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: https://bit.ly/waihee-ridge. 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).

Ideas for Solo Hiking – Upcountry

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 fourth of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.


The Makawao Forest Reserve hosts one of the more popular trails on Maui. It is easy to get to Upcountry, and a very pleasant destination for those seeking refuge from sun and heat near the coast because it is all shady. The Makawao Forest Reserve is an example of successful reforestation using non-native trees – mostly tropical ash, eucalyptus and cook pine. In today’s world the choice might have been native Hawaiian trees, but many of the benefits of reforestation have been accomplished. You will see indigenous ti plants and you may see indigenous maile and halapepe on your hike.

The Kahakapao Loop is just under five miles round-trip. It is well-marked and easy to follow as you can see in the pictures, with a gentle elevation gain of 1,165 feet. If the parking is full (at the end of Kahakapao Road), there is another parking lot accessible from the first parking lot, with a sign for horse trailers. The trail is shared with bike riders heading up-hill (they have dedicated trails for going down-hill). Here is a map:

https://bit.ly/kahakapao

Unfortunately there are many invasive plant species in the forest, including banana poka, strawberry guava and himalayan ginger. While they may be pretty to look at, they choke out native plants.


 

 

 

 

Ideas for Solo Hiking – Near Central Maui

In April 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 third of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.


The Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge is a wonderful place to hike and explore, easy to get to from Central Maui. If it wasn’t for the current “social distancing” restrictions, it would be an excellent place for a picnic and spending the day as well. The refuge is open to the public.

Here is some information from the Hawaian Islands Land Trust (HILT), the custodians of the refuge:

Once slated for development as a golf course, the Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge protects over 24 acres of coastal, spring-fed wetland, 103 acres of dune ecosystem, over 7000 feet of marine shoreline and more than 8 acres of riparian habitat for the recovery of native birds and native vegetation. The Land Trust took fee ownership of this very sensitive 277-acre site in 2004. Active restoration programs have enhanced critical native wildlife habitat, while preserving the area’s rich archaeological and cultural resources. Once populated with two thriving ancient Hawaiian villages, an extensive inland fishpond and several heiau (Hawaiian temples), the Waihee Refuge is among the most significant cultural sites in the state.

The Hawaiian Island Land Trust (HILT) aims to restore the Waihe’e Refuge to reflect the cultural and natural state it would have been in 200 years ago. This vision requires a lot of labor intensive work; when HILT (formerly Maui Coastal Land Trust) acquired the Waihe’e Refuge, roughly 95% of the plants found on the site were considered to be invasive species.

Restoring the Waihe’e Refuge to its historical, natural state will encourage native plants to take hold of the site again, thereby enhancing the natural resilience of the system. A healthy, more resilient landscape could buffer the impacts of climate change better than a damaged landscape could. The wetland is now up to 70% native species and native plants and birds have begun to naturally repopulate the surrounding landscape.

In testament to the returning health of the ecosystem, eight different endangered species have taken up residence at the Refuge in recent years. With the wetlands primarily cleared and habitat-appropriate plants now thriving, the area is host to many native Hawaiian bird species, including ae‘o (stilt), alae ke‘oke‘o (coot), koloa (duck), and even nene (goose).
Quiet and pristine, the Waihe‘e shoreline is a favorite retreat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals and nesting green sea turtles. Off the coast, the extensive reef is one of the longest and widest on Maui. It’s believed that this reef system provided excellent fishing in ancient times and it is, in fact, still a favorite among local fishermen today.

Parking for the refuge is either on the grass next to the refuge entrance or in the beach parking lot next to it. To get there, take Halewalu Road from Kahekili Highway. Halewalu Road leads to the Waiehu Golf Course and there are signs at the turnoff for both the golf course and the refuge. After 0.4 miles the turnoff from Halewalu Road to the refuge is on the left side. There is a sign. The road ends after 0.2 miles with the refuge entrance on the left and beach parking on the right.

This map shows a hike of 2.6 miles round-trip on level ground:

https://bit.ly/waihee-dunes

After entering the refuge, after 1,000 feet you will arrive at a fork in the trail. The old dairy is on the right and there is a map and interesting information about the refuge to read here. You can continue straight at this point, parallel to and close to the ocean, or you can take a detour off to the left as in the map. The detour takes you past areas where volunteers have been working on planting native Hawaiian plants and then rejoins the coastal trail. Either way, you will continue along the coastline until you reach the mouth of the Waihe‘e River. That is the turning point.

Coming back along the coastal trail, you can opt to walk for a stretch on the round rocks on the beach before continuing on the trail back to the parking area.

