In this guide to hiking the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park, I’ll cover everything you need to know for a successful hike.
Living in Maui for the past decade has given me ample to time to hike this trail over and over again. As a huge fan and dare I say expert, I’m here to give you the inside scoop to hiking the Maui Pipiwai Trail.
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We’ll get into all the details to prepare you for a trip to the Kipahulu District of Maui’s Haleakala National Park. I’ll cover everything you need to know to hike the Maui Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park. Here’s what to expect:
When to hike the Pipiwai Trail
Pipiwai Trail location
Trail facts and information
Tips for hiking inside Haleakala National Park
What to pack for your hike
Other Things to do in the Haleakala National Park
Additional planning resources
Maui Pipiwai Trail Quick Facts
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: 2-3 hours.
- Distance: 4 miles out and back
- Dogs are NOT allowed on the trail.
How to Get to the Pipiwai Trail
The Pipiwai Trail can be found inside Haleakala National Park in the Kipahulu district. The Kipahulu district is a remote area that can only be accessed from the eastern part of the island.
To get to the Kipahulu entrance of Haleakala National Park you must first drive the jaw iconic road to Hana or the quicker way via the back side drive to Hana. The entrance to the park is 10 miles past the town of Hana.
The road to Hana is 52 miles of windy road that consists of twists, turns and one lane bridges. Driving the Hana Highway you’ll quickly realize why it’s one of Maui’s top attractions. Although the road to Hana is only 52 miles, this is an all day excursion and you can read all about the best stops on the road to Hana here.
To get the best Pipiwai Hike experience I recommend staying the night in Hana and then hike the Pipiwai Trail the next morning. I recommend this for several reasons.
First, you don’t want to drive the entire road to Hana without stopping, there’s several seascape views and road side waterfalls just asking for you to swim under them.
Second, getting an early start on the Pipiwai Trail is a easy way to avoid the crowds, especially those coming over to Hana just for the day.
And third, there’s so many more adventures to have in Hana that you won’t want to miss.
Once inside Haleakala National Park, the parking lot is on the left just after the entrance booth. From here the Pipiwai trailhead is roughly a quarter mile or less walking distance. There will be visible signs pointing you in the right direction.
When is the Best Time to Hike the Pipiwai Trail?
Since the Pipiwai Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Maui, it’s always nice to get an early start to avoid the crowds. If you took my advice and stayed the night in Hana, the drive to get to Haleakala National Park from town will take 20-30 minutes. That’s compared to at least a 3 hour drive from Paia without stopping and without traffic, which isn’t a thing, there is always traffic!
The best time to visit Haleakala National Park weather wise is all year round. Maui is a tropical paradise and the average temperature in Hana even during the winter months is 75º.
The winter months bring more rains which means that Waimoku Falls and the other waterfalls you pass along the way will be bigger and flowing more. The summer months are a bit drier so the waterfalls may be more of a trickle or not flowing at all.
Keep in mind the trail can become very muddy if it has been raining a lot recently. Although the winter is a gorgeous time to visit the park and witness the sheer power of Waimoku Falls, you may encounter an extremely muddy trail!
How Long Does it Take to Hike the Pipiwai Trail?
The Pipiwai Trail is a moderate hike that is 4 miles out and back. It takes anywhere from 2 and a half to 4 and a half hours depending on how big of a nature buff you are.
There are several places to stop and take photos. Some of my favorite captures on Maui are from this trail, including the epic banyan tree above.
Practical Trail Information
The Pipiwai Trail makes the perfect hike because of all the amazing layers and sections of the trail. The sights just keep getting better, just when you think you’ve seen the highlight of the trail, the next scene steals the show.
- Distance: 4 miles out and back
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Haleakala National Park entry fee is $30 per vehicle and valid for 3 days.
- No dogs allowed on the trail.
The trail starts a gradual climb up on a grassy, worn path that quickly turns into dirt. The dirt trail has roots and rocks sticking jutting out so it’s recommended to wear close toed shoes but it is Hawaii and you can get away with wearing slippers a.k.a. flip flops.
Just over a half mile on the trail you’ll come to an ancient banyan tree. This is a perfect spot to rest, drink some water, have a snack and take some epic pictures and videos.
Just before starting the second mile of the hike, the trail turns into a raised platform as you enter the dreamy bamboo forest. It’s everything you could want in a bamboo forest. The tall shoots tower all around and above you. It provides the ample shade especially if you’re hiking this trail in the afternoon. My favorite part is listening to the knocking of the bamboo as the breeze gently blows by.
Finally at the end of the trail is the star of the show, Waimoku Falls. Waimoku Falls is a 400 foot waterfall that cascades down the mountainside, a sight made for a post card.
Travel Tips for the Pipiwai Hike
- Waimoku in Hawaiian can mean water that cuts, severs, amputates, or breaks in two. Flash flooding and sudden rock falls can occur at any time! Proceed with caution as you approach Waimoku falls. Even a pebble falling from that high could severely hurt you or worse, could and have cause deaths in the past.
- Wear close toed shoes. The first mile of the trail is a dirt trail. If you’re hiking the Pipiwai Trail after a heavy rain it has the potential to be very muddy.
- The area is remote, fill up your take before you go as there are no gas stations near the park.
- ↑ This also means emergency medical assistance is at least one hour away.
- Don’t take the rocks, sand or cultural artifacts. Not only is it illegal but you will be cursed! Taking these objects off the islands, you will be struck with Pele’s curse which will bring you a series of bad luck and misfortune until they are returned to where they belong.
What to Pack
- Plenty of water
- Snacks (there are non available inside the park). Plus it’s always nice to come back to your vehicle with a cooler full of chilled beverages and fruit.
- Mosquito repellent
- Sunscreen –Read: The Best Reef Safe Sunscreen for your Face
- Sturdy shoes
- Check out these essentials I never hike without.
- Joby Tripod
- Rain jacket – Check out 12 Ways to Enjoy Maui in the Rain
Shop my Hiking Outfit ↓
Other Things to do in Haleakala National Park
- Oheo Gulch commonly known as Seven Sacred Pools is a tier of waterfalls that flow into pools and eventually into the ocean.
- More Hiking Trails including, Kūloa Point Trail and Kahakai Trail. Kūloa Point Trail is an easy half mile hike round trip that takes you from the visitors center to the mouth of Oheo Gulch. Kahakai Trail takes you to the drive up camping area and offers sweeping ocean views.
- Camping! If you’re into camping, this is a great place to do it. There is a water station at the visitor’s center, grills, bathrooms and picnic tables.
If you want to be the first one on the trail, this is the campground for you. Camping is limited to 3 nights and you must pay entry fee or use your park pass to enter the park.
- This is a cheap way to travel Maui. Check out the best things to do in Maui on a budget for more inspiration.