Lahaina Pali Trail: The Perfect Place to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors

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If you’re looking for a beautiful place to spend a day outdoors, the Lahaina Pali Trail is the perfect spot. This hike offers stunning views of the valley and ocean below, and it’s the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. The trail is relatively easy to navigate, making it perfect for hikers of all skill levels.

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What is the Lahaina Pali Trail?

The Lahaina Pali Trail was built in the 1800s for horseback and foot travel between Wailuku and Lahaina. Native birds such as nēnē and pueo may be seen. There are several historic sights to see. 16 numbered markers along the path typically perplex hikers unless they pick up a copy of “Tales From The Trail” from Na Ala Hele.

The Lahaina Pali Trail is a 5-mile path that offers hikers beautiful views of Kahoʻolawe, Lana’i, wind turbines, and seasonal whales. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, making it perfect for hikers of all levels of experience.

It was originally used by ancient Hawaiians to travel between the villages of Lahaina and Wailuku. Today, the trail is a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers and offers amazing views of the Maui coastline and the Pacific Ocean.

lahaina pali trail hike
Photo by Monty VanderBilt

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How to get to the Lahaina Pali Trail?

  • Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 on TripAdvisor
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,385 ft
  • Highest Point: 1,575 ft
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Season: Year-round

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Map and Elevation

Where to start?

The Lahaina Pali Trail is a great hike for those who are looking for a challenge. The trail gains about 1,600 feet in 5.5 miles, but it has an elevation gain of over 1000 feet! The views from the top of the Pali are incredible, and you can see Molokai and Lanai on a clear day.

  • The West: the trailhead is accessible via West Maui Road. It is a bit more challenging and is recommended for experienced hikers only.
  • The East: the trailhead is accessible via Honoapiilani Highway (Highway 30). Not only does it have better views of the Central Valley and Haleakala, but also the coastline around Kihei and Maalaea.

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Stop spots to take a break

There are several great spots to stop and rest on the Lahaina Pali Trail. The first is about 1.5 miles in, where you’ll find a bench and some great views of the ocean. Another great spot to stop is at the 2.5-mile mark, where you’ll find another bench and some beautiful views of the mountains. If you’re looking for a place to take a break and have a snack, the summit of the trail is a great option, as it offers amazing views of the surrounding landscape.

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The hiking route

You should decide to choose the east or west side of the Lahaina Pali Trail. If you begin at the east, there is a stone with a history of the trail. The track starts out and immediately begins a continuous ascent uphill. Until you reach Kealaloloa Ridge, there is no rest from the climbing.

stone with a history of the trail 1024x1024
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

The sun shines down mercilessly on the exposed trail, with only a few small trees providing any respite from the heat. It is very sunny and hot, so you should bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. The best time to do the Lahaina Pali Trail is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s cooler.

Rest and take in the views, then continue hiking to the summit, which offers amazing views of the surrounding landscape.Once you reach the summit, head back down the trail to your car.

kealaloloa ridge
Photo by Kahunapule Michael Johns

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  • The weather: The best time to do the Lahaina Pali Trail is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s cooler. In addition, Maui’s weather can change quickly and without warning, so be prepared for rain or wind regardless of the forecast.
  • Dehydration and heat exhaustion: strenuous hiking in hot weather can quickly dehydrate you, so make sure to bring plenty of water
  • The difficulty of the trail: The trail can be a bit narrow and rocky that one wrong step could send you tumbling down the hillside.Besides, many sections of the trail are very narrow with steep drop-offs on either side
  • The long hike: Be prepared for a 5 miles long trail, you should protect and have stable health.

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The best hiking weather

It is early fall, specifically September and October. These months offer warm days with a pleasant breeze—not too hot or windy. Sunny but cold days are also ideal for hikes if you’re dressed in multiple layers to regulate your body temperature (and avoid sweating).

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Weather apps for hiking

Several great apps can help you plan your hike and make sure you’re prepared for whatever the weather might bring:

  • The Weather Channel App
  • AccuWeather App
  • The Weather Underground App

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What can you expect on the trail?

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-timer, the Lahaina Pali Trail trek is one you won’t soon forget. You’ll see the growing vistas of Kaho’olawe, Lanai, Molokini, and Haleakala from the viewing platforms as they emerge. The views from the top of the pali (cliffs) are simply breathtaking. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning scenery. 

Once you begin to crest Kealaloloa Ridge, you reach the Kaheawa wind farm after you’ve viewed Kealaloloa Ridge. There is a service road here, and you will be directly below the turbines. You have wonderful views of Kaheawa Windmill Farm along the hike: each of the 34 turbines measuring 168 feet with 115-foot blades.

From the ridge, you can see Haleakala and Maalaea Bay to the east, Molokini and Kaho’olawe islands to the south, and the West Maui Mountains to the west.

molokini 1024x566
Photo courtesy of Molokini

If you’re not returning to your car, then follow the trail. It’s well-marked and easy to stay on course. The second half of the journey is a little rockier than the first but similar in other ways. And good news – the incline isn’t as steep if you’re coming up from the bottom!

Walk the path as it takes you down the ridge to Ukumehame. Once you are near the bottom, take a look out towards the Pacific Ocean. If you’re lucky, in the wintertime (From December to May), you may be able to see humpback whales down in c.

Near the tunnel, the route will take you down a hill and lead to a tiny parking area next to the highway. That’s you have done your journey on the Lahaina Pali Trail!

maalaea bay
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

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Tips for hiking the Lahaina Pali Trail

Parking tips

To park on the Lahaina Pali Trail, continue driving on Honoapiilani Highway until you reach the closed but unlocked gate. The best option is to park on the Ukumehame side, which is just before the Ukumehame Beach State Park off Honoapiilani. The parking area is at Manawaipueo Gulch about 0.25 miles north of the Pali tunnel on the right.

Park your car before the Ukumehame Beach State Park and walk to the Pali Tunnel. If the lot is full, there is room to park along the side of the road but be aware of tight turns and be sure not to block traffic.

ukumehame beach state park 1024x700
Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

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What to bring with you?

When hiking the Lahaina Pali Trail, it is important to bring plenty of water and snacks, as well as sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, and a jacket. You may also want to bring a first-aid kit in case of emergencies.

But what else should you bring with you on your hike? Here are some suggestions:

  • Sturdy shoes: the trail can be rocky and uneven, so you’ll need shoes that can handle tough terrain.
  • A backpack: this will come in handy for carrying water, snacks, and other supplies
  • Binoculars: the views from the top of the Pali are incredible, and you’ll want to be able to take in all the details.
  • A flashlight: the trail can be dark and winding, so a flashlight can help you see where you’re going.
  • Cash: there are no facilities or stores along the trail, so make sure to bring enough cash for snacks and water.

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Other tips

Please follow these safety precautions:

  • Never hike alone: always hike with a buddy or group.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back: if something happens to you on the trail, it will be easier for rescuers to find you if they know where to look.
  • Dress appropriately: wear sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent; also remember that it can get cold at the summit, so bring a jacket even if it doesn’t seem cold when you start out.
  • Take your time: if you’re not comfortable with a particular section of the trail, take your time and find a way to safely bypass it.

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If you’re looking for an amazing hiking experience on Maui, be sure to check out the Lahaina Pali Trail. This well-marked and easy-to-follow trail offers stunning views of the coastline and mountains, as well as Kaho’olawe. The west side of the trail is a bit more challenging, making it perfect for experienced hikers only. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable hike during your stay on Maui, be sure to check out the Lahaina Pali Trail.

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