Best Maui Hikes: Waihee Ridge Trail


Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 — 1:34pm PST
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My plan was to get out on the water, my sister’s was to do a hike. We booked a girls getaway to Maui in October with the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association (“KBRA”) and while we already had an outrigger canoe tour with Maui Paddlesports on our itinerary, my sister needed to find her perfect hike to check off her Maui bucket list.

We Googled, checked TripAdvisor and some blogs, then we asked a local – our contact at the Hyatt Regency Maui. She confirmed that one of our top picks, the Waihee Ridge Trail, would be just what my sister — who loves the Grouse Grind, Coquitlam Crunch, St Mark’s Summit, Jug Island, and more — was looking for in a hike.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

Waihee Ridge Trail

Basic Info: It’s a 5-mile round trip trail (8km) that ascends 1,500 ft (457m) through a lush forest with views of Maui’s north coast and distant West Maui Forest Reserve waterfalls. It’s quite the climb, but living in Metro Vancouver we always know that the toughest climbs usually have the best, most rewarding views — and the same goes for Maui.

Located in the West Maui Mountains, also known as Mauna Kahalawai, you’ll start the hike from the parking lot by going up a 200ft cement road next to pasture with grazing cattle. On the way up you might already start to regret your decision – it’s steep! But, once you catch your breath at the top the real hike begins. The trail heads into a lush forest of kukui, aromatic guava, ohia, and ferns. There are a few lookout points from the forest section, which cycles between flat and steep areas, before you get out onto the ridge’s series of dusty and muddy switchbacks.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

At every lookout point I’d spot the trail and the top of the clouds, thinking to myself: “Ok, that’s the peak, I just have to push on to that point.” And every time we reached the point I thought was the peak, the clouds would part and the ascending trail would reveal itself again along with what I would again determine is the peak. It was fun to chase the clouds and keep reaching for the top, the views were just so stunning.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

As I huffed and puffed, and my sister patiently waited for me during “photo breaks” that allowed me to catch my breath. There were some locals that you could tell did this trail often, it was their Grouse Grind. There were also a few very happy pups that accompanied their adventurous families along the route.

After stairs and even more switchbacks, we reached the peak and were surrounded by clouds. We had a snack at the picnic table and soon enough the fog parted and revealed the final view to us: 360 degrees of forest, mountain, and Maui shorelines. It was stunning.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

Well-hydrated and fed, with all the photos and selfies we needed, we headed back down the ridge. It was a wonderfully challenging hike that I was really glad we got to experience.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

Tips for the Waihee Ridge Trail

No reservations or passes necessary however I would recommend getting there earlier in the day since we were told the clouds we saw usually roll in later in the day (we were at the peak around 12:00pm). There’s also an overflow parking lot by the main road which is quite a ways from the trailhead, so arrive early to also ensure you won’t have to do that extra jaunt.

Make sure to wear layers as the climate can change very quickly from bright sunshine to fast-moving clouds bringing fog and rain over the ridge. Sturdy footwear is essential as you’ll walk on pavement, leafy mulch in the trees, wet pebbles in ridge valleys, dusty dirt paths, and muddy switchbacks.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail on Maui

Bring lots of water for the route and perhaps a picnic for the peak to refuel. I would have also brought hiking sticks to help navigate the steep switchbacks on the way back down. We were VERY happy to have brought a change of shoes for the ride home since ours were caked in red mud and would have made a mess of our rental car.

To plan your next vacation to Maui, touch base with the KBRA. They have so many resources, properties, and activities that there’s bound to be a perfect fit for you too. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Disclosure: The KBRA graciously hosted Miss604 on this getaway. Views and opinions are my own.

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