Written by Meagan Drillinger
May 23, 2023
Author Meagan Drillinger visited Maui as part of her adventures through Hawaii in January and February 2023.
The map of Maui reads like a veritable encyclopedia of hiking. The island is marked by two volcanic mountain peaks on either side of a flat valley. Within the ranges of the mountains are infinite valleys, rivers, and beaches, all of which are webbed with miles upon miles of gorgeous hiking trails.
Maui makes it easy when it comes to hiking. A drive along the iconic Road to Hana opens up the possibility of dozens of hiking paths. Visitors can also explore the many different landscapes and routes within the island's crowned jewel, Haleakala National Park.
Wander back 500 years in time along the King's Highway, or set off into the thick jungle to discover gushing waterfalls. Step outside your luxury resort and walk a path that links the western beaches, or scramble down a rocky face to see one of the largest natural geysers in the Hawaiian islands.
Discover the best hiking on Maui with this list of our favorites.
1. Waihe'e Ridge Trail
Ask anyone on Maui what their favorite hiking trail is and most will answer Waihe'e Ridge Trail. This challenging hike not far from Kahului may be a difficult climb and tough on the quads, but it rewards with spectacular views.
The four-mile hike starts with a bang: a seriously steep incline up a paved path. The views around you are beautiful, but they may not be enough to distract you from your burning quads. Once you reach the top of the hill, the path becomes a little bit easier to manage, so muscle through it and you will be treated to amazing panoramic views.
The entire hike takes about three hours to complete with an elevation gain of 1,600 feet. It runs through the West Maui Forest Reserve and offers hikers some of the best views in the area out over the Waihe'e Valley. Expect switchbacks and some sun exposure. Along the way, you're sure to see a few waterfalls in the distance, too.
Address: Kahekili Hwy, Wailuku, Hawaii
2. Pipiwai Trail
If you're visiting Maui, chances are you will drive the spectacular Road to Hana. The drive itself is a feast for the senses and filled with so many opportunities for adventure. But if you keep driving past Hana and into Haleakala National Park, you'll discover one of the best and most beautiful hikes on Maui — the Pipiwai Trail.
The 3.7-mile out-and-back trail is moderately challenging with 900 feet of elevation gain. It takes the average hiker about two hours to complete the trail. Not only is the path exceptionally beautiful, but it also leads to two very impressive waterfalls.
The first waterfall is about half a mile up the trail, which is a very nice walk on its own. But the real treat comes if you continue on to Waimoku Falls, a plunging 400-foot waterfall that explodes out of the jungle.
Before you reach Waimoku Falls, you will pass through thick bamboo forest, cross over streams, and dive deep into the jungle of Haleakala National Park.
To enter the park, you'll have to pay $30 per vehicle. The trailhead has ample parking, as well.
Address: Pipiwai Trail, Hana, Hawaii
3. Seven Sacred Pools Trail
While you're here at Haleakala National Park, you must also take the short and easy hike to the Seven Sacred Pools. The trail for this hike is less than a mile and takes only about 15 minutes to complete the loop.
The path leads from the Kipahulu Visitor Center. Take the right fork to go downhill and hike the loop counterclockwise. The beautiful pools are fed by babbling waterfalls that cascade down one after the other. You'll actually be able to count about 20 pools in the Oheo Gulch.
This was once a popular spot for swimming, but the pools are now strictly for viewing. While you can't swim in them anymore, they are still very beautiful to look at and easy to access.
Address: Pipiwai Trail, Hana, Hawaii
4. Kapalua Coastal Trail
The Kapalua Coastline is one of Maui's most famous, thanks to its volcanic black rocks, rolling green mountain views, and long shots off into the Pacific. The 2.5-mile out-and-back Kapalua Coastal Trail is an easy route that takes less than an hour and is a great place for snapping pictures of one of Maui's most beautiful coastlines.
The easy hike is a visual feast. It runs in front of a slew of luxury hotels in Kapalua, through lava fields and alongside the ocean. You can start at Kapalua Bay (park in the Bay Villas beach) and work your way towards D.T. Fleming Beach.
5. Sliding Sands Trail
Haleakala National Park is a treasure trove of hiking trails. One of the best, and most challenging, is the Sliding Sands Trail to the Kapalaoa Cabin. Perched at the highest point in Maui — at more than 10,000 feet above sea level — the trail is an 11.5-mile out-and-back adventure overlooking the stark and rugged volcanic landscape around Haleakala.
Getting up to the trailhead is an adventure in itself. The road winds its way up switchbacks, climbing up to the summit of the volcano. It's a paved road but takes more than half an hour to reach the top. Once you're up at the summit, the trailhead can be accessed from the observation area.
One thing is for certain — you've likely never seen a trail like this one before. The landscape is something that is truly out of this world.
Admission to Haleakala National Park is $30 per vehicle.
