Unique Pipiwai Trail Hike to Bamboo Forest and Waimoku Falls in Maui 2023
The Pipwai Trail hike in Haleakala National Park is one of the best hikes on the Maui island of Hawaii! With just a little effort the hike rewards you with several amazing features like a stunning bamboo forest, several waterfalls, and a huge Banyan tree.
I recently hiked the Pipiwai trail with my family on the Road to Hana journey and it was one of our most memorable experiences in Maui.
Quite a bit of planning goes into figuring out the logistics of hiking the Pipiwai trail because of its remote location towards the end of the extremely windy 4-hour long Road to Hana drive.
This complete guide about the Pipiwai Trail hike contains all the information you will need to plan your visit to the Pipiwai Trail and hike to the stunning Waimoku falls and experience a bamboo forest in Maui.
Table of Contents
Where is the Pipiwai Trail
The Pipiwai trail is in the Kipahulu District, on the southeast side of Haleakala National Park on Maui island of Hawaii. It is accessed via Highway 360, popularly known as the Road to Hana.
Is the Pipiwai Trail on the Road to Hana?
Yes, Pipiwai Trail is on the Road to Hana, around 12 miles past Hana at Mile Marker 42. It takes around a 30-minute drive to reach the Pipiwai Trailhead from Hana.
Pipiwai Hike Trailhead is near the parking lot of Haleakala National Park. You will need to park at Haleakala National Park to hike the Pipiwai trail.
How to get to Pipiwai Trail
You will need a rental car to reach the Pipiwai Trail. Most Road to Hana tours do not stop at the Pipiwai trail as it takes 2-3 hours to do the hike.
It might be a good idea to rent a car at Kahului Airport (OGG) as most places in Maui are best explored with a rental car.
✅ I recommend Discover cars as they check top car rental brands and offer the best rates.
To reach the Pipiwai trail you will need to drive the entire Road to Hana and beyond the town of Hana for another 12 miles.
Thus it makes it really hard logistically to reach the Pipiwai trail early in the day as it can take 3 to 4 hours one way to reach Pipiwai Trail from West or South Maui.
Distance and travel time from various places in Maui to Pipiwai trail without any stops:
- Kannapali to Pipiwai Trail: around 3 hours and 30 minutes
- Lahaina to Pipiwai trail: around 3 hours and 15 minutes
- Kihei to Pipiwai trail: around 3 hours
- Wailea to Pipiwai trail: around 3 hours
- Paia to Pipiwai trail: around 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Hana to Pipiwai trail: around 30 minutes
To reach the Pipiwai trail from West or South Maui, you will need to drive through the Road to Hana which is a challenging drive with its narrow and curvy roads and one-lane bridges.
It takes around 3 hours to drive the Road to Hana without any stops, but the reality is you will be making a lot of stops on the way. The Road to Hana is just too beautiful with the views and waterfalls along the way and you will be tempted to make stops.
To reach the Pipiwai trail around 9 AM, which is the Haleakala National Park opening time, you will need to start from South or West Maui between 5:30 and 6 AM.
I have come across so many folks who spend a lot of time at the Road to Hana stops and do not have any time left for the Pipiwaii trail hike as it is at the end of the Road to Hana drive.
I recommend driving straight to the Pipiwai trail first and then doing the Road to Hana stops on the way back. That way you will ensure that you do not miss this amazing bucket list waterfall and bamboo forest hike in Maui.
Staying overnight in Hana for Pipiwai Trail
An alternative and probably one of the best ways to do the Road to Hana and Pipiwai trail is to stay overnight in Hana. This is what we did as we were lucky to find accommodations at the beautiful Hana Kai Maui for one night. Hyatt Hana Maui was sold out for our dates.
✅ Hyatt Hana-Maui is the best place to stay overnight in Maui!
If you are staying overnight in Hana then the next day morning you can reach the Pipiwai trail in just 30 minutes from Hana.
This hike is amazing first thing in the morning and without the crowds. You will have a better experience hiking first thing in the morning, than after a long 4-hour drive on a windy road.
After the hike, you will have enough time to explore the remainder of the Road to Hana stops and go back to either Hana or your hotel in West or South Maui.
Back Road to Hana for Pipiwai Trail
There is another way to reach the Pipiwai Trail by driving on the backside of Haleakala National Park on Piilani Highway 31, also called the Back road to Hana.
Back Road to Hana is not the recommended way to reach Pipiwai trail as part of the road is not paved, and also the road is very narrow in many sections making it almost impossible for two cars to pass each other.
This road is best left for locals and tour vehicles that use 4-wheel drives and have experience driving on this road.
Tip: I recommend getting the Gypsy Road to Hana Audio tour which gives you information about the upcoming stops on the Road to Hana and anywhere else in Maui as well.
Pipiwai Trail Parking, Hours and Entrance Fee
Below is some information on where to park for the Pipiwai trail, entrance fee and trail hours.
