Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hiking the Lahaina Pali Trail: Maui

Nearing the top of the Lahaina Pali Trail
Hiking up from Ukemehame
   There are not too many hikes on the dry side of Maui between Lahaina and Kihei. The only option is a dry, rocky climb up the Pali cliffs towards the line of windmills. This is called the Lahaina Pali trail. It is a 1,600ft climb up from sea level with no shade but beautiful panoramas of Maalaea Bay and the central valley. There are two entrances to the hike, one just across from the shops at Maalaea Harbor and the other across from Ukumehame Beach Park. If you only have one car and plan to go up to the windmills and back I would suggest starting at the Ukumehame entrance. Both ways are exposed to the sun with little shade so hiking early in the morning or later in the afternoon is usually the way to go. However you do occasionally get some cloud cover which makes the hike doable all day.

  This was my third time up the Lahaina Pali trail and every time I have done it differently. I had hiked up and down from Maalaea, all the way from Ukumehame, and this time up and down from Ukumehame. My friends Ben and Kim and I decided to tackle this hike midday only because there was a gale blowing in from the northeast. While this made balancing on various rocks a bit difficult it did keep the temperature bearable. It was a 'hold on to your hat' kinda hike.

Looking like Fiji after a wet December
Waia Lailai in Fiji
  What really blew me away though was not the wind, but how beautiful and lush the area looked after a very rainy December. There were parts of the trail with a sea of green grass blowing in the wind with huge rocks being hit with the afternoon sun and white capped water beyond. It reminded me of another island scene I've seen on a hike in Fiji. Usually this part of Maui is very dry, brown, yellow, and dusty. Winter time can bring in rains to the dry sides of the Hawaiian Islands making this a great time for photos on the Pali hike.

Kaheawa Wind Farm and Haleakala
Pumped to be at the top, in my slippaz
  Winter also means a chance to see whales on your hike. Just make sure you keep an eye on the shifting rocks that you are stepping on so you don't turn an ankle. The whales are notorious for distracting new hikers and drivers on the island during the winter months. With a bit of sure footing you will make up the 2.5 miles to the Kaheawa Wind Farm that will channel your inner Don Quixote. Massive GE build wind turbines line the ridge line here. Some people claim them to be an eye sore but for me living on this isolated island in the middle of the ocean I feel that we can use all the renewable energy we can get.

  From 1,600ft up the view of the central valley and the massive Haleakala volcano open up into beautiful panorama vistas. Catching this hike in the late afternoon setting sun is your best bet for dramatic photos.

  While the Lahaina Pali Trail is about your only hiking option on this side of the island, Maui has an immense amount of hikes in just about every environment you can think of. For the very adventurous there are the 'Big Three' hikes on the island...read about those here. If you are looking for some back country hiking on the wet, rainforesty side of Maui check out the private hiking options here.

14% of the island's energy needs met
One of many stunning panoramas on the Lahaina Pali Trail

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