All the makings for
a dream day: two classic tropical valleys, lots of snorkeling coral, rideable
surf, and historical curiosities that span centuries.
Take Hwy. 30, the
Honoapiilani Hwy. toward Lahaina. Pass mm13. Note: Further directions
follow at the start of each activity description below.
Olowalu to: Petroglyph hill (1.25 mi., 200ft.), or Olowalu Valley (2.25,
mi., 375 ft.); Olowalu Landing (.5-mi.); Launiupoko to: Village site (.25-mi.),
or Launiupoko Valley (3.75 mi., 450 ft.)
To Olowalu Valley and Petroglyph hilla yellowish mound whose real
name is Kilea cinder coneturn right at the Olowalu Store and Chez
Paul, which sit side by side at mm15. Drive around the left side of the
store and jog left on a road near a small water tank. Within a few hundred
feet, you reach a gate for trailhead parking. Note: If you drive past
this gate, as many people do, you can drive all the way to the petroglyphs
and subtract 1 mile from the round-trip hiking distances. The first .5-mile
of the hike leaves the huge monkey pod trees near the store and crosses
fallow cane fields; the rock platforms you see stacked in this area, which
look like heiaus, are actually piles workers made when clearing the fields.
The road goes to the north side of the hill, where on its vertical face
you will see the picture etchings made centuries ago. Look for old pink
pipe railings and decrepit steps. The exact origins of the pictures are
the subject of Hawaiian legend and anthropological consternation. To the
top Kilea cinder cone, keep right on the road past the petroglyphs and
curl right and up. Global warming tip: Sea shell fossils indicate that
during geological yesteryear, when the earth had small polar ice caps,
sea level reached within 15 feet of the top of this cone, making it a
To continue to Olowalu Valley, cross the stream over the bridge that is
just left of the petroglyphs, and stay on the road as it heads for a water
tank that is about .25-mile distant. This hike is a trailblazers
special: there is no maintained trail in the valley. But if you cross
the irrigation ditch at the tank, and go left, youll see a feeder
trail that heads toward the stream bank. Keeping the stream to your right
as you head up, youll see paths of people who have attempted this
hike. The forest is dense, but you can find adequate passage. The fascination
with this trail is that it was the escape route in 1790 for Chief Kalanikupule
when his troops were slaughtered across the island in the Iao Valley by
the forces of Kamehameha the Great. Be Aware: Although you can find a
decent route heading upstream, finding the same route back is difficult.
Dont hike alone or wander too far from the stream.
It takes time to fully soak in the beauty from the wharf at Olowalu Landing.
At mm15, turn left across from the store and restaurant. Go left immediately
on a road that then turns right to a parking area about .25-mile from
the highway. The grounds here, adorned with coco palms, Norfolk pines,
and several large native Hawaiian trees, were in 1864 the site of one
of Mauis earliest sugar mills and its most active pier. For the
supreme vistas, head out the rock-and-dirt wharf. Sea turtles often pass,
as do whales, just off the point. Lanai is the backdrop. Inland is a museum
quality view of Olowalu Valley, a jagged V above the treetops.
This tranquil place was the setting of the Olowalu Massacre, also in 1790,
when American merchant Captain Simon Metcalf slaughtered about 100 villagers
in a dispute over a stolen boat. Later, one of Metcalfs men, John
Young, was kidnapped from another ship and forced to become a military
advisor to King Kamehameha I. Years later, Youngs granddaughter
became beloved Queen Emma, wife of Kamehameha IV.
To Launiupoko, the next valley north, take Highway 30 to the beach park
of the same name at mm18. Turn right on Kai Hele Ku, toward upscale homes
inland. Continue 1.25 miles and turn right on Wailau Place. The sign noting
the Launiupoko Ahupuaa, or Village, is at the end of the cul-de-sac.
An ahupuaa is a wedge of land running from the mountains to the
sea and containing a valley and stream. A short trail leads down to the
site; much of it is overgrown.
To Launiupoko Valley, and the best interior valley view in West Maui,
walk up the dirt road to your left as you enter the cul-de-sac. After
about .5-mile, on an upward grade that follows an easement for big power
poles, youll come to a lava-rock reservoir. Note: You may want to
drive to the reservoir, thus subtracting 1.25 miles and significant elevation
from the hike. Use caution as road can be rutted after rains.
With the reservoir on your left, go right on a grassy track that follows
an irrigation ditch up the valley. The track becomes a trail, and soon
you will find yourself walking the tops to lava rocks that form the ditch.
You lose the valley view for good when you enter trees, as century plants,
guava trees, and wild coffee trees encroach on the path. About a mile
from the reservoir, you cross the stream on a short, falling-down bridge
supporting a water pipe. You have to enter the ditch in places over the
next two hundred yards, until reaching its end, where the stream spews
uncontained out of the dark shade of the jungle. Trailblazers can proceed
with caution on a pig path that continues up the valley. Be Aware: Launiupoko,
a defunct cane field, is being developed for residences. Future access
is uncertain. Use caution on this slippery route, and be aware that landowners
are not responsible for persons using trails through private property.