In a nutshell: CLOSED. Hike into windward West Maui Mountains across suspension bridges, small waterfalls and end at a pool.
Sound-bite:“I’m trespassing, but I paid the fee!?!”
UPDATE: AS OF SEPTEMBER 2011 THIS HAS BEEN COMPLETELY CLOSED
A strong razor-wire lined gate has been placed on the trail/access road. Sorry, it is actually a very sore spot among native Hawaiians, residents and visitors alike, but no one can go here any more.
More information in this excellent Maui Time article.
– – –
This is an interesting hike, and many local families love to come here with their keiki. Kids love crossing the swinging suspension bridges and the end of the hike has a man-made concrete diversion dam and waterfall that cascades into a refreshing swimming hole.
The valley is peaceful and beautiful, with some side treks into absolutely magical forest possible. That said, I’m going to have to say that this is a better option for residents because most visitors have limited time and there are better (and many more) options for waterfall and jungle hikes along the Road to Hana.
The bridges aren’t exactly up to the safety standards of the big city. While they’re not extremely high, the bridges do move and swing – with plenty of open spaces for the uncoordinated (or unlucky) to fall through – so those afraid of heights or worry warts about the kids probably won’t like them one bit. (A bit of perspective: more adventuresome folks won’t consider the bridges even the least bit adrenaline inducing, and as long as streamflow is low, anyone afraid can easily cross the streams by foot.)
The trails are easy to follow, are relatively level, and run along interesting Wailuku Water Company ditches (essentially, the EMI of Na Wai Eha.) There is also a safe area for parking where you gain access to the trail at Waihe’e Valley Plantation – the Plantation charges a nominal fee to access this area, though the majority of the hike is not on their land, and if you don’t have a permit (which Wailuku Water no longer issues) you’re technically trespassing. (More perspective: there is no enforcement for trespassing here and 100 or more people a day take this hike.)
Consider Swinging Bridges if you live here and are looking for something new, or if find yourself around West Maui’s North Shore ahead of schedule. I personally prefer the hike just a mile away which is along the ridge of this valley: Waihee Ridge Trail. You can pick based on your taste and ability – the ridge hike has sweeping views, but no water and is also more strenuous.
A note in getting here: Around mile marker 4.9 is Wahe’e Valley Rd, turn onto the road and follow looking for singes for Waihe’e Valley Plantation. Pull in, pay and park.
Mile Marker: #4.9 (Kahekili Hwy aka Hwy 340), turn onto Waihe’e Valley Rd.
GPS Coordinates: 20.94131,-156.524502
Fee: $6 Adults; $2 Children; $3 Kama’aina
View Swinging Bridges in a larger map