Maui volcano hike

The 6 Best Hikes in Maui

Whether you’re planning a trip to Hawaii or simply want to daydream about the best hikes in Maui, this list should get you started.

If you’re outdoorsy or an adventure fiend, Maui offers an amazing diversity of landscapes from rainforests to beaches for you to explore. These recommended hikes on Hawaii’s second-largest island include a variety of terrain and difficulty, not to mention their breathtaking views.

The driving distance included is from the main town of Kahului, the biggest town where most tourists stay. So pack your bags and get ready for the best hikes in Maui.

Pipiwai Trail, Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park

Pipiwai Trail, Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park
Pipiwai Trail; photo Credit: versello via Flickr

This must-see trail is about a 2-hour drive away from Kahului. It’s recommended on nearly every Maui hiking guide — and for good reason! On this hike, you will encounter grandiose waterfalls, a majestic Banyan tree, and the tranquility of a magical bamboo forest.

Not long after you begin your hike, you will come to the first waterfall, 200-foot Makahiku Falls. You then pass through the bamboo forest, which many visitors have described as a spiritual walk. The grand finale of your hike is the 400-foot cascade of Waimoku Falls.

Parking is only $10 at the Haleakala National Park visitor center. The Pipiwai Trail is an extremely well-maintained trail, with boardwalk bridges courtesy of the National Park Service. But that’s not to say you won’t have to hop a stream or two with the possibility of getting your feet wet. While on this hike, do not stand under the falls — make sure you take in the view at a safe distance.

  • To get there from Kahului: 2-hour drive, 12 miles past the town of Hana on the Hana Highway
  • Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 600 feet

Twin Falls, North Shore Maui

Twin Falls, North Shore Maui
Photo credit: Rina Miele via Unsplash

This short, one-mile hike is great for the entire family. Twin Falls takes its name from its famous double cascade, and the falls offer great opportunities for swimming for the family and cliff jumping for the adrenaline junkies. The parking lot sits right off of mile marker 2 on Hana Highway. If you have set out on the Road to Hana, this should be your first stop.

There is also a farm stand at the trailhead with fresh pineapples and other snacks to take with you or enjoy post-hike. The trail can get a little muddy, especially after rain, so watch your step. Due to its location at the start of Hana Highway, this trail does get pretty crowded. But it’s still worth the stop for the amazing views, a quick dip, and a great photo opportunity.

  • To get there from Kahului: 30-minute drive, mile marker 2 on Hana Highway
  • Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 115 feet

Sliding Sands Trail, Haleakala National Park

Sliding Sands Trail, Haleakala National Park
Haleakala Crater, Haleakala National Park; photo credit: Andy Simonds via Flickr

Advanced hikers looking for a challenge: This one is for you. From the trailhead, where you begin at an elevation of around 10,000 feet, the hike starts with a descent through the varying colorful layers of the eroded volcanic crater.

You will be in awe of your surroundings as well as the stunning panoramic views glimpsed from above the clouds. But don’t forget, you have to climb back up! The descent is deceiving, so make sure you have the energy for the considerable 2,400 feet of elevation gain on the 4-mile hike back out of the crater.

Plan a full day for this hike. You can park at the Haleakala visitor center, and many people recommend watching the breathtaking sunrise at the summit before beginning your journey. However, to watch the sunrise, the park requires reservations due to popularity. You can book a reservation up to 2 months in advance or buy tickets 2 days in advance.

As this is one of the more challenging trails in Maui, you will need to be well-rested for a long day ahead. Make sure you have proper gear and clothing and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. On a sunny day, the UV rays are intense, and you’re in a crater — there is no shade. And the trailhead does have bathrooms but no water.

One more thing to add: It’s illegal to take rocks or minerals from the park because it’s a sacred area for Native Hawaiians, so think twice before you pick up a rock as a souvenir. Plan ahead and stay safe on this one!