Park Entrance Fee
To use the Pipiwai trail you will need to pay the Haleakala National Park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. The good news is that the entry permit is valid for 3 consecutive days and is accepted at the Haleakala Summit as well.
You can visit the Haleakala Summit for sunrise or sunset within the next 3 days using the same entrance fee. This is what we did!
Pipiwai Trail Parking
The parking lot for the Pipiwai Trail is just past the entrance gate of Haleakala National Park.
The Pipiwai trailhead is a short walk from the parking lot and you have to cross the single-lane Hana Highway to access it. The trail is well-marked and not hard to find.
Pipiwai Trail hours
The Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park is open from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Cars start lining up outside the park entrance 30-45 minutes before the park opening. We reached there at 9:10 AM and there were quite a few cars parked already.
Do you need reservations for the Pipiwai Trail?
No, you do not need prior reservations to hike the Pipiwai trail or the Oheo Gulch trail. You just need to pay the entrance fee of Haleakala National Park at the gate.
Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls Statistics
Below are some statistics for Pipiwai Bamboo Forest Trail to Waimoku Falls:
- Hike Length – around 4 miles roundtrip
- Time Needed – Around 2 to 3 hours
- Hike Route Type – Out and Back
- Elevation – Around 908 feet
- Difficulty Level – Moderate due to elevation
- Trailhead Location – Starts near the Kipahulu Visitor Center at Pipiwai Trailhead.
- Parking – Yes, the parking lot at Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park
- Parking Fee – $30 entrance fee of Haleakala National Park valid for 3 consecutive days
- Region – Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park in Maui island of Hawaii
- Kid-friendly? – Yes
- Dog-friendly? – No, dogs aren’t allowed on this trail.
- Stroller/wheelchair friendly? – No. The hike is a dirt road and uneven with lots of steep stone steps, it is not paved.
Hiking the Pipiwai Trail
Pipiwai trail hike is one of the most beautiful waterfall hikes in Hawaii and a must-do in any Maui itinerary. The hike is only 2 miles one way and has so many interesting and unique features to explore along the way.
Where else will you get to see more than a hundred-year-old majestic Banyan tree, walk through a dense bamboo forest and see some towering waterfalls? Only on the Pipiwai Trail hike!
We started our hike at around 9:15 AM and we were one of the first ones on the trail. While going up we had the trail to ourselves plenty of times. We could hear the sounds of the forest, birds, waterfalls, and bamboo plants. It was magical and soothing!
While coming back a lot of people were on the trail and the forest sounds were lost with all the foot traffic and people talking.
It had luckily not rained the week we were in Maui, so the Pipiwai trail was very dry which was awesome. If it was raining recently the trail can be quite muddy and slippery.
Hiking boots are needed on the Pipiwai trail due to the uneven rocky terrain. While coming back down, we saw several people and even kids going up the trail in flip-flops and we felt that was a bad choice of footwear for this trail!
The entire hike has shaded areas on and off which was great and we did not feel too hot during the hike. I think the early morning time helped too with the heat.
Start of the Pipiwai Trail hike
The Pipiwai Trail hike starts near the Kipahulu Visitor Center at Pipiwai Trailhead, just past the parking lot.
At the start of the trail, you will see a signboard that points to the left for Pipiwai Trail. The Right trail takes you to the Pools of Oheo. Take the left trail and climb up the short path to reach the Hana Highway.
You will cross the single-lane highway here to get to the Pipiwai trail on the other side of the highway. After this, the trail path is very easy to follow.
The initial part of the trail is all uphill with a series of stone steps and sometimes even natural steps made by tree roots! The terrain keeps changing and keeps the climb interesting.
Around 0.5 miles into the trail you will reach the Makahiku falls viewpoint.
The day we went it was quite dry so the falls were just a trickle. But if it has rained recently the falls can be quite impressive.
Around 1 mile into the Pipiwai Trail hike, you will reach the majestic banyan tree. No camera can do justice to this magnificent tree or capture the vast spread of the tree.
The hanging roots from the tree have become tree trunks themselves. The tree is just so powerful and peaceful at the same time.
In the morning we had the tree to ourselves for some time! It was a great experience to just admire the tree and feel humble in its grand presence.
Later in our Maui trip, we saw another huge Banyan tree at the Lahaina waterfront that was equally huge!
After the Banyan tree, you cross a bridge and there is another set of cascading waterfalls and pools to enjoy from the bridge viewpoint.
Around 1 mile into the trail, just shortly after the banyan tree, you will enter the bamboo forest part of the hike. The walk through the bamboo forest was the best part of the hike. This hike is also referred to as the Bamboo Forest hike.
Sections of the trail through the bamboo forest are flat with boardwalk panels to walk over. At times the trail becomes a rocky path and the trail keeps alternating between boardwalks and rocky terrain.
After crossing the bamboo forest over the boardwalks, you can finally start to see the Waimoku falls in the distance.
