The Waihee Ridge Trail is a heavily trafficked A to B trail near Wailuku, Maui. The distance is just about 4 miles, with a beautiful waterfall to marvel at, making all the extra effort worthwhile.
This trail is mainly used by hikers and runners, and it has become a popular spot for tourists over the years, too. The trail is rated difficult; however, so it’s not for the faint of heart! But how difficult is it, really? Let’s look into just how difficult the Waihee Ridge Trail is so that you feel prepared for your next adventure to Maui.
Waihee Ridge Trail’s Difficulty Rating
The Waihee Ridge Trail has been described as a difficult out and back trail, lasting 4 miles in length (about 6.4 kilometers) with an elevation gain of 1,1611 feet (about 491 meters).
You can expect to be met by clean switch-backs and stairs broken up by stretches of flat terrain. Due to being on the windward side of the Hawaiian islands, the weather tends to be slightly wetter and therefore can make the trail quite muddy.
But most of the paths will be dirt and stone, making them suitable for runners and walkers.
What To Expect on Waihee Ridge Trail
Waihee translates to ‘slippery water’ from Hawaiian, and this is an incredibly apt description of the trail. Over 400 inches of rain falls each year over the area, making it a rather muddy excursion.
The Waihee Ridge Trail takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete, although the mud might slow you down.
While enjoying this trail, you’ll see that this is otherwise a clean and well-maintained walk. The paths are lined with guava trees, wild orchids, and fern plants.
Lanilili Peak is found on the trail as well, which is a great spot to view Waihee Valley, Makamakaole Falls, and Haleakala from. Lanilili Peak means ‘small heaven’, which seems pretty accurate.
The paths are lined with benches for pit stops, and there are picnic tables near the end of the trail. However, you won’t know if these are free until you get there. There are porta potties at the trailhead, too.
You’ll also encounter many species of bird here, some which cannot be found anywhere else in the world! Any photo that you’ve seen of the Waihee Ridge Trail does not do it justice. You’ll have to visit yourself to take in just how spectacular this trail is.
Getting To Waihee Ridge Trail
Google Maps has the correct location of the Waihee Ridge Trail’s parking lot, so you can use this to navigate your way to the trail. Once you park, there are clear signs to the trailhead. As Maui hikes go, this is one of the easier ones to locate!
There are two parking areas here, one main parking lot and one overflow lot. You’ll come to the overflow first, so keep driving towards the mountains to see if you can park in the main lot.
The main lot offers a good number of parking spots, although this trail is popular. Parking in the overflow is a viable option, although it might add a few miles onto the trail.
If you don’t want to add any length to your hike but the main lot is full, you can also wait for someone to leave. Unfortunately, you won’t know if you’ll be waiting five minutes or a lot longer.
How Far Is the Waihee Ridge Trail From Local Towns?
The Waihee Ridge Trail is just a 50-minute drive from the popular town of Lahaina, about 29.1 miles down the road.
It is even closer to Kahului, with a straight drive of just 8.6 miles or 21 minutes.
Best Time To Visit the Waihee Ridge Trail
The best time to visit this trail is during the summer months. This gives the sun a good chance of drying the mud so that it doesn’t interfere with your walk too much. Spring is also a good time to visit and might mean that the trail is slightly less busy.
In terms of the time of day, many people suggest visiting in the morning. The earlier you go, the more chances you’ll have of getting a parking spot. Plus, the trail is partially uncovered so you’ll need to expect sun exposure. Completing it early protects you from the harshest UV rays.
Some people are also disappointed that the clouds mask the views at the top of the trail, so arriving early (and on a clear day!) will hopefully protect you from the disappointment of only seeing hazy fog at the end of the trail rather than the magnificent views.
Are There Any Dangers on the Waihee Ridge Trail?
The only danger of the Waihee Ridge Trail is potential slipperiness when it has been raining. The mud can make the trail very slippery, making it more dangerous in parts. It’s advised that you don’t complete the trail while it’s raining or has experienced heavy rainfall in the last few days.
As this trail is rated difficult, it’s also not the best for families with young children. The terrain and elevation might be slightly too much for them.
Preparing For the Waihee Ridge Trail
Due to the possibility of slippery paths, you should wear shoes with a good amount of tread on the soles. Hiking boots or off-road running shoes should work well here. You’ll need a backpack with all your supplies, such as a first aid kit, sunglasses, cell phone, water bottle, and snacks.
A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen should all be brought with you, too. You might also want to bring a lightweight rain jacket just in case the weather changes!
Even with hiking books, exercise caution, as you can still slip. If you’re visiting while it’s raining or has been, you might want to consider taking some trekking poles along to help.
As there are plenty of bird species to look for along the Waihee Ridge Trail, you might also want to bring some binoculars and a nature camera.
Things People Like Most About the Waihee Ridge Trail
If you look at the reviews of the Waihee Ridge Trail, you’ll see that everyone loves how scenic and beautiful the views are. Not just when you get to the end of the trail, either, but the entire way along the path!
You should allow plenty of time to take in these gorgeous views so that you’re not rushing them. The main difficulty of the trail comes from the elevation of the trail, so make sure that your legs are up for a climb!
Visitors also liked how well-kept the trail is. Everything seems pruned and looked after, which greatly improves your experience there.
Things People Like Least About the Waihee Ridge Trail
Unfortunately, there are a few things that people don’t like so much about the Waihee Ridge Trail. For starters, the parking lot is not large enough for how popular the location is. Having to park in the overflow lot adds even more distance to your hike which can be difficult for some people.
Secondly, there are not enough amenities to be shared by everyone in particularly busy periods. There are limited numbers of porta potties and picnic benches for guests, and you might find it difficult to find somewhere to sit.
The slipperiness of the trail also poses challenges for people, but this is dependent on the weather conditions. People do slip despite wearing the correct footwear, so be careful!
If you’re up for a challenge, then hiking the Waihee Ridge Trail is worth it! You’ll love the one-of-a-kind stunning views and sense of adventure. Just be sure to take note of the weather and be prepared with all the right equipment.