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Waimoku Falls Trail (Pipiwai Trail)

(November 1998)

(about 2 miles one way, about 900 feet ascent, round trip about 2 hours)

Waimoku Falls Trail and Ohe'o Gulch are separated only by the street, and so you will visit them together. A look into Ohe'o Gulch is a stroll of 30 minutes on a paved way, while a hike to Waimoku Falls and back including a break took us more than two hours. So if you want to do the hike, you will need to spend about three hours in the area. We made the whole tour from Ka'anapali in one day, but we had to drive back in the darkness then.

This area is part of the Haleakala National Park and is called Kipahulu Valley. The part uphill beyond Waimoku Falls is closed to entry for reasons of environment protection. There is a trail up to Haleakala, but it starts miles away in Kaupo, and it is outside the National Park on private property for the first few miles.

East Maui is the rainy part of Maui, and so it rained, when we arrived at the parking lot. We walked to the Ranger Station (Kipahulu Visitor Center) and then to Ohe'o Gulch (see the separate page for Ohe'o Gulch in the index).

Half an hour later we were back at the street, crossed it and went to the trailhead at Road 31.

We hiked across a meadow and entered the rainforest. The path was easy, but muddy. We stepped over tree roots. There were Kukui trees, a Banyan tree of considerable size and lots of Guave fruits on the ground.

After hiking about a a mile until could see Makahiku Falls from a viewpoint at the trail. A path along an old irrigation ditch leads to the top of the falls, but we continued on the main trail.

We followed the river and reached the first of two massive bridges across the Pipiwai Stream.

At the other side we entered a bamboo forest.

From a viewpoint in the forest we had a beautiful view on the Palikea Stream and the second bridge. In former years, there were no bridges, and one had to cross the Palikea Stream. That would probably have been impossible today.

We stepped into another bamboo forest that was so dense that light could only enter from straight above. Boardwalks helped to get over the muddy parts, and so it was easy to walk.

Waimoku Falls came into sight now.

But before reaching the falls, we had to cross two more little streams. I assume that you sometimes can jump from one stone to the next, but today, we saw that we would get wet feet.

After a short break at the falls it started to rain. We managed to get back to the dense bamboo forest before a tropical shower came down. We were wet, anyway. It was warm, and we went back downhill to the car, where we changed clothes, before we returned to Hana.

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