be best to find out more before committing to this.


Ke Ala Loa O Maui / Piilani Trail —
Waiʻānapanapa State Park


waian 2(Photo: HawaiiStateParks.org)

This moderately difficult 3 mile trip takes hikers up and down barren lava with stunning views of the coast. The trail follows the shoreline but can be difficult to follow at times because it isn’t always well marked. The trail ends at a boulder beach, indicating the point to turn around and head back. It is not clear whether the beach is marked as the end of the trail or not. (Knowing me I would miss that beach and keep on walking.) The trail is 1.5 miles each way, making for a 3 mile round trip.


So there it is, a list of a few possibilities. I know there are many, many more options out there and I’m open to hearing all of them. Like I said above, suggestions and corrections are encouraged and appreciated.

Happy hiking!

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