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Maui's Haleakala National Park @ Kipahulu
In a word, wow! Okay, so you have kicked back for a few days on the island of Maui. been to the beach, swam, drank yourself silly , did some snorkeling and, of course, shopping. You have by this time spent thousands and yet you still have another week or few days before you trek back into the grind, wherever that is. Hmmm, now what?
How about renting a car and going to Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu? Maui is relatively small and one can see it from the road in a few hours. But, don't miss this most fantastico park! First, decide whether you want to start at the low end at Kipahulu or from the high end (around 9700 ft.) at an extinct volcano. Access to both by road is possible but different roads are taken.
Haleakala National Park is more than 8000 acres that stretches from the coastline up to 9700 ft of an extinct volcano that last erupted in 1600. Your Pipiwai Trail hike is two miles up into the rainforest and two miles back down. It takes about two-and-a-half to five hours to hike. During this time, you will encounter a vast amount of different vistas, flora, and beauty. At one time, you feel like you are on Mars, later, in a lush garden with swimming pools flushed with waterfalls. The rain forest is around the 2000 ft. level and as you climb up or down (depending on where you start) the vegetation thins and thins until you notice lava, some black, some red. Once at the top, you are in for an out of this world vista, alien in some respects. I prefer starting at the top and hiking along the path for a few miles
This IS the best hikes on Maui. The Pipiwai Trail is located at Oheo Gulch in Kipahulu, about ten miles south of Hana on the Hana Highway. The trail takes you along the lower mile of Palikea Stream past unnamed waterfalls, ruins of the 1800's Sugar Hill dam, irrigation system and cane flumes. In another mile the trail crosses Palikea and follows Pipiwai Stream to Waimoku Falls, a 400 ft. fall! You will pass large bamboo forests and a giant Banyan tree planted hundreds of years ago. As you hike, you will have at least 24 pools to swim and cool off in. Some of the rainforests you will walk through will get 250 inches of rain a year. There are also 200 species of plants and rare birds thought to be extinct.
If you leave Maui without doing this fairly easy hike, you are missing Maui's best attraction!