7 Trails to Run Before You Die (Hawaii Edition): Pipiwai Trail

Running in the bamboo forest.

Running in the bamboo forest.

So I didn’t run any Vancouver Island trails last weekend, because I was too busy VACATIONING IN MAUI! Yes, it was amazing and wonderful and we had a blast. I didn’t do much running, or any kind of working out for that matter (except for lifting five bottles worth of wine to my lips in a large wine glass… does that count?), but we did go for a little hike/run on the incredibly scenic Pipiwai Trail on Maui’s east coast.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find another trail in existence that gives you so much dramatic scenery in such a short distance. The Pipiwai Trail, located along the road to Hana in Haleakala National Park, is only 3 kilometres from the trail head to the breathtaking Waimoku Falls, which cascades down a sheer rock face from 400 feet above you at the end of the trail. We ended up hiking on the way there (obviously, so much to see and side trails to explore, plus plenty of Instagram moments!) and running back. The hike in took about an hour, and the run back was only 25 minutes. Besides several stunning waterfalls, other trail highlights include an infinity pool, deep water-filled caverns, caves, Hawaiian jungle, a massive banyan tree, a kilometre of bamboo forest, stunning natural pools and a turquoise-blue ocean crashing into black lava cliffs.

Pipiwai Trail

Banyan tree.

Banyan tree.

Trail name(s): Pipiwai Trail and Kipahulu Trail (for my Garmin route map, click here)
Terrain: Dusty red earth and tree roots, loose rocks, slippery river rocks and bouncy boardwalk. The trail only gains about 250 m of elevation over 3 kilometres, so it’s not a very challenging run/hike. The trail is wide enough to walk two abreast for the first two kilometres, and narrows as you pass through the bamboo forest. You’ll want to wear good running shoes for this hike.
Parking: There is a large parking lot just past the park gates. The park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle.
Trail access: Right off of the Hana Highway (Hwy 31) at about mile 42. The trail head is located at the edge of the parking lot and is well marked. There are actually two trails: the Pipiwai Trail takes you to the waterfalls, and the Kipaulu Trail takes you down to the Seven Sacred Pools by the ocean. This trail is short (maybe 500 m?), so I just rolled them into one.
Facilities: A staffed information centre, grills, picnic tables and bathrooms. You’ll want to bring water as there is no potable water on site.
Distance: About 3 km round trip.
Time: Anywhere from 1 – 2 hours, depending on if you want hike or run it. There is so much to see you’ll probably want to hike it, at least in one direction!
Description/Directions: I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves in terms of a description, but for some really good directions and insider tips on cool side trails you can take, click here.

Cavern by a waterfall just off the trail.

Cavern by a waterfall just off the trail.

Bamboo forest.

Bamboo forest.

Start of the Bamboo forest.

Start of the Bamboo forest.

Took a little detour and found this!

Took a little detour and found this!

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Waimoku Falls.

Waimoku Falls.

Seven Sacred Pools.

Seven Sacred Pools.

Apparently a good spot to jump in!

Apparently a good spot to jump in!

The edge of the Park.

The edge of the Park.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Trail Rating (out of four stars)
Terrain: ★★★★
Elevation: ★★★★
Accessibility: ★ (Only because it’s 5000 miles away and a two hour drive from civilization on the very windy Hana Highway!)
Distance: ★★
Vistas: ★★★★
Scenery: ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ 🙂

Overall: Simply breathtaking.

Next week: Mt. Quimper in the Sooke Hills
Previous week: Stewart Mountain