Waihee Ridge Hiking Trail
West Maui Mountains
Have you ever wanted to stand at the top of a mountain in utter silence and commune with the clouds? That is exactly what you'll be able to do on the Waihee Ridge Trail.
Located in the West Maui Mountains, also known as Mauna Kahalawai, the 5-mile round-trip trail ascends 1,500 ft. through a lush forest of kukui, guava, ohia, and ferns. Birdwatchers will also want to keep an eye out for the apapane, Hawaii amakihi, and maybe even an iiwi. Although they are very rare in West Maui, they have been spotted along the Waihee Trail. As you make your way up towards the clouds, you'll notice the views of the sea and sky will soon seemingly meld into one. This hike is known as one of the most scenic treks on Maui- a reputation that is much deserved.
The earlier you start the trail the better chance you'll have of viewing the Waihee Valley without clouds. When you arrive at the trailhead it may not seem like much of a trail. You have to pass through a cattle-proof gate and up a 200-ft. cement road that is far steeper than it looks. Nonetheless, the initial incline will have you almost hating this trail before it even begins; but KEEP going- it's about to get really good! At the top of the incline, catch your breath and take your first peek over at Makamakaole Falls on your right. At the trail sign, you'll veer to your left into a pasture and soon enter the forest.
Just after three-quarters of a mile, you'll again be treated to a better view of Makamakaole Falls. There are a few other falls to see on the trail but most of them are far away and buried in the green-draped valleys of the West Maui Mountains. After about a mile you'll really start to be rewarded with amazing views of the valley. The trail goes in cycles of flat and steep areas, culminating in a series of switchbacks that lead to the end, a hill called Lani-ili. At 2,563 ft. you may be rewarded with a clear view of the valley or treated to a sea of clouds. Either way, this is certainly a priceless experience.
There is a picnic table at the trail's end if you would like to eat a snack or have lunch and enjoy the scenery. To reach the trailhead, take Hwy. 32 west out of Kahului until you reach Hwy. 330- about three miles. Turn right on Hwy. 330 and continue until it becomes Hwy. 340 at mile marker 2. At 9/10 mile past mile marker 6, you'll see the Maluhia Boy Scout Camp on the left. Turn left onto this road and go about 1 mile uphill until you reach a small parking area.
Waihee Ridge Trail is straightforward, well marked, and provides nice intervals of steep inclines and areas of flat terrain; making it a relatively moderate hike.