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Waihee Ridge Trail | Gorgeous Ridgeline Hike In Maui

The Waihee Ridge Trail is a steep ridgeline hike in Maui that offers incredible views of lush mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  But hikers are also treated with views of various forested sections, central Maui, Haleakala, and some (distant) waterfalls.

Views from the Waihee Ridge Trail.

This trail on the northwestern slopes of Maui is steep and challenging because trail conditions are often muddy.  And the views are heavily dependent on the weather.  It’s common to have clouds obstructing some or all of these views.  Below I share the best advice for conquering this hike with the best chance of having good visibility.

Trail Stats For Waihee Ridge Trail

Distance: 4.2miles

Elevation: 1,610feet

Difficulty: Hard

Type: Out & Back

Permit: No

Bathroom: Portapotti @ trailhead

Dogs: Yes, on leash

Start Early To Beat The Crowds and Clouds

Looking down on the trailhead parking lot for Waihee Ridge Trail.
Looking down on the trailhead parking lot for Waihee Ridge Trail.

The best way to find good visibility on this hike is to start early (like 7-8am).  The typical pattern is that clouds form mid-morning or afternoon.  The trailhead parking also fills up quickly most mornings.

If the trailhead parking is full, there is an overflow lot about a mile before on the road you came in on.  But we highly recommend just waiting for someone to finish the hike.  The overflow lot will add about 2 miles total, and it’s like 300ft lower in elevation.  There should be a pretty regular stream of people finishing the hike if the lot is already full.

Beginning Of The Waihee Ridge Trail

The initial steep paved climb on the Waihee Ridge Trail.
The initial steep paved climb on the Waihee Ridge Trail.

The steepest part of the hike is actually right at the beginning, when the trail starts on a short but steep paved section.  But relief is on the way.

Forested Section

The Cook Pines on the Waihee Ridge Trail
The Cook Pines on the Waihee Ridge Trail

Next you enter into a forested section that provides some much needed shade after the initial climb.  There is a grove of Cook Pine Trees on your left.  These trees are not native to Hawaii, and were actually brought here by sailors to use as masts on their ships.

Some lush moss on a tree in the forested section.
Some lush moss on a tree in the forested section.

This section still climbs some elevation on gentle switchbacks but feels practically flat compared to the previous section.  The Norfolk Pine Trees give way to a more typical Hawaiian forest.

The trail opens up to a view of some waterfalls in the distance on your right.  There is a bench here that makes a perfect place for a quick rest while taking the views.

A short break in the trees provides a great view of a pair of waterfalls to the right of the trail.
A short break in the trees provides a great view of a pair of waterfalls to the right of the trail.

Midway Viewpoint

Looking out over Waihee Valley from the wooden viewing deck.
Looking out over Waihee Valley from the wooden viewing deck.

Once you come out of the trees, you are treated to the epic views that were promised on this hike.  Shortly after there is a wooden viewing platform.  From here you can see deep into the valley created by the eroded Puu Kukui volcano.  The lush green ridges on the opposite side of the valley are breathtaking.

The Waihe’e River is flowing along the valley floor.  To your left, you can see central Maui and the summit of Haleakala (clouds permitting).  From this point, the hike has almost no shade.

The trail continues along the ridgeline providing what I think are the best views of the entire hike.  A little bit farther, your view of central Maui widens so that you can see all of Kahului Bay.

False Summit

The false summit on the Waihe'e Ridge Trail.
The false summit on the Waihe’e Ridge Trail.

Beware of the false summit!  This part of the hike climbs some wooden stairs along the ridge and it would appear that this is the top.  But there is still about 3/4 of a mile to go.

The trail traverses a little forested saddle point, which provides a little shade and some short but sweet relief from the endless inclines.

Final Push To the Top Of Waihee Ridge Trail

The final section of the Waihe'e Ridge Trail.

The last section of steep switchbacks makes up the final half-mile.  If you are lucky, the clouds haven’t rolled in too thick and you can still enjoy the views while you climb.  Although, some people may prefer a little cloud cover to give them some relief from the hot sun.

At the top, there is a wooden viewing platform and picnic table.  From here you’re treated to sweeping views in almost every direction.  If there are clouds obstructing the view, it’s worth waiting a bit, because they change quickly and may clear the view in a few minutes.

View from the top of Waihee Ridge Trail.
View from the top of Waihee Ridge Trail.

Overall, I wouldn’t say that reaching the top provides a significantly better view than what you have been enjoying for most of the hike.  Though it does provide a good sense of closure and accomplishment.

Through a break in the clouds you can see the top of Haleakala Volcano.
Through a break in the clouds you can see the top of Haleakala Volcano.

The notable changes about the final views are to the west, where you can see across to the other Hawaiian island of Moloka’i.  And to the northwest, you can see Kahakuloa Head, probably the most prominent geographic feature of Maui’s northwest coast.  It’s a tall cone-like mountain that juts out into the ocean.

Looking down at Kahakuloa Head.
Looking down at Kahakuloa Head.

How To Get To Waihee Ridge Trail

The trailhead is at the end of Maluhia Rd off of Kahekili Highway (340).  Most people will find the easiest and fastest access by driving through Kahului in central Maui.  If you are staying in West Maui, you may be tempted to drive the road around the northwest side of Maui.  But this section of road is very windy and narrow, so leave extra time if you want to drive this route.

Looking for more fun things to do in Maui, check out our Maui 7-day itinerary or the Best Stops Along The Road To Hana.

What To Bring

Waihe'e Ridge Trail in Maui, Hawaii.

The most important items to bring on Waihee Ridge Trail are water and good hiking footwear.  More specifically, footwear with good traction because the trail is often muddy.  Especially on the descent, you will be thankful that you have good traction when going down steep mud.

And even though the hike isn’t very long, you should bring about 2L of water per person.  The trail is mostly exposed, so it takes a fair amount of water to stay hydrated.

Trekking poles would also be a helpful addition to help keep your balance, and save your knees on the way down.

Otherwise, check out the 8 Essentials For Your Hiking Pack that we bring on pretty much every hike. Or shop our favorite hiking gear, here!

Takeaway | Waihee Ridge Trail

Views from the Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui Hawaii.

The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is one of the most gorgeous hikes in Maui.  The steep ridgeline is physically challenging but rewards you with legendary views for nearly the entire hike.  The chance to get views of lush green mountain ridges on Maui is unique, so enjoy this incredibly beautiful hike while you sweat out some calories!

After the hiker, be sure to hit up one of the best restaurants in Maui or Must-visit breweries in Maui!

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