Monday, August 2, 2010

Maui Valley Trails --by Eric Stelene -- 8 January 2001

Another installation from the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives. This one is by Eric Stelene ( Here's Eric.

I've been on Maui for about 3 months now, so I guess it's time to start posting stuff. So with out further ado here's some of what I've explored so far:


A'e Stream (aka JFK's Profile)-
This deep gorge in the Iao valley is only a roadside curiosity to those on their way to the Iao needle. The profile of John F Kennedy (the drunk, womanizing war-monger covered for by his classy wife) can supposedly be seen in the canyon wall.

Park your car at the Needle parking lot and walk back down to the bridge. Pick your way down to the stream bed and follow it up. There's no trail but the going's not too hard. Large boulders are scattered throughout the valley floor and seem to have originated high on the cliffs above and probably came crashing down long ago. Climb up a few small, dry waterfalls and in about 45 mins the canyon walls close in. About 3/4 mile from the start, the canyon becomes reminiscent of Ma'akua Valley on Oahu.

The narrow walls are covered with moss and water continuously seeps from above. A waterfall about 40 feet high blocks further progress upstream. However, a large tree trunk leans at an angle to the top of the falls and it seems possible, but very dangerous, to climb the slippery wet log to the top of the falls and continue to the amphitheatre at the back of the valley. Just below the falls, an irrigation tunnel comes out of the canyon wall about 6 feet above the stream bed. Those who are suicidally adventurous could crawl through tunnel and emerge (hopefully) somewhere else.

"Iao Needle Canyon" (unnamed stream)-
When looking at the Needle from the small footbridge everyone takes pictures from, you can see this incredibly narrow, steep gorge to the right of the Needle. In other words, the canyon's west wall is the Iao Needle itself. From the left side of the bridge, you can see a small trail leading down to the stream.

The is a sign written in some foriegn language that reads something like "No resspassing, keep ou" With no intention of "resspassing", follow the trail down to where it meets the stream. Cross it and climb up the embankment into the "Needle Canyon" streambed. The rocky streambed is thick with hau and progress is hard and slow. In several places it is necessary to remove your pack and squeeze through the branches. The stream bed opens a little and you can see the valley walls towering above you on each side. Although you can't distinguish it as such, the cliff on your left is actually the base of the Iao Needle. Climb up several rocky cliffs, each harder than the one before it, then the vegatation disapears and you can see the back of the valley ahead. The canyon walls soar high above you. Pass several small pools and dry slippery slides and come to one more dry waterfall to climb. You have to cling to roots and branches next to falls to make it up. Its not easy. Squeeze through a windy, fantastically carved section section of streambed comperable to a slot canyon of the southwest. Emerge at a small amphitheatre and 60 foot waterfall chute. Above the chute, you can see the back of the valley several hundreds yards beyond. Total distance to here is less than mile, it takes about 1 hour.


Twin Falls-
You have to do this early to beat the crowds at this very popular spot. Although it's a real tourist trsp, its well worth it. Twin Falls is the only waterfall I have found in Hawaii that is possible to walk behind. The trail starts at mile 2 of the Hana Highway and follows a dirt road about 1/2 mile to Twin Falls. Several pools and small falls are found along the way. The road is wide and easy. Come to a juction where a path splits off to the left. A rock with a faded painting of a waterfall and arrow pointing left sits at the juction. Take this path a short distance to another juntion. Bear to the right(to the left the path leads to a rusty gate). Reach an overlook of Twin Falls and climb down to the pool. At the back of the pool is a large eroded alcove. Walk/wade around the pool to alcove. Long ferns hang down over the cliff above you reminding you of Fern Grotto on Kauai (Note: There is only one single waterfall here, so I don't know why its called Twin Falls). When you're ready to leave, head back the way you came. At the juction you can take the path that leads to the rusty gate. You can continue a little further to several small water falls and pools.

Waikamoi Stream-
Waikamoi Stream is the first bridge past the Waikamoi ridge trail, past mile 9 on the Hana Hwy. The first waterfall you will find here is right at the bridge. Hike beyond on the trail to right of the falls and follow the streambed a few hundred yards upstream to another waterfall with small cave near its base (see pic at left). You can also hike downstream from the bridge and in about 15 mins come to the top of a 40 footer with big plunge pool. It looks like great place to jump from, only there is no apparent way to get back up.

Puohokamoa Stream-
Probably the most popular swimming hole along the Hana Hwy, its is 1 mile beyond Waikamoi stream. Like Waikamoi, you can find 3 waterfalls all within a short distance. The first one is a stones throw from the bridge. There is path to the left of the falls that leads to the top. Continue a little further to the second waterfall and a little more privacy. Downstream from the bridge, walk several hundred yards in the stream bed and come to the top of a specatular waterfall about 300 feet high. You can view this waterfall another way:

From the bridge, drive back in the direction of Kahului. Just before the road turns out of Puohokumoa valley, there is a pulloff on the left next to some powerlines. A short trail leads to a breathtaking overlook of the falls. a little further along the trail you can get a partial glimpse makai of the Hana coast and Keopuku Rock, an impressive seastack just offshore.

Punolao(?) Stream
Honomanu Valley is the largest valley on the Hana Highway west of Kipahulu. On the west side of Honomanu is a deep draw cut by Punolao(?) Stream. A short hike up this stream is a must. Almost immediately upon leaving the Highway you find yourself in deep narrow valley similar to Ma'akua. In 15 mins you find yourself at the base of a 100 foot waterfall. This valley looks so wild you would think you were in the most remote, unexplored parts of Hawaii and not minutes from a major thoroughfare!

Hanawi Stream-
Around mile 24, there is another roadside waterfall everyone takes pictures of and then drives off. If you climb over the fence and down to the stream, you will find one neat little place! A small stream comes down from the left from a cove so undercut by erosion it looks like its flowing out of a cave. The first pool above the falls has a natural arch big enough to walk through. This the only arch I've found along a stream in Hawaii. There are 2 more pools upstream and another waterfall, The whole place is filled with all kinds of alcoves, pukas, and swimming holes. Its definitley worth a look.

Nakhiku Road turns makai off Hana Hwy to Nahiku landing. About a mile down the road look for caves on the right. you'll drive right past them if your not careful. There're not very big, but one is big enough to stand up in and goes back about 30-40 feet. You'll need a flashlight.

More to come.