Waihe’e Ridge Trail – Maui, Hawaii
One of the most well rated hikes in Maui is the Waihe’e Ridge Trail for the challenging hike and the stunning views that are completely different than anything you see in Maui. It is a difficult 4 mile there and back with almost 1600 feet elevation gain through a series of switch backs. I wanted to make sure we had the best weather day to experience this so while I had it marked down to complete on our second day, the weather there was nothing by rain and the weather for today was sunny.
After spending all day on the water with the whales, I was looking forward to some time on land. The weather conditions were predicted to be significantly better than yesterday so we headed to the north west side of the island. The landscape changed as we made the left away from the airport and began transforming into a rainforest. Luckily, the rain part was not with us but it was just so lush – a complete opposite from the dessert conditions of the Lahaina Pali Trail.
We pulled into the parking lot and there was a listed advisory that the gates close at 7PM – we were starting around 4PM so if we hustled, we should be able to complete the trail before the close. As we got out of the car, it began to drizzle. I got the rain jackets out as a precaution – the weather was supposed to be sunny – and began the trail.
The few people we passed were all dry so the weather up until this point must have been good. As we began the climb, maybe a quarter mile in, it began to down pour. I looked at Kevin – how could this be? We continued on hoping that it would stop. At times the rain lessened to a light rain and then would pick back up to a deluge. We made it to a lookout and saw some breaking of the clouds – I cannot image what this view would look like on a clear day.
It was really stunning and I was happy to have even gotten this view with a small break in the rain. We continued on for about a mile when the trails became rivers – what were we doing this for now? There would be no view to reward us and now we were at a higher risk of falling on all these rocks among the mud. Then there was also the 7PM gate close time and our current pace that was gingerly and thoughtfully placing each foot to avoid disaster was not helping. We decided to turn around and make our way back to the car – completely drenched.
On our way back down, there was a worse view at one clearing but a much improved view at another – it was really hard to believe this was all the same island.
We have been caught in enough rain storms hiking now to know to bring a change of shows and a plastic bag for muddy (and in this case soaked) shoes. We sat on our rain jackets in the car and started the drive our of the valley. We were a little disappointed that we were now zero for two on completing hikes on this trip but hopefully we had more to make up the difference. As we drove back to Kihei, only then did we appreciate how enormous this storm was sitting over the valley. In contrast, on our last day and on the drive to the airport – the area was not a cloud in the sky.
I was very happy with the few seconds of views we got on this trail and can only image what a clear day would bring. If you have time to do one trail in Maui, I would definitely pick this one. For the portion we completed, I can say that the views justified the difficulty of the trail and even so, did not find the steepness to be hard. I hope you have better luck than us on this trail and I know we will be hitting this one first on a return trip to Maui.
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