From lush tropical rainforests and rushing waterfalls to fascinating lava fields and bamboo gardens, Maui offers some of the most impressive hiking trails on the Hawaiian Islands. No matter your interests, time frame, or experience level, there is an incredible array of impressive trails to choose from. Read on for a list of the best hikes in Maui followed by a helpful set of answers to frequently asked questions about hiking on this gorgeous Hawaiian island.
Iao Valley State Park
Distance: 0.6 miles
Time: bout 30 minutes
Elevation: 200 feet
Iao Valley offers a nice short loop trail completely paved and great for all skill levels. The trail is bordered by gorgeous gardens filled with native plants and a rushing stream, and the route leads to a lookout that offers scenic views of the lush valley and the famous Kuka’emoku. Also known as the Iao Needle, Kuka’emoku is a 1,200-foot natural rock formation that has become covered in greenery. The iconic natural monument was once used as a religious altar by the Hawaiian people and famously served as a lookout point in the 1790 Battle of Kepaniwai, making this one of the best hiking trails in Maui for history buffs. It is recommended that you take this hike in the morning, before the clouds roll in and partially obstruct the views of the Iao Needle.
Waihee Ridge Trail
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 3–4 hours
Elevation: 1,610 feet
Located on the windward side of Maui, this gorgeous out-and-back trail runs through a forest reserve and offers spectacular views of the rainforest valley and rushing waterfalls. Although its windward position makes this a great choice for a waterfall hike in Maui, it also means frequent rainfall and slippery mud. The uphill climb is pretty steep, making this a difficult choice for beginners and a challenging adventure for experienced hikers.
13 Crossings Trail
Distance: 2 miles
Time: About 2 hours
Elevation: 524 feet
Set on Makamakaole Stream, this out-and-back trail is another beautiful waterfall hike in Maui offering incredible scenery and an almost entirely shaded path. The route is named 13 Crossings because you cross the creek 13 times to get to the waterfall. It is located about 10 minutes away from Waihee Ridge Trail, so ambitious hikers can take on both routes in the same day. Although 13 crossings is an easier trek than Waihee, it can get a bit difficult when conditions are wet and muddy so be sure to wear shoes or sneakers with a good grip and steer clear of sandals.
The path is not clearly marked or well maintained, but it is easy to follow nonetheless, and the fallen trees and scattered rocks make for an exciting adventure. When you start on the path you’ll notice that the river divides at a fork, leaving you with two different options that both lead to a waterfall. The left-side path leads to a spacious waterfall area with places to sit and swim, and you’ll find even more pools and waterfalls if you venture a bit further up the trail. The right side of the creek leads to a fun rope swing that you can use to climb up the waterfall.
Waikamoi Nature Trail
Distance: 0.8–1.5 miles
Time: 30 minutes–1 hour
Elevation: 255 feet
For a relatively quick and easy bamboo forest hike in Maui, Waikamoi Ridge Trail will lead you through gorgeous terrain filled with wildflowers. The trail starts out with a small loop just under a mile long and leads to an optional out-and-back extension. Located along the Hana Highway, this is a convenient option for beginners although the muddy terrain means you’ll need proper shoes and you may want to bring along a towel.
Twin Falls Hike
Distance: 1.8 miles
Time: 1–2 hours
Elevation: 347 feet
As the first waterfall hike situated along the Hana Highway, Twin Falls Trail offers a relatively simple and easily accessible out-and-back route. The trail promises an exciting waterfall adventure with several stream crossings and great opportunities for swimming. There are multiple waterfalls along the route and around the area, but the Twin Falls, also known as the Caveman Falls, are at the end of the trail and are by the far the most impressive. Due to its convenient location, this hiking trail can get extremely crowded in the mid-morning, and it is recommended that you either visit very early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the hordes of tourists.
Distance: 3.8 miles
Time: 2–5 hours
Elevation: 650 feet
Situated near the end of the Hana Highway in the Kipahulu region of Haleakala National Park, the Pipiwai Trail starts off with a few steep inclines but levels out after about a half mile. At this point, you’ll likely be able to spot the distant Makahiku Falls, which is enveloped in tropical ferns and hanging vines. The trail is known for its beautiful and diverse terrain ranging from lush rainforest to Zen bamboo forest. After crossing a few bridges, about a mile into the hike, you’ll enter the bamboo section of the trail followed by another rushing waterfall known as Waimoku Falls. This incredible bamboo forest hike in Maui has a stellar reputation for being safe and well maintained, and its unique natural scenery is sure to take your breath away.
