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
- Distance: 5.8
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The Pipiwai Trail begins near the halau (long house).
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Cross the Hana Highway, then hike north.
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The trail passes the remains of flume pylons used by sugar cane farmers for transporting sugar cane across Pipiwai Gorge.
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Stop at this overlook for views of Makahiku Falls and Pipiwai Gorge.
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Pass the spur that leads to the top of Makahiku Falls (closed due to dangerous conditions).
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Walk past the livestock control gate.
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Pass beneath the limbs of a giant banyan tree.
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Short side spur to pool overlook.
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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.
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An old sugar mill dam remains in the nearby stream.
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Bear left at trail fork.
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Cross the first of two bridges over the confluence of Palikea and Pipiwai Streams.
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Cross the second bridge.
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Enter bamboo forest. The route links trails and boardwalks through a 40-foot-tall bamboo forest.
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The trail ends at the base of 400-foot Waimoku Falls, which pours down mossy cliffs. Backtrack to the trailhead.
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Take heed of the warning signs if stormy weather presents.
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Old flume pylons used by cane farmers for transporting sugar cane across Pipiwai Gorge.
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Stop for a big view of Pipiwai Gorge and Makahiku Falls.
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Pass under the wide limbs of a giant banyan tree.
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Rangers call this the “Pool of No Return” for the difficulty adventurous swimmers have trying to get out.
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Two bridges cross chutes and pools where the Pipiwai and Palikea Streams converge.
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Walk trails and boardwalks through a 40′ tall bamboo forest.
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Use caution approaching the falls for falling rocks.
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The view of 400-foot Waimoku Falls.