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Pipiwai Trail Hike & the Bamboo Forest Maui: How to Hike this Incredible Trail

On the southeast corner of Maui, the Pipiwai trail hike is one of the most varied and interesting hikes on the island. The Pipiwai trail hike leads you past multiple waterfalls, past a massive banyan tree and through a gorgeous bamboo forest. This trail is within Haleakala National Park and there is a parking fee.

We hiked the Pipiwai Trail Maui on our recent visit to the island and enjoyed stretching our legs after driving the beautiful Road to Hana. While we loved the massive tree and waterfalls, in our opinion, the best part of this hike is the bamboo forest. Walking through the massive forest of bamboo on trails and boardwalks is truly incredible and we spent a while lingering in this part of the trail.

In this article you will find general information about how to get to the Pipiwai Trail, Pipiwai Trail parking, general Pipiwai Trail directions, and more.

You will also see the Pipiwai Trail called the Bamboo Forest Hike.

Pipiwai Trail Hike and the Bamboo Forest Maui
Pipiwai Trail Hike and the Bamboo Forest Maui

Quick Look at the the Pipiwai Trail Hike and the Bamboo Forest

Distance: 3.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Difficulty: moderate

This is a popular trail with relatively easy trail conditions. The trail is easy to follow, well marked and generally easy walking although we do recommend hiking the Pipwai trail with hiking boots or sneakers. The trail surface is a combination of bridges, boardwalks, packed earth and more.

While the trail conditions are easy, the hike does ascend steeps almost 1,000 feet over 2 miles. There is no steep section and the elevation gain is spread out over the full 2 miles. The first part of the hike passes through a pretty forest and past some waterfalls. The first interesting site is the large banyan tree. Shortly after this the trail crosses a bridge and enters a bamboo forest. Enjoy the walk through the Maui bamboo forest before reaching the beautiful Waimoku Falls at the end of the hike. Turn around and retrace your steps.

You can read a full description of the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls at the end of this post.

Bamboo forest hike Road to Hana
Bamboo forest hike Road to Hana
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General information about the Pipiwai Trail Hike and Bamboo Forest Hike Maui

The Pipiwai Trail is an interesting hiking trail that winds its way through the enchanting landscapes of the Haleakala National Park. The trail stretches approximately 4 miles round trip and is considered one of the most popular and rewarding hikes in Maui.

The Pipiwai Trail holds cultural and historical significance as it traverses through an area once used by the ancient Hawaiian people. The trail follows an old footpath that was traditionally used by locals to access the various resources found in the area, such as fresh water and food sources. Exploring the trail gives hikers a sense of connection to the land and its rich history.

Highlighting the Natural Features and Attractions Along the Hike

  1. Banyan Tree: The hike begins with a remarkable banyan tree near the trailhead. This massive tree, with its sprawling aerial roots and intricate network of branches, creates a captivating sight and sets the tone for the rest of the hike.
Banyan Tree on the Pipiwai Trail Hike
  1. Bamboo Forest: One of the highlights of the Pipiwai Trail is the enchanting Bamboo Forest. As hikers venture deeper into the trail, they find themselves immersed in a dense grove of towering bamboo stalks that create a surreal and tranquil atmosphere. The gentle swaying of the bamboo in the breeze adds to the mystical ambiance, making it a truly awe-inspiring experience. This was our favorite part of the hike.
Bamboo Rorest Road to Hana
Bamboo Rorest Road to Hana
  1. Waterfalls: There are several waterfall along this hike in addition to the final Waimoku Falls. The other major waterfall along the trail is Makahiku Falls.

Makahiku Falls: As the trail continues, hikers are rewarded with the spectacular Makahiku Falls. This towering waterfall cascades down a moss-covered cliff, plunging into a serene pool below. The sight and sound of the rushing water create a peaceful and rejuvenating ambiance.

Waimoku Falls: The pinnacle of the Pipiwai Trail hike is the majestic Waimoku Falls. This waterfall stands at an impressive height of 400 feet and is a sight to behold. Surrounded by lush greenery, Waimoku Falls is a mesmerizing natural wonder that captivates visitors with its sheer beauty and power.

Waimoku Falls on the Pipiwai Trail Hike
Waimoku Falls on the Pipiwai Trail Hike

Safety of the Pipiwai Trail Hike

It’s important to follow posted signs and warning along this trail. There are several areas with significant drop offs along the trail and some of these are hidden by foliage. In addition, flash floods can cause dangerous conditions along the trail. You can see any closures or updates about the Pipiwai Trail on the National Park Service Page or ask at the small information station right in the parking lot.

Map of the Pipiwai Trail Hike

Pipiwai Trail Hike
Pipiwai Trail Hike

Things to Know About the Pipiwai Trail Hike

How to Get to the Pipiwai Trail and Pipiwai Trail Parking Lot

The trailhead for Pipiwai is located within the Haleakala National Park, specifically in the Kipahulu District. To access the trail, one must drive along the Hana Highway (also known as Highway 360) until reaching the town of Hana. From Hana, continue driving east for about 10 miles until reaching the entrance to Haleakala National Park’s Kipahulu District. Note that the road to Hana takes a lot longer to drive than you might expect, so be prepared to slow and windy roads.

After entering the park, follow the signs for the Pipiwai Trail and park in the designated parking lot. It’s advisable to arrive early in the day to secure a parking spot, as the trail can get quite busy, especially during peak tourist seasons. The Pipiwai Trail parking lot is quite large with generally enough parking although there are also other Haleakala National Park waterfalls nearby and many cars park here for those hikes.

Fee for Hiking the Pipiwai Trail

Since the Pipiwai Trail Hike is in Haleakala National Park you will need to pay the park fee to hike the trail. You can also use your America’s Park Pass.

Best Time to Visit the Pipiwai Trail

The Pipiwai Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails on Maui and the Road to Hana bamboo forest is one of the best stops along this route. Due to its popularity and location on the far end of the Road to Hana the trail can be crowded, especially in the middle of the day. The best time to hike the Pipiwai Trail is early in the morning or late in the day when the day is slightly cooler and there are less people.

What to Pack and Wear on the Pipiwai Trail/Bamboo Forest

While the trail is generally easy walking, we recommend hiking in boots or sneakers. In addition, it’s best to hike with layers and a raincoat as the weather can change at any time. There is some shade along the hike, but you should still wear sunscreen and a hat.

For a list of complete hiking gear for a day hike, check out: 15 Day Hike Essentials: Exactly What to Pack for Day Hiking

Complete Description of the Pipiwai Trail Hike

We did the Pipiwai Trail hike during our drive around the Road to Hana. We arrived at the trailhead around 2:30 after visiting Waianapanapa State Park and the parking lot was about 3/4 full. Since our son wasn’t feeling well and we were hoping to finish the hike and drive back to our resort in time for dinner, we decided to hike this trail quickly and even ran a few sections. You should plan between 2-4 hours for this hike.

From the parking lot, walk down to the visitor center and follow trail signs for the Pipiwai Trail. You will see a split in the trail where the trail for the 7 Sacred Pools goes to the right – turn left for the Pipiwai Trail.

The out and back trail starts with a series of stairs and then levels out through a pretty forested area. After a bit of a steep climb (0.5 miles), you will reach Makahiku Falls. This is a lovely 200 foot waterfall.

Pipiwai Trail Hike

The next interested site along the trail is the amazing banyan tree. You can walk right around the base of this large tree and see the expanding branches branches. After taking some time to enjoy the tree, continue along the trail. This part of the trail is less steep.

Eventually you will cross a series of bridges and enter the bamboo forest. This is the coolest part of the hike as you can walk directly through the towering bamboo.

Crossing the Bridge on the Pipiwai Trail into the Bamboo Forest
Maui Bamboo Forest on the Pipiwai Trail
Maui Bamboo Forest on the Pipiwai Trail

The walk through the bamboo forest lasts about 0.5 miles and includes a dirt path, stairs and a boardwalk. After you leave the bamboo forest you are very close to the final waterfall. The final part of the trail has a few sets of stairs and bridges and you will be rewarded with view of Waimoku Falls. This waterfall is lovely and drop 400 feet to the river below.

Once you’ve enjoyed the view of the waterfall, retrace your steps back down the Pipiwai Trail.

Other Sites and Things to do Near the Pipiwai Trail Hike

If you are making the drive out to the Pipiwai Trail hike, it’s worth visiting some of the other nearby sites. There are also a few other tremendous hikes and things to do in Haleakala National Park. Below you can find some of the best stops and hikes near the Pipiwai Trail:

Pipiwai Trail Hike and Bamboo Forest Maui
Pipiwai Trail Hike and Bamboo Forest Maui

Common Questions About the Pipiwai Trail Hike

How long is the Pipiwai Trail and how much time should I allocate for the hike?

The Pipiwai Trail is approximately 4 miles round trip. It’s recommended to allocate around 2-3 hours for the hike, depending on your pace and how long you want to spend at various attractions along the trail.

What are the main attractions along the Pipiwai Trail?

The Pipiwai Trail boasts several remarkable attractions, including a stunning banyan tree near the trailhead, a captivating Bamboo Forest that creates a surreal atmosphere, and two breathtaking waterfalls: Makahiku Falls and Waimoku Falls. These natural wonders offer scenic beauty and photo opportunities throughout the hike.

Is the Pipiwai Trail suitable for all fitness levels?

While the Pipiwai Trail is considered moderately difficult, it can be enjoyed by hikers of varying fitness levels. The trail has some uphill sections, uneven terrain, and stairs, which may require moderate physical exertion. Taking breaks, staying hydrated, and hiking at a comfortable pace will ensure an enjoyable experience for most hikers. Since this is an out and back trail with many sites, you can also hike just a portion of the trail. If you hike out to the start of the bamboo Forest you will also see one of the waterfalls and the banyan tree. This hike is about 2 miles if you just hike out to the bamboo forest.

What should I bring for the Pipiwai Trail hike?

Essential items to bring include sturdy and comfortable footwear, sun protection (hat, sunscreen), sufficient water, snacks or a light meal, and a camera/phone to capture the stunning scenery. It’s also a good idea to pack a lightweight rain jacket in case of unexpected weather changes.

Pipiwai Trail Hike and Bamboo Forest Maui
Pipiwai Trail Hike and Bamboo Forest Maui

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