Maui is one of the best Hawaiian islands to go for a hike due its contrasting scenery on nearly every part of the island. From bamboo forests to lush mountains to desert landscape to waterfall paradises to volcanic rock trails, you’ll be in hiking heaven (or Mars). After visiting Maui several times and hiking as many trails as we could there, here is our guide on the Top 5 Hikes on Maui.
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#1 Top Hike on Maui: Pipiwai Trail
Pipiwai Trail, Haleakala National Park, 4.0 Miles round trip, 650 feet of elevation gain, out & back
This hike on the Pipiwai Trail was our furthest away stop on the Road to Hana and well worth the drive. It is actually located after Hana so make sure to continue on to reach this trail in the east part of Haleakala National Park.
Unique Rainforest and Bamboo Forest Flora
This hike is super neat because you first hike through the rainforest and then through a bamboo forest before coming to the impressively tall Waimoku waterfall. On the hike, you will also see a huge Banyan Tree. The contrasting views keep your interest throughout and the effort is well worth the 4 mile round-trip hike. We would rate this hike as relatively easy as the elevation gain is well spread out.
We recommend arriving at this trailhead early. When we arrived around 8am, we were one of three cars, but by the time we left after completing the hike, the parking lot was completely full and cars were parking in an overflow lot.
Bonus: Hike Oheo Gulch
You can also hike the shorter Oheo Gulch/Seven Sacred Pools trail here that is 0.6 miles roundtrip with minimal elevation change. The trailhead is at the same spot as the Pipiwai Trail. This trail will take you past the coastline, past a waterfall and through some pretty local flora. We completed this hike after the Pipiwai trail and found it to be very easy and scenic.
Cost: $30/car (valid 3 days throughout entire park) or free with America the Beautiful Pass (pays for itself if you plan to visit more than 2 National Parks in one year)
See our Haleakala National Park Quick Guide for other tips on what to do there, including seeing the west side of the park (the other side of the island).
#2 Top Hike Maui: Waihee Ridge
Waihee Ridge Trail, Wailuku, 4.2 Miles round trip, 1500 feet of elevation gain, out & back hike
The Waihee Ridge Trail affords some amazing lush mountainous valley views. Although steep, this hike is doable with a reasonable level of fitness, even if babywearing. Our daughter loved taking in the vast views on this hike as well as walking around at the flat summit. Further, this hike is a tranquil forest escape from the crowds of Maui beachgoers.
Astounding Mountain Views
On the Waihee Ridge trail, there is also a nice platform with some great views (arguably our favorite views on the trail) about 1 mile into the hike. If you do not want to hike the whole Waihee Ridge trail, hiking just to this spot would offer very rewarding views for less effort.
Have Sun Protection
While hiking this trail, be mindful to have good sun protection as most of the hike has significant sun exposure. The first half of the outbound hike is less rocky and a bit less steep with some sun cover. The second half of the outbound hike is steeper, a bit more rocky and with virtually no sun protection
Arrive Early to Avoid Longer Hike, Crowds & Intense Sun
If you arrive at the Waihee Ridge trail after 9 AM, you will likely need to park in overflow parking that adds almost a mile each way of walking on the paved inclined road that leads to the main parking lot. The trailhead is gated and open 7 AM – 7 PM daily. We would highly recommend arriving earlier than 9 AM to avoid crowds, direct/more intense sun and needing to park further away.
Other Miscellaneous Waihee Ridge Tips
Try to go on a clear day to avoid the mountains being covered in clouds. Also, if it is raining or recently rained, the trail may be very slippery. Moreover, do not leave any belongings you can see in the car as break-ins have been reported here. Bring everything with you or store any belongings in a covered trunk to reduce the break-in chance.
#3 Top Hike Maui: Twin Falls
1.8 Mile round trip (without offshoots to each waterfall), 347 feet of elevation gain, out & back
Twin Falls is a fun and short hike. It takes you to three different waterfalls through the rainforest. The first two waterfalls you encounter on this hike look similar and are a very short hike, about 0.2 miles, from the parking lot. The third waterfall is a bit further of a hike from those two but, in our opinion, was the most scenic of the three. Be sure not to stop hiking after the first two waterfalls. You can also go swimming at this third waterfall.
We took our time with this hike, hiking down to each waterfall and exploring around them, and it took us about 1.5 hours total. The hike was relaxing, as it was relatively easy, and you saw a lot in a short period. The trail, especially down by the waterfalls, was very slippery, as it had just rained when we visited so make sure to wear good hiking shoes.
This hike is another stop on the Road to Hana, at the very beginning near MM 2. We actually hiked this trail a different day than when we drove the Road to Hana as it was only about 10 minutes from our Airbnb. We are glad we did it this way as we did not feel rushed hiking it at all then as the Road to Hana is already a very full day experience.
Twin Falls Tip: Arrive Early to Avoid Crowds
We almost did not hike this trail due to reviews we read saying it was too busy. However, we saw less than 10 total other people when we hiked this trail at around 7am. We honestly felt like we had most of this trail to ourselves. We likely would not have enjoyed this hike as much later in the day when it is more crowded.
#4 Top Hike Maui: Sliding Sands
Sliding Sand Trail, Haleakala National Park, 11.5 miles (do not have to hike entire trail), 2873 feet of elevation gain, out & back
The Sliding Sands trail is over 11 miles long but you really do not need to hike all of that to get some amazing crater views. Even hiking a mile or less each way will afford you stunning Mars-like crater views. Beware that this is a steep hike at elevation though and you need to be prepared to hike back up the steep crater. Therefore, be mindful of your fitness level while descending into the crater as that is much easier than ascending up it.
Cost: $30/car (valid 3 days throughout the entire park) or free with America the Beautiful Pass
See our Haleakala National Park Quick Guide for other tips on what to do there, including seeing the east side of the park (the other side of the island).
#5 Top Hike Maui: Nakalele Blowhole
Nakalele Blowhole Trail, Poelua Bay, 0.9 miles round trip, 250 feet of elevation, out & back
This rugged coastal hike to get to the Nakalele Blowhole is short but involves a lot of unsteady footing and descending down (then back up) the lava rock. Watching the blowhole from up close is pretty neat and makes this hike different from all the other hikes on this list. Be sure to have sturdy shoes for this hike with the easy but consistent scrambling on the rocks. Though there are traveled paths here, there is no set trail to follow.
Bonus Top Maui Hike: Kapalua Trail
Kapalua Coastal Trail, Kapalua, 3.0 miles round trip, 300 feet of elevation gain, out & back
This coastal trail takes you along sand dunes and lava rock. It is very pretty and relatively easy. It makes for a nice morning stroll. Try to walk this trail early in the day as it is completely exposed to the sun. To access this trail, park at the public beach access lot.
We hope this guide helps you plan your hiking on your trip to Maui. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions.
For more tips on Hawaii travel, see other Hawaii guides including:
- Maui with a Baby or Toddler
- Top 3 Maui Snorkeling Spots
- Visiting Maui, Hawaii on a Budget
- 5 Stops on the Road to Hana
- Haleakala National Park Quick Guide
- Visiting Big Island, Hawaii on a Budget
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quick Guide
- Oahu, Hawaii Quick Guide
- Kauai, Hawaii Quick Guide
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