During out last trip to Maui, we decided to take on the Kahakapao Loop Trail. It’s definitely not the most scenic hike on Maui, but it’s worth doing. Round trip this hike is 5.75 miles and has an elevation gain of 975 feet. It’s considered a moderate hike.
How to get there
The road to get there is a little tricky to find. From Makawao Avenue east of Makawao town, turn right onto Pi’iholo Road (Hwy. 394). Keep driving for 1.5 miles and veer left on Waiohiwi Road. Dive 0.5 mile and turn right onto Kahakapao Road. Drive to the end of Kahakapao Road. You’ll pass a gate along the way that is open from 7am to 7pm. Keep driving until you arrive at the parking lot. It will be on your right.
Just a warning, the last section of road is steep and narrow, but any vehicle can make it to the trailhead. Drive slow and watch for oncoming traffic.
What to Expect
Once you arrive, there is a fairly large parking lot with some portable toilets but no other services. The start of the trail is 1/2 mile from the parking lot.
As you will see, not only is there a hiking trail, but there are also mountain biking trails. To be safe, stay on the dedicated pedestrian trails and keep your eyes and ears open for the bikers.
Once you get to the trailhead, it doesn’t matter which direction you decide to go, since it’s a loop. We decided on going clockwise and believe that it was the right choice as we did get past the muddiest sections at the start of the hike. Regardless of your choice, you will be going uphill for the first portion of the hike and downhill on the way back.
Since this hike is mostly in the forest, it is fairly shaded which helps keep it a bit cooler. The trail itself is pretty well maintained and pretty good signage.
The trail wasn’t really busy when we were there. As with everything we do, we were there very early, but we only came across a handful of people.
In the News
In recent weeks, the Kahakapao Loop Trail has been in the news. A woman hiking in the area was missing for over two weeks. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. After 17 days, she was found alive and mostly well. Click here to read about it.
Don’t let an incident like that deter you from going. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and your cell phone.
You will be hiking at about 4000’ above sea level so it will be much cooler than down at the beach so dress for that. Also, it does rain a lot, so probably best to pack a light rain jacket, just in case. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bug spray either!
Finally, if you are looking for something a little more challenging, and with incredible view, check out the Waihee Ridge Trail.
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