So what awaits the person that is brave enough to take the road to and past Hana? Well the world renowned Ohe’o Gulch. Now do not let the name deceive you because gulch probably does not strike you as a place that you might want to visit, but it is. This area of Haleakala National Park is truly magical first there is probably the best hike on Maui which is the Pipiwai Trail, and the wonderful area that used to be called the Seven Sacred Pools. Those two things have probably changed your mind on the Ohe’o Gulch and if you are still on the fence on whether or not you should go please keep reading.
This area of Haleakala National Park is called Kipahulu and it really is divided up into two distinct areas. There is the roughly 4 mile round trip hike on the Pipiwai Trail through an amazing bamboo forest with several small waterfalls along the way, to the highlight of the trail, the 400 foot Waimoku Falls. I highly recommend taking the trail just remember that tropical weather can be humid and rainfall could lead to unpredictable flash floods so prepare ahead if you are going to take this hike. You can read about my experience on this trail by clicking here.
The second area is the short hike to the Kuloa Point which leads to the waterfalls and pools that you may be able to swim in (more on that later). The short trail to the lower falls will first take you by a large banyan tree. No matter how many times I see one it still amazes me. I guess it is just because where I am from there is nothing else like it. Once past the tree the trail will lead a short way away to the cliff side where you will get to the see where the Ohe’o Gulch flows into the ocean. This area has several waterfalls and pools where one can swim in if there has not been heavy rainfall in the area. On my first visit here it just happened to be during a period of heavy rain so the lower fall area was closed off, which was bit of a bummer but the area was still beautiful to look at.
Karen and I enjoyed our drive to Hana, but coming to this area at the end of the drive really made it worthwhile. If you really want to enjoy this area without the crowds and perhaps swim in the pools in somewhat solitude you will have to spend a night in Hana. If you are driving from the west side of the island by the time you probably reach the pools other travelers and tour busses will probably be there to greet you. It is still worth it especially if you take the Pipiwai Trail and get to swim in the pools. If the only reason is to swim in the pools make sure you call ahead to see if that is even an option or you might have one disappointing look on your face when they tell you that you can’t.
For more information about Haleakala National Park visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm