If the Pipiwai Trail’s mystical bamboo forest and scenic waterfalls don’t get your heart pumping, the hike’s 800-foot elevation gain certainly will. Here’s what you need to know before you set off on this bewitching trail on the east side of the island.
About the Pipiwai Trail
One of the most popular stops for Road to Hana voyagers, the well-traveled Pipiwai trail boasts more than being the most accessible-to-the-public bamboo forest on Maui. Along with the lush rainforest, hikers on this 4-mile out-and-back path encounter a towering banyan tree. To cap off the hiking adventure, Pipiwai Trail’s turnaround point is marked by the roar of an awe-inspiring waterfall.
Located on the Kipahulu side of Haleakala National Park, you don’t need a reservation to hike Pipiwai Trail like you do at Waianapanapa State Park. There is, however, a park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, unless you’re an annual passholder.
Give yourself at least two hours to conquer the trail if you’re planning to hike beyond the bamboo forest and marvel at Waimoku Falls (which we heartily recommend!).
Hiking distance to the bamboo forest: 1 mile from the trailhead, or 2 miles round trip
Hiking distance for the entire Pipiwai Trail: 2 miles from the trailhead, or 4 miles round trip
Location: Mile Marker 41, Hana Hwy, Hana, HI 96713
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Entry gate closes at 4:30 p.m.
This isn’t the “other” bamboo forest on Maui’s Road to Hana
There’s another bamboo forest on Maui that visitors have flocked to in the past — the infamous Na’ili’ili Haele. Other guidebooks and sites promote this unofficial bamboo forest and waterfall hike, but we warn you: East Maui Irrigation reportedly owns this private land and prohibits public access. Too many hikers have been swept away or trapped by flash floods.
When on Maui, we encourage you to respect the land and hike the island only on public trails.
Looking for the best places to hike on Maui? Check out 6 JAW-DROPPING MAUI TRAILS FOR EPIC NATURE HIKES.
How to get to the bamboo forest at Pipiwai Trail
Start near the Kipahulu visitor center, a brown building near the parking lot overlooking the water. Facing the visitor center, follow the foot path that leads left and between the trees.
At the fork, veer left at the Hale Hālāwai, an open air meeting house originally erected by National Park Service staff in 2010. Continue on the path until it reaches Hana Highway. Cross the road and continue on the trail, which is marked by a wooden sign. You’ll encounter stone steps and a moderate incline for the first mile. Luckily, a canopy of trees shades you from the sun’s rays.
Continue hiking the unpaved trail that is primarily a dirt and rock path. Watch your step for protruding tree roots.
At around half a mile, stop at the viewing area to admire the 200-foot Falls of Makahiku.
Just a few minutes walk past the Falls at Makahiku, the forest opens to a clearing to reveal a stunning banyan tree. Filtered sunlight flickers through the leaves as the tree stretches and twists its branches in every direction from its sinewy, ancient-looking trunk.
Stop for a few moments (or more) to behold the banyan tree’s beauty before continuing past, on the trail toward the bamboo forest.
At slightly under a half mile from the banyan tree, cross a footbridge over the Pipiwai stream.
On the other side of the bridge, a dim clearing awaits under a forest canopy. At this point in the hike, you’ve reached the bamboo forest at the Pipiwai Trail.
Continue on the path (and up more stairs before the terrain levels out) to immerse yourself in the bamboo forest. Farther along the trail, around another mile, reach the trail’s turnaround point at Waimoku Falls.
What to bring
Before you tackle the trail, we recommend that you bring these essentials when hiking Pipiwai:
Closed toe shoes. Outdoorsy folk can probably get away with hiking this trail in sturdy sandals. But large roots and loose rocks along the path could give your toes some bumps, bruises, and cuts. Not to mention the mud after a rainfall (and it rains frequently on this part of the island!).
For the best experience, we recommend closed toe hiking shoes. Or, at the very least, a change of shoes or sandals in case it gets muddy out there.
Water. You’re going to work up a sweat from either the humidity or elevation gain — especially if you aren’t as in shape as you’d like to be. Stay hydrated.
Hat. Yes, the trail has plenty of shade. But there are sections where the sun beats down, and you’ll be happy to have your own personal shade when that happens.
Towel. Did we mention that this hike lies in a rainforest? As in rainfall. The fickle weather can switch from sunny and clear to a torrential downpour in moments. Keep a towel in the car to dry off if that happens.
Bug repellent. Some people (ahem, such as yours truly) seem to attract every biting bug in the vicinity. You’re sure to encounter some pesky pests during this hike. Let bug repellent be your friend. I’ve had pretty good luck using an all-natural repellent with lavender essential oil.
Parking at the Pipiwai Trail
Parking is included in your entrance fee at the Kipahulu side of Haleakala National Park. The park ranger at the entrance will direct you to the parking lot near the visitor center.
Map of the Pipiwai Trail
Things to do near the Pipiwai Trail bamboo forest hike
ʻOheʻo Gulch / Seven Sacred Pools
Waterfalls feed into a series of tiered pools that feed into the ocean for an astounding vista view. The best part? It’s only a short walk from the Pipiwai trailhead.
While you can stand on the vista overlooking Oheo Gulch, the pools themselves are closed (as of this writing in 2022) to swimmers because of incidents, including fatalities, at the famous tourist attraction.
Location: Facing the Kipahulu Visitor Center, take the walking path leading left into the trees. At the junction that connects to the Pipiwai Trail, veer right and follow the path for five minutes to reach the Oheo Gulch vista point.
Just a short drive from the Kipahulu visitor entrance, Wailua Falls is one of the easiest falls to access when driving along Hana Highway. Stop for a quick selfie on the bridge (taking care to avoid oncoming traffic, of course) or walk toward the base of the falls for a closer look. Just mind your step — it gets slippery.
Location: Approximately 3 miles north of the Kipahulu Visitor Center along the Hana Highway.
For other spots to visit along the Road to Hana, check out 18 BEST ROAD TO HANA STOPS FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE VACATION | INSIDER TIPS, MAP & PHOTOS
Places to eat near Pipiwai Trail
There aren’t any restaurants or sundry shops in the Haleakala National Park on the Kipahulu side. Head toward Hana town for a meal, or continue on Hana Highway (away from Hana) for a snack at a local fruit stand. Open hours may vary.
Maui coffee grown on site, tea, fresh fruit, farm popcorn, coconut water, and gifts.
40755 Hana Highway, Hana, HI 96713
Huli Huli Chicken at Koki Beach
Lunch plates with chicken and ribs overlooking the water.
175 Haneoo Road, Hana, HI 96713
Food truck park at Hana
Tacos, Thai food, poke, kebabs, and more in one stop.
5124 Hana Highway, Hana, HI 96713
Where to stay nearby
Too tired to drive back to your West Maui or South Maui resort? Slow things down with an overnight in or around Hana to truly experience this side of the island.
Get a jump on the crowds by camping a few hundred feet from Pipiwai Trail. Reservations required.
Location: 1/8th of a mile south of the Kipahulu Visitor Center
Hana-Maui Resort by Hyatt
Enjoy the charms of Hana at this upscale oasis nestled along the Hana Highway.
Location: 5031 Hana Highway, Hana, HI 96713
Hana Ocean Palms Bungalow (private vacation rental)
This charming bungalow lies just eight miles from the Kipahulu side of Haleakala National Park.
Location: 6890 Hana Highway, Hana, HI 96713