Kuloa Point Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
Time: About 30 minutes
Elevation: 100 feet
If you’re short on time or just looking for a quick and easy hike in Maui, head out on Kuloa Point Trail. The half-mile loop is close to the Pipiwai Trail and starts at the Kipahulu Visitor Center. The stunning route will lead you past ancient walls and luscious fruit trees toward freshwater pools and gorgeous ocean views. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see 30 miles out to the Big Island across the water.
Distance: 11 miles
Time: 6–10 hours
Elevation: 2,795 feet
Also known as the Sliding Sands Trail, this unique out-and-back hike is set in the Summit Area of Haleakala National Park. The otherworldly terrain and enchanting colors of the Haleakala Crater offer one of the best volcano hikes in Maui and will make you feel like you’re on Mars. Uniquely, the hike starts at the top of the mountain and descends down the crater floor. The entire trek is only recommended for experienced hikers, but most people will take on the first two miles and head back. This will give you a chance to soak in the jaw-dropping scenery and leave you the rest of the day to fulfill your Maui itinerary.
Distance: 5.5 miles
Time: About 6 hours
Elevation: 200 feet
Also known as King’s Highway, this lava field trail was formed from a volcanic eruption in the late 1700s and gives hikers the feeling of embarking on a journey to Mordor, much like Sam and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. Although the route is relatively flat, the rugged terrain features jagged lava flows, loose rocks, and deep cracks that must be navigated carefully in order to avoid injury. Since there is very little shade on the route, it can get very hot during the day and windy in the afternoon. Be sure to wear close-toed shoes, ideally a sturdy pair of hiking boots to protect your feet from sharp rocks, and bring along plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen.
The best time to take on the trail is in the early morning or the late afternoon to catch the sunset, and keep in mind that there is no cell reception along the route. Most people will follow the trail to the lighthouse and then turn back, a shorter journey that should take about two hours. The trailhead is situated about 40 minutes away from Kihei, as far as the road will take you heading south in Maui.
Hosmer Grove Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles
Time: About 30 minutes
Elevation: 75 feet
This quick and easy loop trail in the Summit Area of Haleakala National Park offers some of the best hiking in Maui for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers. The route takes you through a forest reserve where researchers planted several foreign species of trees in an attempt to bolster the timber industry in 1910. Although this project was largely unsuccessful, the land offers a varied selection of native and non-native plants as a result, which makes for a uniquely interesting hike. There are also several species of birds and other wildlife to observe along the way.
Kapalua Coastal Trail
Distance: 3.5 miles
Time: 1–2 hours
Elevation: 209 feet
The Kapalua Coastal Trail runs along the ocean’s edge from Kapalua Bay Beach to D.T. Fleming Beach. Depending on which side you start from, you can park for free in the Bay Villas parking lot or the Fleming Beach parking lot. The trail will take you over sand dunes, across lava fields, through the wilderness, and past luxurious hotels and condos, all the while staying close to the coast for incredible waterfront views. The path runs through diverse terrain and walking conditions but offers a pretty easy out-and-back hike with an award-winning beach on each end.
Lahaina Pali Trail
Distance: 5–10 miles
Time: 3–10 hours
Elevation: 1,600–3,200 feet
This rugged trail spans from Maalaea to Ukumehame and offers hikers a few different options of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. The entire trail is 10 miles out-and-back and crosses directly through Kaheawa wind farm, where you can catch awesome views of the gigantic turbines. For a shorter hike of about five miles, you can choose whether you’d like to follow the eastern side or the western side.
Both options come with a 1,600-foot elevation gain and promise cool views of the windmills and the ocean, but the western side is a bit shorter and offers more shaded areas. Regardless of which path you choose, the trail is steep, rocky, and difficult, making this one of the best hikes in Maui for experienced athletes. Sturdy closed-toe hiking shoes are ideal, and you’ll want to bring along a ton of water. The scenic trail was hand-built in the 1800s and features incredible views and several historical markers.
Waihou Spring Trail Loop
Distance: 1.8 miles
Time: 1–2 hours
Elevation: 600 feet
Located near Makawao, Maui, this shaded hiking trail leads to a green overlook followed by a lovely spring. The loop trail offers a relatively easy hike through pine forests, although the final stretch can be a bit difficult with its steep slopes and switchbacks. Wet and muddy conditions can make these obstacles particularly challenging, but the trail is still an accessible option for beginners. Along the route, you’ll pass a mossy wall, old irrigation tunnels, and several gorgeous species of trees, including Monterey, cypress, and eucalyptus.
