Travel

The Most Breathtaking Hiking Trails in Maui

Published On 06/14/2016 Published On 06/14/2016

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, and with a nickname like the Valley Isle, it's no surprise that there’s plenty of natural beauty to discover here. So stretch your legs and take them adventuring across Maui’s beautiful topography, where you can find a wide range of stunningly beautiful hiking trails. Whether you're looking for coastal hikes or daylong escapades traversing Haleakala, Maui offers a wide variety of trails to wander and explore the island. We narrowed down our favorite trails for those days when we feel like escaping city life and becoming one with Mother Nature. Be warned that there's little cell service at some of these -- but that's why the #latergram was invented.

Flickr/Mark Doliner

Ohe‘o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and Pipiwai Trail

This popular 3.6-mile hiking trail is like something out of an enchanted fairytale. Start at Ohe‘o Gulch, where multiple pools and waterfalls flow, pass a soaring banyan tree, then meander through the rainforest, towering bamboo, ginger fields, and smaller falls, until you find the jaw-dropping, neck-craning 400ft Waimoku Falls. End your storybook hike with a dip in Ohe‘o Gulch... and take turns posing for all the glorious waterfall photos your heart desires.

Flickr/Thomas

Twin Falls

Sure, this waterfall hike may swell with tourists, but for a good reason. Located near mile marker No. 2 along the Road to Hana, it’s the first trail on the path with waterfalls and a pool. The path is open to the public, well-maintained, and easily accessible -- and it’s a super-quick stop for those looking for some instant gratification. The rocks can be slippery, though, so pack covered shoes. After a dip under a pair of waterfalls, hit up the Twin Falls Farm Stand on your way back to the car, and replenish with fresh fruit, fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice, or coconut water straight from the source.

Flickr/Forest and Kim Starr

Sliding Sands Trail and Halamau‘u Trail

Not for the faint of heart, this extreme 12-mile trail traverses the Haleakala summit, where the air is cooler and thinner, with ever-changing weather. Be prepared for fog and rain, with no shade cover. The hike starts at the Haleakala Visitor Center at 9,740ft and descends to the crater floor. Due to the challenging and strenuous terrain, the trail is quiet, desolate, and empty, but rewards with hauntingly beautiful views of multi-colored sand dunes, craggy cliffs, silverswords, and cinder mounds. Apollo astronauts have trained on this barren field to mimic lunar landings, so take the opportunity to feel a little bit like you're at space camp. Shorter trips are also an option, but adventurous and advanced trailblazers should attempt this daylong journey, at least once -- just be sure to plan well for multiple climates and shifting elements.

Flickr/Cassi Gurell

Waihee Ridge Trail

This moderate, five-mile West Maui hike will lead you nearly 2,600ft above sea level and compensate your efforts with panoramic views of Waihee Valley, Makamaka‘ole Falls, Haleakala, the West Maui Mountains, and the ocean. The trail will take you along a series of switchbacks, transitioning between green forests and sunny ridgelines until you reach Lani-ili summit, where you'll be greeted with panoramic vistas or a sky full of clouds. For your best chance of clear views, lace up your hiking shoes in the morning -- before the mist blocks the horizon. But come fog or shine, the lush views are worth the aerobic exercise.

Flickr/Envios

Kapalua Coastal Trail

Stretched between prime coastline and expensive resorts, this easy coastline pathway is more of a nature walk than a hike-hike (you know, in the wilderness), if we’re being totally honest. But the spectacular scenery is worth the short outdoor adventure: start at Kapalua Beach and follow the path to Namalu Bay and Oneloa Bay until you arrive at D.T. Fleming Beach, then get an eyeful of rock cliffs, tide pools, and sea turtles along some of the island’s prettiest beaches. Don’t forget to pause at a grassy, man-made labyrinth, as well as Dragon’s Teeth, a natural rocky formation that was shaped when hot lava pushing towards the ocean was hardened by wind and waves to create jagged-looking "teeth," that point towards the sky.

Flickr/Keppet

Lahaina Pali Trail

This 5.5-mile one-way trail from Maalaea to Ukumehame is dry and rugged and zigzaging at about 1,500ft, making the rocky path a bit slow and strenuous. The old horse-and-foot trail was hand-built in 1800s, with rock walls and stone shelters still visible along the way. The path will lead you near the Kaheawa Wind Farm and repay your quad and hamstring workout with views of neighboring Lanai and Kahoolawe, and views of breaching whales during the winter months. Unless you’re planning on doing the full round-trip voyage, hiking this trail may take some planning and a couple of cars. Pro tip: don’t forget the sunscreen.

Flickr/Photonomus

Nakalele Blowhole

Tucked along Honoapiilani Highway along mile marker 38.5 is a short coastal walk leading to a pair of natural wonders. The first, known as the Nakalele Blowhole, connects to an underwater ocean cave, and during high tide, the swell spouts a jet of water high into the air. The second is just next to it: a lava rock wall with a heart-shaped hole punched through by the sea, which will only remain a heart-shaped hole as long as the ocean decides it will -- so see it before it's gone. The trail is short, but you’ll need to scale a rocky cliff-side for the best views. Definitely follow the advice of the hand-painted signs along the trail and stick to walking on dry rocks. Getting too close to the blowhole can be dangerous, as Mother Nature can sometimes be unpredictably strong and violent.

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Summer Nakaishi is a freelance writer for Thrillist, who forgets about reapplying sunscreen and is far too often surprised to be the recipient of a terrible ombre tank top tan.

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