Maui - Oheo Gulch, Haleakala National Park

Introduction:

Where? : The park is located 12 more miles after Hana town (about 30 minutes’ drive), near mile marker 42 on the Hana Highway (Road to Hana), at this point the road to the west turns into hwy 31. This is the last official point of the road to Hana.

Google Map Link








What? : The Oheo Gulch, also known as the Kipahulu Area, is the lower oceanside section of Haleakala Volcano National Park. The Oheo Gulch region is home to lush jungle landscapes, few hiking trails, many waterfalls, river pools, volcanic rocks ocean coast and more.

Pipiwai Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes and it is among my best Maui highlights list.

 

Due note 1: This is part of Haleakala National Park, entering pass to one of the park sections is valid for 3 days, so if you visited the summit section keep your receipt.

 

Due note 2: To protect visitor safety, the park has closed the ‘Oheʻo Pools to visitors and they will remain closed until the area can be assessed for risk of further rockslides.

 

Due note 3: Try to get here early to avoid the massive number of tourists arriving on buses by 11.00am. Easier said than done but the trail and the waterfall can get packed with other visitors at noon.

I re-drive the road to Hana, starting at 6am, because we did not make the Pipiwai Trail the previous day. When I got in the parking lot was half empty on my hike out I saw all the visitors filling the trail.

 

Due note 4: Wear good shoes as the trail can get muddy after rain.

 

Due note 5: Bring light rain gear with you, it can always rain at this side of the island.

 

My thoughts: The most remote location on the Road to Hana but one of the highlights of our Maui visit, especially Pipiwai Trail hike. I know it far away but I highly recommend visiting this park and hiking the trail.

 

The visit:

Soon after passing the last narrow bridge on the Road to Hana (do not stop for taking pictures of the pools below) you will see on your left the entrance to Kipahulu National Park.

Pass the gate and park at the parking lot near the small visitor center (was closed because of the Corona).


Right after you start the trail you will reach the trial fork, taking left will take you up the Pipiwai Trail, taking right will take you to the Kuloa trail.

I will recommend starting your visit at Pipiwai Trail, not only it is beautiful trail it is much longer so better start doing it and only later visit the shorter lower section of the park.

 

If you are asking about “The Seven Sacred Pool” than this is more a marketing slogan created many years back to attract tourist to this remote park. Along the river and waterfalls there are more pools than seven but currently access to all of them is denied.

 

Pipiwai Trail:

Starting near the visitor center, the 2-miles trail (one way), with 800f elevation gain, will take you to Waimoku falls.




This is not an easy hike but most people, including kids, can do it.

This is at list 3 hr hike to the waterfall and back so make sure you have enough time to do it before you start. It can get very dark fast once you are in the jungle.

 

When starting the hike, you will cross the road and start climbing along the river gorge on your right. After 0.5 mile you will reach Makahiku falls viewpoint (200f high falls).

The trail keeps climbing alongside the flowing river and after short distance you will reach to an amazing huge tree. This is the “famous” gigantic banyan tree.

I learned that banyan’s branches prop roots into the grounds, because of this impressive tree view Hinduism considers the banyan the symbol of eternal life.

 

Keep following the trail and after crossing the bridges over the main river and 2 waterfalls you will get into a smaller river ravine and soon into the Bamboo forest (1 mile from TH).


Some muddy sections of the bamboo forest trail are covered with well-maintained and non-slippery boardwalk.

i came early so I was almost alone in this trail section, it was amazing experience to listen to the bamboo noise when the wind was blowing.





At the last trail section, after leaving the dance Bamboo forest, the trail become narrow and sketchy. It is not fun to be here when there many other tourists that blocking the trail.

Soon you will see in the jungle opening the sheer lava rock cliff surrounding you and the 400f Waimoku waterfall going down.


This is beautiful waterfall and more than well worth the hike.

At some point you will reach a large clear sign that state the end of the trail: “DO NOT PASS THIS POINT FATALITIES HAVE OCCURED”.

There is a narrow trail that continue to the base of the waterfall, as it is not recommended use your own discretion if to proceed or not.When I visited the waterfalls were not strong and you can go all the way to the base of them (some even got under the waterfall).





Once you are done here you need to hike the trail back, this time it is all downhill.

 



Kuloa loop trail:

This is a short 0.5-mile trail that is going to the ocean front and back above the Pools of Oheo section. Unfortunately, as stated the pools are under safety closure and any access, or swimming, is forbidden.







 

www:

https://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm

 

Map:

https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/upload/Kipahulu-Trail-Map.pdf

 

Pictures:



























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