Wai’anapanapa State Park Coastal Trail
Distance: 2 miles
Time: About 2 hours
Elevation: 150 feet
Wai’anapanapa State Park is accessible by the Hana Highway and requires an advance reservation and a $10 fee for access to the trail. Hikers can book slots for 2.5–3 hours and take the out-and-back coastline trail North or South. The volcanic coastline is dotted with jagged black lava rocks and offers gorgeous natural scenery and excellent opportunities for pole fishing. The North portion of the trail is known to be a bit more rugged and offers less shade than the South portion, although the North side will lead you to interesting historic spots like the Kaupakalua burial site and Pukaulua Point. The South portion of the trail offers several blow holes and great opportunities to get close to the water.
Distance: 13.5 miles
Time: 1 day
Elevation: 5,725 feet
If you’re looking for an advanced trail in Haleakala National Park, consider embarking on this steep trek to the ocean. This out-and-back trail is the most difficult in the park and one of the most strenuous hikes in Maui. High-quality hiking boots with ankle support are recommended, and it is not advisable to take on the trail by yourself. The route will take you from the Paliku campground, down through the Kaupo Gap, and out toward the shore. There are a series of challenging switchbacks and tedious descents along the way, and you’ll cross through various terrain from forest and brushland to rocky paths and rough lava strips.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to Pack for Hiking in Maui
Depending on the type of hike you’re interested in, you’ll want to bring along an appropriate pair of shoes. For easier trails where you think you’ll be crossing streams, hiking sandals may be a convenient option as they’ll give you a bit more traction than standard sandals. If you’re taking on rugged forest terrain or jagged lava trails, close-toed shoes and sturdy hiking boots are ideal. Keep in mind that hiking boots tend to be more water resistant than sneakers. Depending on which shoes you go for, it may also be helpful to throw an extra pair of dry socks in your backpack.
It goes without saying that no matter which trail you choose, you’ll need to bring along sufficient drinking water. This is especially important for longer trails and trails with limited shade, which may also require that you bring along sunscreen and hiking snacks. If you’re trekking through a humid rainforest, bug spray is another useful item to keep in your hiking backpack. Opt for a waterproof backpack if you’re facing wet weather, waterfall hikes, or a trail with multiple stream crossings, and avoid bringing your cell phone or any other items that you don’t want to get wet.
When Is the Best Time to Hike in Maui?
Although Maui offers impressive hikes year-round, the best time to hit the trails is either between September and October or April and May. These seasons are more likely to bring sunny weather, eliminating the difficulty added by wet and muddy trails. These are also the months when the trails will be a bit less crowded, so you can enjoy that gorgeous natural scenery in solitude. Unfortunately, some of the best places to hike in Maui will draw in a fair amount of people no matter the season. The best way to beat the crowds is to head out in the early morning or the late afternoon. This will also help you avoid the sunniest part of the day for the more exposed trails.
What Is the Best Waterfall Hike in Maui?
For any traveler interested in chasing waterfalls on their Hawaiian adventure, Pipiwai Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Maui. The moderate trek offers a bit of a challenge without being too out of reach for novice hikers. If you make it to the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the 400-foot Waimoku Falls, one of the tallest on the island. Along the way, you’ll also spot several smaller but equally magnificent falls.
What Is the Best Hike for Kids/Families?
Iao Valley is known as one of the best kid-friendly hikes in Maui. The route is completely paved and relatively short, and the gorgeous gardens and historic national monument offer a lot to see and learn about. Hosmer Grove Trail is another popular choice for families with small children, since the route is short and easy and offers plenty of opportunities for natural and historic sightseeing. If you’re traveling with older children or an adventurous group, Twin Falls is another good option. There are a ton of great spots for swimming and gazing at waterfalls, and the trek isn’t too difficult for little ones.
What Is the Best Easy Hike in Maui?
Kuloa Point Trail offers some of the best hiking in Maui for beginners. The half-mile trek only gains about 100 feet of elevation and offers some beautiful scenery and expansive ocean views. All of the kid-friendly hikes mentioned above are also fairly easy and make great options for beginners along with the Waikamoi Ridge Trail, which can easily be shortened to just under a mile and offers gorgeous bamboo forests and wildflower gardens.
Hopefully this list helps you find a few more adventures to add to your island itinerary. Whether you’re looking for a challenging trek through the clouds or an easy trail for the whole family, Maui is filled with some of the best hikes around.