Ideas for Solo Hiking – Waihe‘e Ridge Trail

In April/May 2020 we are required to keep a distance from people outside of our own household to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and to allow our health and other services to take care of those who need help. Sierra Club has therefor canceled all organized outings until further notice. But we are still allowed to venture out on our own or with members of our own household for exercise such as walking, running, hiking, swimming and surfing. No need to stay cooped up at home all day. Just keep at least six feet between yourself and anyone you meet. This is the fifth of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.

The first four installments of this series covered only trails with limited elevation change. The two most popular Maui trails in the State Nā Ala Hele system provide an uphill challenge along with some extraordinary views: the Lāhaina Pali Trail and the Waihe‘e Ridge Trail. This article is about the latter of the two.

The 0.9 mile Maluhia road up to the trail head starts immediately opposite (mauka) of the Mendes Ranch on Kahekili Highway. The road ends at a parking lot with space for about 25 cars. It is often almost full. There is overflow parking at the turnoff from Kahekili Highway.

To the top of the trail and back is about 4 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,650 feet.

The first segment of the trail is a straight, steep walk up concrete, but after that it is all forest and dirt trail. Extensive repairs and improvements were completed a couple of years ago, making it less likely you’ll slip and slide. The trail is very easy to follow and you will meet families, people walking dogs and also runners.

Most of the forest is non-native but there are native ‘ōhi‘a, ‘ōlapa, uluhe and ‘ie‘ie to be seen. The Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership has been planting more native plants. There are brushes at the trailhead to clean your boots before and after hiking so you don’t risk spreading Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death or invasive species.

There are very impressive views at about the half-way point looking down to the valley and along the coast past Kahului. If you are lucky, you will have even more striking views from the top, but often that level is shrouded by clouds. Early morning is the most likely time to beat the clouds. On the way up you will see at least one waterfall.

Here is a map: The Kukuipuka Heiau is just below the trail head (leave your car in the trail head parking and walk down the road a short ways to the gate on the right).

2 thoughts on “Ideas for Solo Hiking – Waihe‘e Ridge Trail”

  1. I’m concerned about leaving my truck. Is the place safe to leave a vehicle? Maui has changed drastically since moving here in the early 80s and don’t want to put my transportation in jeopardy. Mahalo for your time!

    • That is a very good question. While I can’t say there is no risk, the parking lot has been full the times I have been there during the pandemic (and before it as well) with people coming and leaving the whole time as we prepared to set off and as we came back.

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