The Lahaina Pali Trail is a rugged 5-mile hike (one-way) from Maalaea to Ukumehame (a point along the road to Lahaina). Both trailheads are near sea level and the trail gains about 1,600 feet in approximately 2.5 miles from both ends to the top of Kealaloloa Ridge (where the huge wind turbines are found). We hiked half the trail once before from Ukumehame to the top of Kealaloloa Ridge, which was quite the challenge especially since we were out of shape.
With a bit more hiking experience and us being in better physical condition, we decided to take on this rocky and strenuous trail during the weekend. This time around we were able to borrow a second car so we could hike the whole trail (which was a total of 5 miles). We started at the trailhead at Maalaea since we hiked the other side of the ridge once before. After viewing the informational plaques at the trailhead, we walked toward the mountain along the flat dirt path through a field of dry grass.
Not too long after the trail steepened, we were huffing and puffing. We were struggling up the mountain and stopped like 10 times! I laughed inside thinking ‘what did I get us into’. The hike up to the ridge was rocky, steep and hot! However, we were lucky to have the cool breezes and occasional cloud cover on the way up. To be honest, we were pretty miserable for more than half-way up the mountain – but the panoramic view of central Maui was stunning, which made our stops worth it.
As we climbed closer to the top, the switch backs became longer and flatter – which was much appreciated after feeling a bit delusional and very exhausted. We eventually could see the windmills in the distance and felt an immediate feeling of relief! We were almost there! We were so happy that we made it to the top alive! The panoramic views were amazing and the wind turbines are always awesome to see up close. We hung out at the top to take more photos and to cool off before heading downhill. The hike down was hot and humid, because it was almost noon and the sun was right above our heads. Unfortunately, there was little to no breeze – which was torture! The hike down was easy compared to the hike up the ridge; however, walking constantly downhill and hopping from rock to rock was hard on our feet and toes – which were very sore at the end of the trail. Not the mention, we were not wearing proper hiking shoes.
The views on the way down were nice and the water was beautiful! The water near the shore was clear – we could even see the reef from above! We also bumped into some people who said they went down the wrong path before heading up the trail. When we arrived at the paved path, we could see the wrong path the others had taken – but there was a large red arrow pointing toward the trail which was also marked with a sign. So, if you are hiking up from Ukumehame – remember to turn left up the cliff and follow the large red arrow and sign.
It took as about three hours to hike the 5-mile trail, but it felt like it took five hours. We both agreed that we would not hike this trail again any time soon, but we were happy to see the incredible panoramic views of central Maui and the ocean.
Where will we go next? I’m hoping to do more exploring around Kahakuloa! Until next time!