There has been very little trash the last few times I have been there, but please bring a bag just in case. The area most likely to have washed up plastic debris is the last beach before getting back to the parking area.

Ideas for solo hiking – West Maui

In April 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 second of several posts on good places to go hiking/walking without a guide.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy walk on the West Side with breath-taking views.

For a minimal 2-mile walk, park at Kapalua Parking at the intersection of Kapalua Place and Lower Honoapiilani Highway, cross Kapalua Place and follow the trail down to and along the ocean. Note the detour (see the map) out to a point at about 1/2 mile into the walk.

Note: as of May 12 at least, the path from DT Fleming Park to Makalua Point is closed off due to the coronavirus pandemic, so for this hike don’t park at DT Fleming. But you can park near the corner of Office Road and Lower Honoapili Road. That lets you do the Makaluapuna Point detour as well.

Update July 11: The restrooms at DT Fleming Park and the one at the other end of the hike at Kapalua Bay are now open.

For a longer outing, park at DT Fleming Park instead and head up the concrete path until you reach Kapalua Place and the trailhead described above. On the way there, take a detour on the lawn to the right where there is a fence and a monument informing about the historic events at Honokahua. In 1987 development of the Ritz Karlton started and uncovered the bones of hundreds of Hawaiians. There were massive protests on Maui and in Honolulu, leading to the moving of the Ritz Karlton away from the site, the preservation of the burial area and in 1990 to the Burial Treatment Law that gives traditional Hawaiian burials the same protections as those for Christian cemeteries.

On the way back from this longer outing, follow the Honokahua fence out to Makaluapuna Point for a detour to see some unusual lava stone formations forming a toothed wall against the crashing waves.

Here is a map:
https://bit.ly/kapalua-coastal

A message from the Sierra Club Maui Group amidst COVID-19

We hope you and your ʻohana are healthy and safe. We want to let you know that we are concerned about you—our valued members, volunteers, supporters and share some information and resources about how we will get through this together. We also want to update that the Sierra Club staff is currently working from home and all in-person gatherings like outings and other activities are canceled through April 30th (dates will be updated in the upcoming weeks).

For over a century the Sierra Club has used the power of bringing people together, to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth and restore the quality of the natural and human environment. Today we face additional challenges that compel us as an organization to change our in-person approach—but with no less dedication to our mission. To protect our community and wonderful volunteers, we will be working together while staying apart… but only physically. As we continue to pursue our goals, we are shifting our work to maintain connections online and do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

For the foreseeable future, our communities, economy, and democracy will face critical choices about the path ahead. As we confront a rapidly changing world, the Sierra Club has and will remain committed to fighting for a clean, just and equitable future. In light of the pandemic, our foremost demand has been for immediate relief for those affected by both the health and economic crisis. The Senate has finally approved a coronavirus relief package, providing sick leave, unemployment benefits, free coronavirus testing, food and medical aid to those most in need. The Sierra Club supported this package and our National teams worked to drive nearly 30,000 emails to members of Congress and over 4,000 tweets in support of the relief package.

This is a time when our shared values and aloha for each other play an important role. With this mindset, we can help our communities get through this in a way that minimizes the impact on the wellness and safety of us all while we continue to work towards environmental and cultural protection in a more just world.

When this is all over, we will have transformed, no doubt. We look forward to staying connected with you and of course getting together in person again to advocate for the environment, get outside for outings and service projects, and band together to continue to protect what we love.

Stay safe, healthy, positive, and calm. Together, we will move through this and hold hope for a better world.

 

NEW WEBSITE BY County of Maui Office of Economic Development for COVID19 related issues on Shelter, Food, EBT, Farmers, Rent, Unemployment, business loans, and Medical Services is:  https://www.covid19mauinui.com/

Action alert: Single use plastics ban hearing on April 17

Maui’s single-use plastics ban passed first reading (votes 8-1) in March. The council will next hear the bill on April 17. You can tune in to the meeting and submit testimony from the safety of your home:

We are asking folks to email our Council Members to thank them for voting for the ban in the first reading and also to email your testimony for the 2nd and FINAL reading in support of the Plastic Ban by Noon on April 16th.

EMAIL TESTIMONY for COUNCIL MEETINGS
to the Office of the County Clerk at county.clerk@mauicounty.us or (808) 270-7171 (fax).

PARTICIPATE BY PHONE OR VIDEO

On April 17th at 9am:

To provide oral testimony, call 1-408-740-7256 or 1-888-240-2560 (toll-free) and input meeting ID 592474137 followed by Passcode 1139.

To join by videoconference, use the following link: https://primetime.bluejeans.com/a2m/live-event/pzhvjjst.