The Pipiwai Trail is a spectacular hike in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park which features two major waterfalls, numerous cascades, natural pools, and a Bamboo forest. Difficulties encountered on the hike include being prepared for the potential of flash floods and sudden rockfall, staying away from sheer cliffs, obeying signs and staying out of closed areas, staying out of any flooded streams, and staying away from the base of waterfalls. A photograph of the trail map overview sign can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 20° 39.715'N, 156° 2.706'W. GPS coordinates for the (estimated) end of the trail are 20° 40.653'N, 156° 3.386'W.
The Pipiwai Trail is one of the best well-known hiking destinations on Maui. Although it is located within Haleakala National Park, the location is far removed from the volcanic cinder cones high up in the mountains. The hike takes place within the Kipahulu District, which is located on the southern coast about 11 miles southwest of Hana. So one of the biggest challenges to carrying out this hike is just getting to the starting point. Most people do this by driving the Hana Highway from Kahului to Kipahulu. This driving route is part of the legendary Road to Hana, made famous by having around 620 curves and 59 bridges (with 46 of those bridges being one-lane wide). Our group got up early one morning at our condo in Kihei, drove the Road to Hana, stopped in Hana for lunch, and then continued on to the trailhead. After our hike, we ended up completing the full circuit by driving the much rougher and more isolated Piilani Highway back to Kihei, which is considered the back way to and from Hana. As for the hike itself, the Pipiwai Trail is about 4 miles in length RT with an elevation gain of 800 feet (according to the NPS). The hike begins at the Visitor Center near some informational signs about the area. A short distance into the hike, the Kuloa Point Trail splits off to the right and heads down to visit the Seven Sacred Pools (or Pools of Oheo Gulch). At the bottom of that trail, you can overlook the spot where the Pipiwai Stream enters into the Pacific Ocean and walk along the sea cliffs. Back on the Pipiwai Trail, the route soon crosses the Hana Highway and quickly begins gaining elevation. The first highlight of the trail is the overlook of 184-foot high Makahiku Falls. Makahiku Falls is quite impressive. From the viewpoint, you can also see what is known as the Infinity Pool above the waterfall. However, access to the Infinity Pool and top of the waterfall is no longer allowed due to tragic deaths which have taken place during flash floods. Beyond the first major waterfall, a massive Banyan tree is passed and then several bridges are crossed. The first large bridge crossing leads into the Bamboo forest, one of the true highlights of this hike. Hiking through the Bamboo forest is something that has to be experienced to fully appreciate. If you allow the hiking crowds to thin out, it can be quite surreal to walk through the towering bamboo culms, which are so thick and tall that sunlight barely penetrates at times. The Bamboo forest makes for great photography, as long as your camera works well in various types of lighting. At the end of the trail, a viewpoint of 400-foot Waimoku Falls is reached. Waimoku Falls is the tallest waterfall on Maui that is easily accessible by foot. (The much higher 1,119-foot Honokohau Falls can only be seen by helicopter.) Waimoku Falls is best viewed at a distance, because there has been a lot of rockfall which has tumbled over the falls. This is evident by looking around the area and seeing all of the massive boulders sitting on the ground. It would definitely be hazardous to ignore the warning signs and try to hike up to the base of the waterfall. In summary, the Pipiwai Trail is well worth the time and effort that is required to reach the area. The only drawback is that the hike is fairly popular, so you will likely be hiking with crowds of other people. We did this as a family hike. It was our young 3-year-old son Stefan's first full hike. He did very well. In fact, we had to constantly tell him to slow down and wait for us, and stay away from the cliff edges. We also kept close hold of him while crossing the bridges. Some of the boardwalks through the Bamboo forest were a bit slippery, so we helped him along those spots as well. In the end, he tired out a bit, so I carried him back half the way. Our hike took place on May 1, 2016.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
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