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Maui Hawaii – Hiking Waiheíe Valley

We are excited to publish this article from Hawaii’s Hiking Expert Erik Blair. He is the Director of MauiHikes.org and  has been all over the islands.  Now lets turn it over to Eric:

There’s more to explore on Maui then the beach.  Hawaii is home to a large number of tropical plants, remote waterfalls, rare birds, hidden valleys and misty mountains.  So let’s explore one of my favorite hikes, Waihe’e Valley, otherwise known as, “Swinging Bridges” on the island of Maui.

The Waiheíe Valley is a narrow, stream-fed canyon with extreme vertical walls that trail through grassy, tropical rainforests.  Folks, this hikes is beautiful!  Don’t let the beginning of the hike trail deter your enthusiasm for this trek. You start your hike following a partially overgrown dirt road thatís scattered with rocks. It is mainly a four-wheel-drive type of road. As you follow the slightly upward incline of the road, you will most likely start to hear the water flowing through the irrigation ditches. Soon after this the ditches will appear alongside the trail. Shortly thereafter you will be able to smell the sweet Guava trees along with Thimbleberry and ti plants that start to line the roadway. Colorful, wild Ginger plants that bloom in an array of colors are usually in the mix of plants to be seen here.

Halfway through the hike you’ll reach the stones piled up as steps for you to climb onto the first cable bridge. Be brave! The bridge will bounce as you move across and sway a bit too. This is the fun of the “swinging bridges”.  Below you is the Waiheíe river bed. It’s usually dry depending on where the irrigation water is being diverted.  After a short stroll through a bamboo forest you’ll emerge among Eucalyptus trees and the second bridge will welcome you across the gentle stream below.  When you’re safely across the second bridge, you’ll walk into a temporary jungle filled with large, towering bamboo plants.  Soon after crossing the second bridge, you will come to the first swimming area ñ a deep-looking pool of calm water surrounded by rocks and covered with decorative green fern and a few Banyan tree-covered   rocks. Many local families swim in this area, and a lot people think this is the end of the trail.  It’s definitely not because the best is yet to come!

After the crossing the stream the trail becomes narrow and passes several vertical drop-offs and eventually clears when yopu reach the actual end of the trail at a man-made dam. The swimming hole below the dam is deeper and somewhat bigger.  Beyond the dam and just upstream, there’s a protected watershed area with no trespassing.  This is your chance to enjoy a refreshing swim and picnic before you return along the same path back to your car.

This is Maui’s wild side, so respect the “Aina” and practice “Aloha” whenever you’re wandering around these trails, and most importantly, have fun!

Directions to Trailhead: Take Highway 330 northeast out of Wailuku. Travel hwy 330 until it converts to hwy 340 (north) at mile marker 2. Just before mile marker 5, turn left. You are now on Waiheíe Valley Road. Slowly travel about half a mile through the neighborhood to the gated entrance and stop at the small kiosk to pay a small fee. Park on the right before the pavement ends and walk up the road to reach the trail head.

What to bring: Water, snacks, camera, swimsuits ( or not), hiking boots, Teva’s or walking shoes with grip soles, and mosquito repellent.  Sometimes wet weather gear is recommended.

Tips & Advice: Plan on wading through water, small streams, or muddy areas. If it has rained recently, you should consider the potential dangers of being in or near any waterfalls, rivers, or canals. Be cautious as water levels can rise rapidly without warning.  Trail is private property. You must sign a release of liability and pay a fee.

By Erik Blair, Director of MauiHikes.org, a free hiking club on Maui, and author of “Best Maui Hikes” a guide to Maui’s Top Hiking Trails.

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