6. Nakalele Blowhole Trail
To call Nakalele Blowhole Trail a hike is a bit generous, but it's certainly an experience that can't be missed on Maui. The 1.2-mile out-and-back trail is up on the northern coast of the island and leads to one of the top attractions — the Nakalele Blowhole.
The coastal blowhole is an eruption of seawater that explodes through a hole in the lava rocks down by the ocean. It's a natural geyser that launches trapped seawater from an underwater tube up into the air. Sometimes the explosions can be as high as 100 feet.
Visitors can walk down the rocky slope to get close to the blowhole. But be aware of the signs warning you to avoid getting too close. Giant waves do come out of nowhere and engulf the area where the hole is, and it's not uncommon to get sucked out to sea.
Observing from a distance ensures you get the best pictures all while staying safe.
7. Twin Falls Trails
Yet another one of the many trails off the Road to Hana, Twin Falls Trail is a 1.8-mile out-and-back trail that is relatively moderate and can be done in less than an hour. The trail leads to a waterfall, which makes it one of the most popular trails along the Hana Highway.
The walk in towards the waterfall is pretty quick, which is great because what you really want to do is get to the waterfall for a chance to swim underneath the falls. If you're interested in cliff jumping, you'll find several spots to jump into the pools below.
The trailhead can be found along the Road to Hana past Paia Town at mile marker #2.
8. Halemau'u Haleakala Overlook Trail
Inside Haleakala National Park, about three-quarters of the way up to the summit, is another very popular hiking trail that pays out in spectacular views over the Haleakala Crater. This challenging trail runs for 7.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,375 feet. It's one of the harder hikes to do on Maui and can take four and a half hours to complete.
Along the route, the views are otherworldly. Brace yourself for lots of volcanic lava fields, scrub brush, red soil, and, of course, sweeping panoramic views of the crater. The good news is if you don't feel like doing the entire trail, you can hike a mile in to stand at the lip of the crater for one of the most awe-inspiring views. Then simply turn around and head back to the parking lot.
Of course, you can continue on if you're feeling adventurous. Far fewer people are on the second portion of the trail.
9. Hoapili Trail to Hanamanoioa Point Lighthouse
South of Kihei and past Wailea is a beautiful section of Maui. This rugged, less touristy corner of the island is known for its lava fields, views of Haleakala, and coastal routes that hug the ocean with views of Molokini and Kaho'olawe islands.
Along this part of the island, you'll find the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, where the Hoapili Trail begins. This 3.6-mile out-and-back trail is considered moderate with an elevation gain of 141 feet. It takes just over an hour to complete.
The views along the way are quite unique and rugged, as you travel through the lava field from one of the last eruptions on Maui. The lava here dates back to the 18th century. This trail begins at La Perouse Bay, named after the first European to drop anchor near Maui in 1786.
The entire trail is exposed, so you will want to bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. It's a clearly marked trail that follows along the water.
10. Pua'a Ka'a Falls Trail
One of the easiest hikes in Maui is the Pua'a Ka'a Falls Trail. Located within Pua'a Ka'a State Park along the Road to Hana, this .4-mile out-and-back trail takes about 10 minutes to complete and leads to a really beautiful waterfall.
The hike is very accessible with ample parking just off the highway. Cross over the road to find a paved path and viewing platforms overlooking a waterfall. You can even take a dip in the pools underneath. This is one of the most popular stops along the Road to Hana.
11. Acid War Trail
If you're in West Maui and want to visit the Nakalele Blowhole, you can take a different trail that is considered to be one of the most rewarding hikes. Called the "scenic" route, this trail begins at a dirt pullout along Route 340 and travels through some beautifully scenic landscape before reaching the blowhole.
The coastal route along the Acid War Zone Trail descends down to a landscape of volcanic lava stone. Chances are you may be one of the only people on the trail, as most opt for the more direct path down to the blowhole.
This route, however, is a bit more intimate and certainly otherworldly. It's a really unique way to get to one of the most popular attractions on Maui. Just be sure to stay far enough away from the edge. The waves can be unpredictable, and accidents do happen.
12. The King's Highway
Meet perhaps the most historic trail on the island of Maui. The King's Highway is not only a stunning, multi-landscaped hike — it also happens to serve a historical and cultural purpose.
The King's Highway was constructed more than five centuries ago as the road built by the native settlers and it circles the entire island. The 138-mile trail was paved with basalt stones and helped unify the 12 subdivisions of the island. As European settlers moved towards Hawaii, the trail became lost to time.
Today, the mostly dismantled highway remains a rough and rugged hiking trail not far from Kihei. While it's not the same grand path that it was 500 years ago, the historic significance and natural beauty of the landscape will certainly make an impression.
The trail is part of the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve and runs for four miles. The majority of the trail is exposed, so you will want to bring a hat and sunscreen. Don't forget your snorkel equipment either, as the lava rock pools along the way are prime spots for spotting some beautiful wildlife.