Having lived in the Hawaiian Islands for several years and taking free time to hike on all the islands and around the world (when able), I'm going to share with you this post. Use it as your one-stop-shop for your vacation or staycation hiking in Maui, Hawai‘i.
5 Best Hikes in Maui Hawai‘i
Waihe‘e Ridge Trail - 5 Miles Roundtrip - Moderate
If you only have time for one hike on Maui, this is the one to do. It is a moderate hike with views of lush valleys, Haleakalā, and Maui's coastline. The trail is well-maintained. The toughest incline is the first couple hundred yards. The majority of this hike is gradual and with switchbacks. Since it tends to get some rain and clouds, don't wear your new white tennis shoes. It is ideal to wear broken-in hiking shoes or boots.
Waihe'e Ridge is located less than ten miles outside of Wailuku and Kahului just off the Kahekili Highway. Turn off the highway at the Mendes Ranch and proceed to the parking and trailhead. It is open from 7am to 7pm. However, be warned: this is a popular hike with limited parking. It is best to arrive early morning or late afternoon to snag a parking spot.
Pīpīwai Trail - Haleakalā National Park (Kīpahulu side) - 3.5 Miles Roundtrip - Easy to Moderate
If you drive the Road to Hana, this hike is a favorite. You will need to pay for entrance to Haleakalā National Park to hike this trail. However, it is so worth it. Plus, your entrance is valid for three days. You can piggyback this trail with another mentioned below, the Sliding Sands Trail. The rewards of this trail are priceless. You will witness multiple waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and a huge Banyan Tree. Plus, if it has been raining, the finale waterfall(s) are spectacular.
As this is an easy hike, you don't need to bring a heavy pack with supplies. It is recommended to wear hiking shoes or boots that prevent you from slipping. Since the Hana side of the island is the rainy side of Maui, be prepared for everything from drizzle to downpours. That means bring raingear and pay attention to the water levels. Flash floods can occur.
Mahana Ridge Trail - Roundtrip 10 Miles - Moderate to Hard
The Mahana Ridge Trail is a great hiking option close to Lahaina. This out and back trail starts at D.T. Fleming Beach. The trail takes you through lush tropical areas with an early overlook with a view of Molokai. The farther you hike, the cooler the temperatures and the higher the probability of rain. After passing through an old pineapple plantation, you reach a shady forest. Continue until the Maunalei Arboretum and to the Pu'u Kukui Overlook for a vista (if not socked in with clouds) and your turn around point.
This is a fairly long hike that does not have many vistas. In essence, the Mahana Ridge Trail is more about the journey in nature than it is about a particular overlook. Bring your raingear as well as plenty of water.
Sliding Sands Trail (Keonehe'ehe'e Trail) in Haleakalā National Park - Roundtrip 11+ Miles - Hard
If you are interested in a full-day, high elevation hike, Sliding Sands in Haleakalā National Park is your ticket. The best way to do this trail is to shuttle. Park one vehicle at the Halemauu trailhead parking lot. Then, proceed with all hikers to the summit. The trail starts at the summit at 10,000 feet and goes down into the cater. On clear days, you can see Big Island's Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The Mars-like landscape is certainly otherworldly and great for pictures. However, there is very little shade. Wear a hat, sunblock, and SPF apparel. Once you pass the cabin, get ready for a mighty 1,300-foot switchback climb to the Halemauu trailhead parking lot.
The best advice is to bring a backpack with a full Camelbak. The high-elevation air and length of the hike require a lot of water. A great place to get a bit of shade and refuel is at the cabin. This is right before the intense switchback section. FYI: If you are not very physically fit, don't attempt the full hike. You can easily do the first mile and turn back around.
Lahaina Pali Trail - Roundtrip 7 Miles - Moderately Hard
The Lahaina Pali Trail (aka Windmill Hike) is a popular trail because of the expansive views as well as it almost always is dry. This trail can be done from Ukumehame Trailhead, Maalaea Trailhead, or as a shuttle. If you don't choose to shuttle, I recommend the Ukumehame Trailhead out and back. The vista of Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Haleakalā is better than starting at Maalaea Trailhead. Plus, once you finish, you are close to the beach for a dip, picnic, or other.
For this trail, regardless of starting point, be prepared for being exposed to the elements. Maui didn't get its nickname as the Windy Isle for nothing. Plus, there is no shade. Wear SPF apparel and/or apply lots of sunblock. Please note, the trail is all volcanic rock; so, wear good hiking footwear with support and anti-slip soles.
Interested in more about hikes in Maui or other adventure travel activities?
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