Waiheʻe Ridge Trail

Trail in West Maui Natural Area Reserve (Kahakuloa Section)

Overview

  • Directions

    Geolocation is not allowed
  • Distance

    1.89 miles

Description

Beginning at 1,000' elevation, trail climbs the windward slope of west Maui through a brushy guava thicket, a young stand of planted trees, and wet native scrub forest. Views of Waihee Gorge and Makamakaʻole Gulch can be seen along the way. On the peak, at 2,563' are panoramic views of Wailuku and central Maui, the Kahakuloa slopes, and Mount Eke. Weather at the summit varies from clear to overcast with showers. No drinking water is available along the trail. Camping is not permitted. Wear bright colored clothing. Be aware that you may encounter hunters who may be hunting off trail. Stay on trail.

Descriptions for route, history, plants and birds were provided by Stuart Ball, author of The Hikers Guide to Oahu and other hiking books

Allowed Activities
Horseback Riding
Hiking
Rifle Hunting
Allowed Access
Pedestrians
Horses

Additional Information

Activities

  • Equestrian
  • Hiking
  • Pedestrian

Amenities

  • Picnic Table

Route Description

From the parking lot walk back down the road to the trailhead and turn right around a gate onto a dirt road. Ascend steeply on the one-lane road, now paved. Just before the road ends at a water tank, bear left on the Waihe`e Ridge Trail. Enter a small gulch, filled with kukui and guava trees and go around a second gate through a stile. Pass a grove of Cook pines on the left and then work right, out of the gulch, through eucalyptus trees. As the trail switchbacks to the left, reach an overlook with a bench. To the right is a waterfall along Makamakaka`ole Stream. Cross over to the left side of Kanoa Ridge. The view is now of Waihe`e Valley and River. In the distance you can see Wailuku and Kahului towns and the slopes of Haleakala. Stroll through a lovely open stretch lined with uluhe ferns. Pass a second bench near a lone Cook pine and then go through a stile in a wire fence. Ascend steadily on a double series of short switchbacks. At the back of a small gulch the trail levels briefly and then resumes climbing. After passing a stand of paperbark trees, bear right across a flat, marshy area. To the right is a hanging gulch leading down to Makamakaka`ole Stream. Climb Lanilili hill on a series of switchbacks. Reach the flat top of Lanilili. The trail ends at a picnic table with a superb view of the West Maui Mountains, weather permitting.

Features

  • Nature Study
  • Ocean Scenery
  • Open Views
  • Scenic Viewpoint

Hazards

  • Hunting Area

Directions

From Kahekili Highway (340), turn up Maluhia Road and go 0.9 miles. A sign on a fence marks the trail head. Follow right-of-way markers through pasture before entering forest.

Dog Owners

Hunting may be in progress on or near this hiking trail. Hunting dogs may be off-leash while engaged in the hunt. Hikers must keep their dogs leashed at all times and remove dog waste while on this trail.

Simple Trail Tips

  1. Stay on the trail. 
  2. Check the weather 
  3. Watch the time 
  4. Avoid undue risk 
  5. Read all posted signs 
  6. Respect other trail users 
  7. Pack out at least what you pack in

Plants & Birds

Along the trail are well over 50 different species of native plants that prefer a wet mountain habitat. All are identified and illustrated in the pamphlet, Waihe`e Ridge Trail Native Plant Guide, available from the State Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Wailuku. After the overlook of Makamakaka`ole Stream, begin looking for native `ohi`a. When first seen along Kanoa Ridge, they are good sized trees. By the end of the hike, they have become small shrubs, stunted by the exposed conditions higher up. `Ohi`a has oval, dull green leaves and clusters of delicate red, yellow, or salmon-colored flowers. Native birds, such as the `apapane, feed on the nectar and help with pollination. Watch for `apapane in the forest canopy. It has a red breast and head, black wings and tail, and a slightly curved black bill. In flight the `apapane makes a whirring sound as it darts from tree to tree searching for insects and nectar. On the series of short switchbacks look for kopiko, a native member of the coffee family. It has leathery, oblong leaves with a light green midrib. Turn the leaf over to see a row of tiny holes (piko [navel]) on either side of the midrib. The kopiko produces clusters of tiny white flowers and fleshy, orange fruits. Also on the switchbacks listen for the Japanese bush warbler (uguisu), a bird often heard, but rarely seen. Its distinctive cry starts with a long whistle and then winds down in a series of notes. The bush warbler is olive brown on top with a white breast and a long tail. On the upper section are two native ferns, `ama`u and hapu`u. You can tell them apart by the structure of their fronds. Those of `ama`u branch once before the green segments are attached to the stem. The fronds are red when young, gradually turning green with age. Hapu`u fronds branch several times before the green segments. Their fronds have a lacy, delicate appearance.

Special Conditions

The gate at the bottom of the access road is opened at 7:00 AM and closed at 7:00 PM. Please plan your hike accordingly. The gate at the bottom of the road may be closed at any time. If so, park in the gravel area by the gate and walk up the road (approximately 1 mile) to the trail head. The road is steep with poor lines of sight so be sure to keep to the side to avoid oncoming traffic. Do not use any trail or access road that is not delineated by name and color and that may also be displayed on these maps. The marked features are managed for public recreational use. Other trails or roads that branch off from the public features may be on private property, and are not managed for any public recreational use. Access is subject to adjacent landowner approval, and if used without authorization, you will be trespassing and possibly putting yourself at risk. Downloadable resources are provided below.