Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Kahakapao Loop trail

Did you get a sunburn and need to stay in the shade a while? The Kahakapao Loop trail in Makawao Forest would be perfect!

It’s spring break and I’ve been looking for adventures to go on with the one teenager who will still do things with me. A friend suggested a hike in Makawao Forest. I’ve never done the entire loop (6.6 miles) and didn’t think I was up to it all, but we agreed we’d hike until the kids complained too much. Guess what? None of the kids complained. They just talked and walked and laughed and had stick sword fights and talked some more. It was awesome! And my friend and I had a great visit too!

Where is Makawao Forest?

Makawao Forest is located at about 2000 ft elevation, about an hour’s drive from Kihei’s beaches. You head up Haleakala on Haleakala Hwy and turn left at the Makawao turn off (Makawao Ave). You will pass Minit Stop, the last gas station, so fill up if you need it. Continue straight through the 4-way stop (Baldwin Ave) where you could turn right to head up to Waihou Springs in Olinda Forest or left to Komoda’s Bakery. Like I said, go straight and take your next right (just past St Thomas church and its cemetery) and follow that road (Piiholo Rd) til you pass the Pi’iholo Ranch zipline (appears to be closed as of today). On the left you’ll see a gate for the Makawao Forest reserve (open 7am-7pm), turn there onto Waiahiwi Road, then right onto Kahakapao Road. Eventually you will see two parking lots for the Kahakapao Loop Trail (take the second). Yes it’s a little confusing.

Kahakapao Loop Trail

There is a port-o-potty at the trail head should you need it. You then walk about 10 minutes until you reach the loop trail. It’s a beautiful hike/ride through lush forests of eucalyptus trees, ti shrubs, ginger stands, ferns etc. We saw some evidence of wild boars (they root around in the dirt) but no animals besides a lot of birdsong. Expect a 1200 ft elevation gain. You are hiking in the forest and crossing a gorge. The hike took us 2 hours and 20 minutes with no stops, but the kids were leading at a good pace. Alltrails says to expect 3+ hours.

There is no view per se. The trail can be muddy. When hiking I always bring slippahs and a box/bags for muddy shoes, so I don’t make a mess in the car.

Note, this is an area popular with mountain bikers and the occasional horse rider, so be aware of your surroundings and do share the trails. I would think if you choose to hike on a school day, it would be less busy.

Where to rent bikes?

Krank Cycles in Makawao is your closest mountain bike/gear store. Unfortunately they had a devastating fire a few months ago, but are operating out of a temporary location next door. Do think through how you will transport the bikes to the forest – it would be a long ride by bike.

Do you enjoy hiking? Here is a list of some of the hikes we’ve done (and I’ve blogged about) here on Maui. Enjoy!