Makahiku Falls, Hawaii

Makahiku Falls in March 2012

On the southeastern side of Maui, there are a significant number of waterfalls, and many of them are found in Haleakala National Park. The main attraction is Waimoku Falls, which is over 400′ tall. The hike to Waimoku Falls is extremely enjoyable, and along the way you encounter other waterfalls. In a separate place, some of them would get their own names, though they don’t here because of their neighbor. One waterfall, though, does have a name, and it is Makahiku Falls.

Makahiku Falls is tall, though not as tall as Waimoku Falls. It is actually much wider than Waimoku Falls. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed by the falls, and yet be somewhat disappointed. As you might be able to tell in the picture, it is rather difficult to capture the whole of Waimoku Falls. There are a number of trees and shrubs blocking the view. The shape of the cliffs also seem to obscure the base of the falls. If I remember correctly, I tried to find a different vantage point from the trail that led to a better shot, but couldn’t find that spot. So in the end, I settled for most of the falls. If you’ve come this far, though, you shouldn’t be deterred from seeking out Makahiku Falls!

Directions:

  1. From Hana, head south along the Highway to Hana.  Be careful, but there really isn’t any other option!
  2. Pull into the visitor’s center parking lot for Haleakala National Park.  Pay the fee, and then follow the signs to Waimoku Falls. It is about one-quarter of the way to Waimoku Falls, or somewhere in that range.

Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Height: 185′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip to Makahiku Falls, 4 miles round-trip to Waimoku Falls

Where in the World is Makahiku Falls?

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Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Hawaii

On the southeast side of Maui in Haleakala National Park, there are a number of impressive waterfalls along Pipiwai Stream. The main attraction is Waimoku Falls (towering at 400′), though that does require a hike. I’m not sure if I would drive along the narrow roads to this portion of the park without visiting Waimoku Falls, but if you don’t wish to hike, the Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch are your best option. They are also known as the Seven Sacred Pools.

After parking, instead of heading toward Waimoku Falls, head east along a different trail. After just a very short distance, you’ll arrive at the Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch. They are nowhere near as tall, but the scenery is still breathtaking. The intense greens pop out on both sides of the river. The bridge above the one falls is the road that you just drove over a few minutes before. If you head a little south, you’ll also get spectacular views of the ocean.

I should mention many people head to the falls to swim in them. On this specific day in early March, though, the water levels were too high to swim safely. If swimming in the pools is your main goal, I would suggest calling ahead so you’re not disappointed.

Directions:

  1. From Hana, head south along the Highway to Hana. Be careful, but there really isn’t any other option!
  2. Pull into the visitor’s center parking lot for Haleakala National Park. Pay the fee, and then follow the signs to Seven Sacred Pools/’Ohe’o Gulch.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: ~30′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

The falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch in March 2012

Where in the World is the Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch?

Waimoku Falls, Hawaii

Waimoku Falls in March 2012

Waimoku Falls is definitely worth a stop, if you can get there!  As I mentioned in a previous post about one of the falls far downstream on Pipiwai Stream, it is not a simple drive to get to the southern portion of Haleakala National Park, where you can access Waimoku Falls.

Once you get there, though, and then hike the 2 miles to the falls, you’ll be rewarded with one of the taller waterfalls on Maui.  At a 400′ drop, it is pretty impressive!  The hike to the falls is really not that difficult.  It is uphill most of the way, but the scenery is spectacular, there are a number of other falls along the way, and is not particularly strenuous.  Even though there’s an elevation gain, it’s spread out over the 2 miles.  I have to admit, though, that the falls themselves are deceptive. It’s really hard to grasp their height, especially in the photograph.

Near the main falls, there are a number of other wispier falls.  Since it’s very rainy in the area, you’ll likely see those most of the year.  It wasn’t extremely rainy when I visited, but the mist from the falls kept blurring my glasses and the camera lens.  You could try getting even closer to the falls, but the mist might overwhelm you! 🙂

Directions:

  1. From Hana, head south along the Highway to Hana.  Be careful, but there really isn’t any other option!
  2. Pull into the visitor’s center parking lot for Haleakala National Park.  Pay the fee, and then follow the signs to Waimoku Falls.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/difficult)
Height: 400′
Length of Hike: 3.2 miles round-trip

A waterfall near Waimoku Falls

Where in the World is Waimoku Falls?

Falls on Pipiwai Stream #1, Hawaii

The hike to the Falls on Pipiwai Stream (and Waimoku Falls further upstream) is not really difficult. It’s getting to the point where you can hike in the first place that poses the real challenge…And it’s an intense one.

Haleakala National Park has a number of distinct regions. The more widely known region encompasses Mount Haleakala and its set of adventures. Though still connected to the park, the portion of the park on the southeastern shore of Maui has a distinctly different feel, and it’s not exactly simple to get to. There are two options, really…one on the Highway to Hana, and the other heading south from Kahului. Most people don’t seem to suggest taking the second option, and the first option on the Highway to Hana is breathtaking (in more ways than one). (Check out my post on Lower Waikamoi Falls to get my feelings about the first portion of the Highway to Hana.)
I stayed in Hana for the night, and then headed south toward the park. The road seems to get narrower…and narrower…and narrower. There were portions of the road where you couldn’t even sense what was in front of you, and you hope that no one else is speeding along these very winding curves. If the first portion of the Highway to Hana scared you, do not proceed! This portion of the road is not nearly as well signed, and the inherent danger level is higher. It’s not impossible though!  (I drove on roads in Puerto Rico where I feared for my life more than here.) And it doesn’t hurt that the drive is spectacularly beautiful.
You’ll be headed toward the parking area for O’heo Gulch and the Pipiwai Trail, which leads to Waimoku Falls at its end. There is an entrance fee, though it is well worth it, and you can visit the whole park for a number of days. The hike starts by crossing the Highway to Hana, and continues uphill, though at a very modest pace. You’ll pass by Makahiku Falls. Continue along to find this falls. If the Pipiwai Stream is flowing, you’ll hear it pretty clearly, and by following the well-worn trails, you’ll likely be able to find the falls here. They are not named, nor are they marked, but by paying attention, you’ll notice a side trail leading downhill. It’s not really dangerous, and the scenery is amazing…Continue along, though…You haven’t arrived at the main attraction yet.
Directions:
  1. From Hana, head south along the Highway to Hana. Be careful, but there really isn’t any other option!
  2. Pull into the visitor’s center parking lot for Haleakala National Park. Pay the fee, and then follow the signs to Waimoku Falls.
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 1.5 miles round-trip (3 miles to Waimoku Falls)

This is one of the falls on Pipiwai Stream in March 2012

Where in the World is the Falls on Pipiwai Stream?