Waihee Ridge is one of the most beautiful trails in Maui especially if you’re looking for a hike that has it all: lush forest jungle, mountains, waterfalls, and views of the ocean.
This trail consists of many switchbacks that gain 1600 feet in elevation in just 2 miles. It is hard and challenging but the payoff is well worth it.
With an early head start it’s possible to finish up the trail by late morning and have plenty of time left over for other activities.
This guide covers lots of helpful information for hiking the Waihe’e Ridge Trail including where to start, how long it takes, trail difficulty, and what to know before you go!
Quick Trail Facts
Before we dive into the details, here is a quick overview of the Waihee Ridge Trail in Maui:
- Length: 4 miles out and back
- Trail difficulty: Hard
- Change in elevation: 1600 feet
- Time needed: around 3 hours
- Dogs allowed? Yes
Location & Parking
Waihee Ridge Trail is located in the North-West part of Maui. It’s about an hour’s drive from Lahaina and about a 30-minute drive from Kihei, the two most popular hotel areas on the island.
We were staying in Lahaina so to hike this trail we set out at 6 am to grab breakfast and get to the parking lot before it gets full.
Map of Waihee Ridge Trail:
To get there take Kahekili Hwy/340 and turn left onto Maluhia Rd. You will notice the overflow parking lot after making the turn, but keep going to the main lot or you’ll need to hike an extra mile each way.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail has a designated parking lot for hikers right by the trailhead.
You’ll be tired and sore from the hike itself so try to get a spot at the main parking lot if possible.
The trailhead is located at the beginning of the parking lot. There is a gate where you will need to brush off your shoes and squeeze through to start the hike. There are many cows along this trail and the gate prevents them from roaming away.
Trailhead Address: Waihee Ridge Trail, Kahekili Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793
Waihee Trail Description
The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is a 4 mile out and back hike in West Maui that is relatively short but quite hard. The hike itself is straightforward and follows the same trail for the entire time until you reach the summit.
The first section of the trail starts on a steep paved path and goes straight up. Then the trail flattens out for a bit before entering a forest and starts climbing up switchbacks.
Once you exit the forest you will be greeted with stunning views of the coastline and continue up a narrow, muddy path. The trail ends at a viewpoint although during our visit it was completely covered in fog.
Despite the difficulty, we saw people of all ages doing this trek. With good hiking shoes and frequent breaks, it’s doable for most people!
The way back is mostly downhill but it can be slippery especially after heavy fog or rain. If you have trekking poles, they can help with the descend so you don’t slip and fall.
Best Time To Hike It
The Waihee Ridge Trail is open to visitors daily from 7 am to 7 pm. Due to limited parking, it’s best to hike this trail as early as possible in the morning to secure a spot.
Our goal was to get there when the parking lot opens at 7 am. If you come any later, you might need to either park in the overflow parking lot or wait in line for a spot.
Note: Keep in mind that the first hikers set out at 7 am so they won’t be returning until 10-11 am. If you arrive between 8-9 am and there are no spots left, you may be waiting around for a while.
I also prefer to hike early in the morning because mornings are the best times for photography and it’s also the least crowded time. We started the hike at 7:30 am and only ran into a handful of other hikers while we were out there. By the time we descended at 10 am, the trail was already super crowded.
Mornings are also the best times to hike in Maui weather-wise. In the early morning, the weather is cool and overcast while the afternoons are often hot, sunny, and humid.
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Know Before You Go
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you head out on the Waihee Ridge trail:
- It’s free to hike the Waihe’e Ridge Trail which is a nice perk if you’re traveling on a budget or want to balance out some of the more expensive Maui activities with more “pocket-friendly” things to do.
- There is limited reception in Maui once you leave the city areas. I recommend marking the trailhead location on your map or downloading a hiking app like Maps.Me before heading out.
- There are a couple of porta-potties at the trailhead but no other restrooms along the trail. I always carry my own hiking wipes and hand sanitizer in case they don’t have any at the restroom. My favorite is the Dr. Bronner hand sanitizer spray.
- Maui weather is generally hot and humid but it can also change drastically, especially in the mountains. Wear layers that you can easily take on and off because it may start raining unexpectedly.
- Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be leashed.
What To Bring
While you don’t need to be all geared out to do this hike, there are a couple of things that I recommend bringing:
- Good hiking shoes. This trail can be very wet and slippery so wear hiking shoes to avoid injuries and falls. Merrell Trail Running Shoes are great for day hikes like this one.
- A jacket in case it starts raining. During our hike, it was misty and raining on and off.
- Polarized Sunglasses & a hiking hat to help with harsh sunlight.
- Mineral Sunscreen & lip balm which is essential for hiking in Maui. Even on cloudy days, you can get very sunburned.
- Reusable water bottle with a filter, plus extra water for longer day hikes. There are no water sources along the trail so come prepared and bring plenty of water with you.
- Snacks for energy to power through this hard 4-mile hike.
- Portable phone charger in case your phone runs out of battery or you get lost.
- A small backpack that fits everything you may need for a day hike.
Hiking The Waihee Ridge Trail
Here is the detailed breakdown of the Waihee Ridge Trail for those wondering what the hike is like & a few of the “must-see” stops along the trail.
The Waihe’e Ridge hike begins on a steep, paved section going uphill. This is one of the most dreaded parts of the trail and will get your legs burning. Be sure to take frequent breaks on this path, and glance back for spectacular views of the ocean.
Once you reach the end of the paved path, the trail flattens out for a bit and enters a forest. There will be a second (very narrow) gate that you will need to pass through to continue on.
The forest part felt very serene and so peaceful especially since we were some of the first people out on the trail. We could hear birds chirping all around us and the forest scents smelled so refreshing.
Next, you’ll travel along switchbacks but if you get tired, there is a resting spot with a bench that provides a view of a double waterfall in the distance.
Then the forest will open up and this is where you start getting good views of the ocean and rugged mountains in the distance. You will pass by an overlook platform and many people think that this is the summit but the actual summit is further up along the trail so be sure to keep going!
After the viewpoint, the path continues up along a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs on both sides so watch your step.
The next section is the most scenic one because the views are just jaw-dropping all around. But as we went up in elevation, the fog started to roll in and we couldn’t see anything in front of us.
There is one last push up a steep hill before you reach the final viewpoint. There is a platform at the summit with benches for resting but upon arrival, most of the view was completely covered in fog.
It even started pouring on us at the top so it’s a good idea to bring a rain jacket or a light sweater. We stayed up there in hopes that the fog might clear up but after 20 minutes it was still very dense and we started making our way back down.
The way back was a lot more slippery, especially after the morning mist and rain turned the trail into mud. We had to keep a close eye on where we were stepping to avoid slipping and falling down. I can imagine that during the rainy season in Maui (from November to March) it can be a lot more challenging getting up and down this section.
As we were coming down crowds of people were starting the climb up so we were happy with our early head start. Overall it took us around 3 hours to complete this hike with plenty of rest and photo stops.
Where To Stay
The two main hotel areas in Maui are called Kihei and Lahaina. During our 10 day Maui trip we stayed in different sections of the island so we got to know both of these areas.
If you plan to hike the Waihee Ridge Trail, the best city to stay at is Kihei which is only a 30-minute drive from the trailhead. If you plan to stay in Lahaina, it’s an hour’s drive from the trail so plan accordingly and leave early.
For Kihei vacation rentals, I recommend the Koa Resort. We stayed here for 5 days and really enjoyed it. Koa Resort has a wonderful pool, a hot tub and beautiful property that consists of many spacious rental apartments.
Check out Koa Resort and book it on VRBO here!
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