Hiking the Waihe’e Crest Trail

On November 15, Trisha and I took an exciting and strenuous hike on Maui: The Waihe’e Crest Trail.

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Most hikes in Hawaii are rewarding and exciting, and this is no exception. It’s 2.5 miles straight uphill. At the end you turn around and come back down. The uphill part is a serious cardiovascular workout. The downhill is a slip and slide adventure.

First you  have to find the trailhead. As is typical for finding hikes in Hawaii, no matter how well advertised a hike may be in a book, if you miss some minor and critical detail of the description on how to get to the trail, you can miss the entire thing. This holds true with the Waihe’e Crest Trail.

Go north on Highway 340 out of Kahului until you get to the Waihe’e Elementary School and clock exactly 2.5 miles.

You will see the Mendes Ranch gates in front of you (red arrow). This is a major gate and you can’t miss it. Look to your left and you will see a small road leading up the mountain toward the boy scout camp (green arrow). Take that road. You can’t miss the parking lot,  and once there, the trail is well signed.

The trail initially starts on a steep little concrete road, and you’ll feel like you’re being weeded out. You will hate the trail from the first two minutes on. It’s a very strenuous and steep climb. At the end of the concrete path the woods start. It’s very wet. I wished I had brought my poles, not so much for the way up, as for the way back down. I fell five times, my boots simply slipping out from under me. Fortunately I didn’t hurt my wrists seriously.

Looking back down over my left shoulder I often had a great view of  the bay north of Maui. At the tip of the bay is Kahului, the main city on the island and its airport. In the background the massive, 10,000 foot Haleakala volcano.

In the lower section, the trail goes through woods.

Dueling cameras. Are we there yet?

Like most hikes in Hawaii, this one goes through lush jungle and impenetrable weeds. Without a trail there would be no way to get there. Since it is a ridge trail, sometimes you can look down on both sides hundreds of feet. Do not slip here, I kept telling myself.

To the left and forward are the peaks of the East Maui mountains, always shrouded in mist.

Spectacular views and dramatic ridges characterize this trail. Here is a gate through a barbed-wire fence to keep cattle, with a tight squeeze for hikers to get through.

It seems like it never ends, even though it’s only 2.5 miles one way, and then suddenly you are there. The end of the trail is almost anticlimactic. There is a picnic table, and no way to go further in any direction. A sign warns “end of trail” and looking on confirms to me that it’s wise to turn around at this point, lest we will never be seen again.

The Waihe’e Crest Trail is a great day hike on Maui that I highly recommend.

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