Haleakala National Park, HI: Pipiwai Trail

This 3.6-mile route in Haleakala National Park leads through bamboo forests to a 400-foot spring-fed waterfall in a sheer-walled lava amphitheater.
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This 3.6-mile route in Haleakala National Park leads through bamboo forests to a 400-foot spring-fed waterfall in a sheer-walled lava amphitheater.

Arguably one of the best hiking trails on Maui, the Pipiwai Trail is often overlooked by hikers who make a beeline for Wai'anapanapa State Park or Ohe'o Gulch ("Seven Sacred Pools"). Add this 3.6-mile trail to your to-do list for a picturesque ramble to a 400-foot waterfall. The trail starts at the north end of the visitor center parking area near the halau (long house) and climbs steadily up the ridge alongside Palikea Stream. The first viewpoint opens up beside an old concrete pylon, once used by farmers for getting sugar cane across the gorge.
Less than a quarter mile later, a rock-walled overlook offers sweeping views across the gorge and of Makahiku Falls. From the overlook, the trail dives back into forest, then passes a now-closed spur trail. (Some guidebooks show this spur leading to a pool at the top of Makahiku Falls, but the NPS has since closed off this route due to several fatalities.)
After 0.6 mile, the trail passes beneath the sprawling branches of an sprawling banyan tree, then shortly beyond, a spur trail breaks off to the right and descends to a viewpoint over a waterfall spilling into the "Pool of No Return," a large, deep pool that sits in a collapsed lava tube. Back on the main trail, pass the remains of an old sugar mill dam, then cross two bridges over a series of deep chutes and pools, carved into the riverbed's lava rock where the Palikea and Pipiwai Streams converge.
At mile 1.1, trek through a dense stand of 40-foot-tall bamboo trees that block out much of the sunlight, (and create a clacking sound in the breeze), then cross the creek for the final 0.1-mile stretch to Waimoku Falls, a 400-foot waterfall that drops down mossy cliffs (watch for falling rocks). Drop your pack and soak up the scene before backtracking to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.8

Waypoints

PIP001

Location: 20.662286, -156.044325

The Pipiwai Trail begins near the halau (long house).

PIP002

Location: 20.662873, -156.045119

Cross the Hana Highway, then hike north.

PIP003

Location: 20.664203, -156.046876

The trail passes the remains of flume pylons used by sugar cane farmers for transporting sugar cane across Pipiwai Gorge.

PIP004

Location: 20.665047, -156.049016

Stop at this overlook for views of Makahiku Falls and Pipiwai Gorge.

PIP005

Location: 20.665004, -156.049577

Pass the spur that leads to the top of Makahiku Falls (closed due to dangerous conditions).

PIP006

Location: 20.665128, -156.049862

Walk past the livestock control gate.

PIP007

Location: 20.665852, -156.051039

Pass beneath the limbs of a giant banyan tree.

PIP008

Location: 20.666944, -156.05128

Short side spur to pool overlook.

PIP009

Location: 20.667034, -156.050918

This viewpoint overlooks a small waterfall and an alluring swimming hole dubbed the "Pool of No Return" by rangers for the difficulty adventurous swimmers have trying to leave once they get in.

PIP010

Location: 20.667889, -156.051929

An old sugar mill dam remains in the nearby stream.

PIP011

Location: 20.66844, -156.052439

Bear left at trail fork.

PIP012

Location: 20.670166, -156.053568

Cross the first of two bridges over the confluence of Palikea and Pipiwai Streams.

PIP013

Location: 20.670357, -156.054059

Cross the second bridge.

PIP014

Location: 20.670367, -156.05423

Enter bamboo forest. The route links trails and boardwalks through a 40-foot-tall bamboo forest.

PIP015

Location: 20.67754, -156.056462

Stream crossing

PIP016

Location: 20.678402, -156.055899

The trail ends at the base of 400-foot Waimoku Falls, which pours down mossy cliffs. Backtrack to the trailhead.

Pipiwai Trailhead

Location: 20.662288, -156.044274

Warning

Location: 20.663606, -156.045041

Take heed of the warning signs if stormy weather presents.

Remains

Location: 20.664203, -156.046774

Old flume pylons used by cane farmers for transporting sugar cane across Pipiwai Gorge.

Makahiku Overlook

Location: 20.664991, -156.048796

Stop for a big view of Pipiwai Gorge and Makahiku Falls.

Banyan Tree

Location: 20.665845, -156.050953

Pass under the wide limbs of a giant banyan tree.

Pool View

Location: 20.667034, -156.050835

Rangers call this the "Pool of No Return" for the difficulty adventurous swimmers have trying to get out.

High Bridges

Location: 20.670166, -156.053474

Two bridges cross chutes and pools where the Pipiwai and Palikea Streams converge.

Bamboo Forest

Location: 20.671135, -156.055394

Walk trails and boardwalks through a 40' tall bamboo forest.

Waimoku Falls

Location: 20.678322, -156.055738

Use caution approaching the falls for falling rocks.

Waimoku Falls

Location: 20.678483, -156.055695

The view of 400-foot Waimoku Falls.