Pipiwai Trail in the Haleakala National Park and is about 12 miles past the small town of Hana. This 4 mile or 6.5 klm (round trip) walking trail winds its way up through several very distinct landscapes. It includes several spectacular waterfalls and bridge crossings. The trail gains approximately 900 ft. in elevation and ends at the base of the stunning Waimoku Falls. The falls have a sheer 400 ft. drop and is a fitting reward for all those that complete the trek.
From the trailhead out of the carpark you quickly gain elevation. The temperature and humidity will also climb making you glad you heeded the good advice and have taken plenty of water. You are soon rewarded with a view of the Makahiku Falls a 180 ft. waterfall dropping away and out of sight to the bottom of the ravine far below.
The trail then takes you past and under a massive Banyan tree which stands like the old man of the Forrest silently guarding and challenging all those that pass. A series of bridges then switch the trail back and forth across the stream offering glimpses of smaller waterfalls and cascading connecting sculptured rocks pools.
Continuing on you are soon engulfed by the Bamboo Forest, here towering poles of bamboo are so closely packed that the light barely reaches the ground. The wind blowing above the forest produces most amazing sound when thousands of poles clunk together in an almost orchestrated symphony which seems to approach and retreat from you in waves of sound.
As you climb further you soon leave behind the bamboo and enter the true rainforest section, the air here becomes humid and dense and everything is permanently wet. The moss and ferns grow prolifically everywhere between small creeks that intersect the trail. The boardwalk here is permanently wet and slick, so good footwear is essential. This however didn’t stop many who thought flip flops were adequate footwear and would no doubt be regretting their decision by the end of the day.
The trail has one final challenge at the end where you need to cross the stream to get to the base of the waterfall, with slippy rocks there is no easy way to do this except carefully and slowly. You will get wet feet, bear this in mind and take your time remember it’s a long way back to medical help. I would only recommend the crossing be attempted if the weather is good as this area has some of the highest rainfall on the planet which can result in flash flooding.
As you go pass the sign saying ‘Do Not Enter’ like everyone else, be mindful a small rock peeling off the top and falling 400 ft can put a large dent in a human skull. All the warnings aside it is an amazing end to a wonderful hike. By the time you are back down and in the carpark I guarantee your quad muscles will be shaking and there will be a tired but happy satisfied smile on your face.
You can find more information on the Haleakalā National Park on our post “Sunset above the Clouds on a Volcano – Haleakala”