Follow the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls

If your time and fitness level permits when you’re exploring Maui’s famous road to Hana, I recommend hiking the Pipiwai Trail. This four-mile round-trip hike leads you past streams and a bamboo forest to the base of a towering waterfall.

Just to give you an idea of what the trail is like, I want to show you some scenes from the trail. As you can see from the following photo, the terrain can be very uneven and even muddy with rain. You should definitely wear footwear that’s designed for hiking.

Roots on the pipiwai trail

About a half mile into the trail, you’ll see a large banyan tree.

Banyan Tree on Pipiwai Trail

Further along, you’ll cross a bridge that takes you into a thick bamboo forest.

Crossing to the bamboo forest

You’ll be thankful for the smooth, clean boardwalk through the bamboo forest.

bamboo forest of pipiwai trail

Then, finally, your two-mile effort rewards you with a view of the 400 foot (or more) Waimoku Falls.

Waimoku Falls

Waimoku waterfall is so tall, that it’s hard for photos to do it justice. I took this 18-second video of it to help give you a better idea of how impressive it is.

(Email subscribers: click here to watch the Waimoku Falls video.)

Here’s what to know before you go:

  • You pick up the trail head from the parking lot at the Kipahulu region of Haleakala National Park. A parking fee of $25 per car is required. If you have or will be visiting the summit of Haleakala Park, keep your permit. It’s valid for three days at both summit and coastal sections Haleakala National Park.
  • Before beginning the trail, look up towards the mountain. If you see rain or heavy clouds, stop into the visitors center at the bottom of the parking lot and ask if they advise hiking to Waimoku Falls.
  • Do not attempt to cross flooded streams. (I’ll write more about this later, but it is shocking how quickly streams can flood and become dangerous.)
  • Obey the signs at the base of the waterfall and do not get too close.
  • Do NOT attempt to swim at Waimoku Falls.
  • Plan between 2 to 2.5 hours to hike this 4-mile, round-trip to hike on the Pipiwai Trail
  • Do yourself a favor and wear proper hiking footwear that you won’t mind getting muddy or wet. Though there are bridges over most streams, you will have to cross in a stream to get to the Waimoku Falls view.
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Bring water.
  • Bring/wear mosquito repellant.

See other photos from our hike on the Pipiwai Trail.

Have you hiked the Pipiwai Trail? How was your experience?

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

6 comments

  1. Cool! Looks really neat! Great tips as well. Is the parking lot monitored?

  2. Thanks, Janet.

    Good question — I wish I could say yes, but I don’t believe that’s the case. There are two or three parking levels, if I remember correctly. The lowest parking level is near the ranger’s visitor station and by default is somewhat “monitored”.

    The day I took a guided tour of the road to Hana (more to come on that), the tour guide said it was ok to leave valuables in the car in that parking lot, but I decided to bring my stuff with me anyway.

  3. what fitness level is needed? I dont walk a lot. but wow the views are amazing. the other thing was it looks pretty remote. is it safe out there.

    • diana – you don’t need to be super fit. The trail is mostly uphill to the falls and downhill on the way back. The first half mile is probably the steepest, then the gradient levels off a bit.

      It is remote, but it’s in a National Park. I’ve felt very safe walking it. It’s a fairly popular trail, so you won’t be the only one on it.

  4. I second that! I solo hiked that trail and had the time of my life. I met so many lovely people out on the trail. The Seven Sacred Pools were closed due to flash flood; not somewhere you want to be in a flash flood. The water was brown and bloated, unlike all of the graceful pictures I’d seen. I was a little disappointed, but managed to have my own fun little adventure.

    Hiking across the boardwalk that winds through the forest was incredible. After a short creek crossing, the water fall comes into view. Just gorgeous. I spend the afternoon playing in the creek and enjoying the view.

    be sure to bring a water bottle. It can get very hot out there and there is a bit of a climb up the first hill. Overall, fantastic experience.

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