  • To get there from Kahului: 50-minute drive to the Haleakala visitor center
  • Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Extremely difficult
  • Elevation gain: 2,400 feet (remember to take into account that you’re starting at 10,000 feet)

King’s Trail, Wai’anapanapa State Park

King's Trail, Wai’anapanapa State Park
Black Sand Beach, Wai’anapanapa State Park; photo credit: dronepicr via Flickr

Wai’anapanapa State Park can only be accessed from Hana Highway. So if you’re making your journey down the Road to Hana, this park is a must-see. With a black sand beach and an energetic blowhole, this park has some of the island’s best hidden natural beauties.

There are two hikes you can choose from, both of which are on King’s Trail. If you head east toward Hana, you can see a Hawaiian cemetery and the infamous blowhole. Or head north toward the Hana Airport, also called the Kipapa o Kihapi’ilani Trail, to hike through black rock coves, around lava tube ruins, and past the Kapukaulua burial site. This trail is somewhat harder than the first, so wear proper hiking shoes on the black lava.

The park has picnic tables and restrooms, making it a great place for a pit stop for a hike and a bite to eat. Beware of the surf, as the water at this beach can be rougher than the average beach in Maui. The black lava and rocks, along with the black sand beach, attract a lot of heat, so make sure you bring plenty of water on your hike. There’s little shade along the trail.

  • To get there from Kahului: 2-hour drive, mile marker 32 on Hana Highway
  • Distance: 2-5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 147 feet

Lahaina Pali Trail, West/Central Maui

Lahaina Pali Trail, West/Central Maui
Lahaina Pali Trail Windmills; photo credit: Kahunapule Michael Johnson via Flickr

Only a 20-minute drive from Kahului, this easily accessible hike has great panoramic views of the Maui windmills, coastline, and neighboring islands. If you visit during whale season, which is December through March, you might catch a glimpse of the humpback whales of Ma’alea Bay. This hike can be somewhat strenuous, and you will need to make a couple of decisions depending on how far you want to go.

For the go-getters, the first option would be to do the whole 10-mile, out-and-back hike. If you want to cut the mileage in half, you can bring two cars and drop one off at the opposite trailhead. Or you can simply hike out and back for as long as you’d like from either trailhead.

You have the option of starting from either side of the trail: the Maalaea side or the Ukumehame side. If you’re in it for the scenery, head for the Maalaea side, where you’ll get spectacular views of the coastline and the central isthmus. There is also a dedicated parking area.

The Ukumehame side is where you can do some whale watching. This hike will be rocky and extremely windy, so make sure you’re prepared with the right attire.

  • To get there from Kahului: 18-minute drive, Honoapiilani Highway by the intersection with North Kihei Road
  • Distance: 4-10 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 1,600-3,200 feet

Waihee Ridge Trail, West Maui Forest Reserve

Waihee Ridge Trail, West Maui Forest Reserve
Waihee Valley; photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Treat yourself to views of 5,000-foot mountains, rainforest valleys, and Makamakaole Falls on a clear day. This trail is flooded with sensory information. Enjoy the views while listening to the sounds of the birds of the Waihee Valley. You can relax at the picnic table at the top where you can grab a quick bite to eat and enjoy the view above the clouds. Also, this site is a favorite spot for proposals, so be prepared to be a part of someone’s magical moment!

This trail is moderately taxing, with some steep inclines, and is not recommended for novice hikers. Definitely equip yourself with sunscreen (as usual), mosquito repellent, proper hiking boots and attire, and, of course, plenty of water.

One tip about parking — the parking lot sits across from Mendes Ranch but is not the lot at the start of the road. Continue farther up the road until you hit the second lot, which is the actual trailhead parking area.

  • To get there from Kahului: 22-minute drive, mile marker 6.9 on Kahekili Highway
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 1,500 feet
Rhea Jha
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Rhea lives for the adrenaline rush and will likely be down to do anything from hiking to sky diving. She especially enjoys board sports like surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. In her downtime, you can find her enjoying a cheese board, petting her dog, or probably watching Chopped. Rhea is currently pursuing a B.A. in Journalism and History at Penn State University.

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