The Waimoku falls is a towering 400 feet waterfall that can be seen from far away. You need to cross a small stream with boulders to reach closer to the falls.
Since 2021 the National Park has placed a big sign that prohibits visitors from going to the base of the falls. We saw folks still going past the sign, but it is at their own risk.
Swimming in Waimoku falls is not permitted due to the danger of falling rocks and debris from above which can be fatal.
We decided to turn back and respect the rules as they are there for a reason and for our own safety.
Return hike on Pipiwai Trail
The return hike on the Pipiwai trail is going back the same way you came. Going downhill is hard on the knees and I am glad I had my hiking sticks for support.
We spend some time just standing in the bamboo forest and listening to the sounds of the bamboo plants rustling with the wind. We also stopped again at the Banyan tree as it was just so impressive!
Finally, we reached back at the Pipiwai Trailhead near the Visitor Center.
Extending the hike to see the Pools of Oheo
After reaching the starting point of the Pipiwai trail, we continued to the trail at the right of the fork to see the Pools of Oheo. The 0.5-mile loop trail is also called the Kuloa Point trail.
There were a couple of viewpoints on the trail to see the cascading Pools of Oheo and where the pools meet the ocean. The panoramic coastal views here are breathtaking!
Tips for hiking the Pipiwai trail and FAQs
The tips below will help you make the most of your Pipiwai Trail hike and your visit to the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park:
When is the best time to hike the Pipiwai Trail?
The best time to hike the Pipiwai trail is early morning when the park entrance gate opens at 9 AM. Very few visitors reach early in the day and you will have the trail pretty much to yourselves while going up.
How long does it take to hike the Pipiwai Trail?
It takes around 2 to 3 hours total to hike the Pipiwai trail, depending on how many stops you make for photos and to admire the scenery or simply to catch your breath!
Is the Pipiwai Trail difficult?
The Pipiwai trail is moderately difficult due to the incline, uneven terrain, and stone steps. But the steps are not continuous. Most people in good health should be able to hike this trail. Hiking poles are recommended for folks with knee issues.
Do you have to pay to hike the Pipiwai Trail?
Yes, you have to pay the Haleakala National Park entrance fee to hike the Pipiwai trail. It is $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. The entrance permit is valid for 3 consecutive days and you can use it at the Haleakala Summit entrance as well.
What to pack for the Pipiwai Trail hike?
The Pipiwai Trail hike is in a very remote area of Maui and you should plan to pack whatever you need. Below are some things you might need:
- Hiking Shoes – You need a good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes here. Flip flops won’t do as the terrain is quite rocky and can be slippery or muddy when wet.
- Reusable water bottle – There is a bottle filling station near the Kipahulu visitor center.
- Food and snacks – It’s best to carry some snacks or food to eat after the hike. We took banana bread with us!
- Mosquito repellant – We got so many mosquito bites that itched for days! Should have taken this.
- Sunscreen – The trail is exposed to the sun initially
- Cap or hat
- Hiking poles – If you need them for ascending/descending
- First-Aid kit
What else can you do after the Pipiwai Trail hike?
There are several things that you can do after the Pipiwai Trail hike:
- Hike the half-mile loop trail to see the Pools of Oheo
- Visit the Hamoa white sand beach
- Visit the Koki red sand beach and eat at Huli Huli Chicken
- Stop and admire the Wailua Falls
- Relax at the black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park. (Advance reservations are required here)
- Explore Hana town and eat at the food trucks
- Visit the Hana Lava tube
- Drive the Road to Hana and see the best stops on the Road to Hana
Where to stay for Pipiwai Trail hike?
Staying overnight in Hana is the best way to do the Pipiwai trail hike as you can reach the trailhead in 30 minutes from Hana town. Driving from West or South Maui can take 4 hours to reach the trailhead and there can be traffic which can take even longer.
Below are some accommodation options in Hana:
- Hyatt Hana-Maui Resort is the best luxury accommodation in Hana with a restaurant, spa, pool, and activities.
- Hana-Kai Resort is a mid-range oceanfront resort next to a black sand beach.
- Heavenly Hana Paradise is a mid-range guest house with several studio rooms with private bathrooms. The location is serene in a tropical setting and close to food options in Hana.
- There are several vacation rentals available in Hana and you can book one suitable for your group size.
Final Takeaways: Hiking the Pipiwai trail to Bamboo Forest and Waimoku Falls
The Pipiwai trail hike is a bucket list hike and one of the best waterfall hikes in Hawaii!
The Pipiwai Trail has some unique features like the majestic huge banyan tree, the amazing bamboo forest, and the 400 feet towering Waimoku falls.
The Pipiwai Trail is at the end of the Road to Hana drive and staying overnight in Hana is the best way to do this hike. For a day trip to Pipiwai Trail, plan to start really early from west or south Maui.
Check out my other posts about Maui below: