Visitors from the Mainland are probably shocked that each of us isn't out hiking every weekend. Although I am often stunned by the breathtaking views I enjoy from my car as I travel to and from work, as we all know, hiking is one of the best ways to immerse ourselves in the island's beauty--up-close and personal.
Saturday, June 2, would be a great day to "stop and smell the pikake" in celebration of National Trails Day, when the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program and the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership are offering an interpretive guided hike on the scenic Waihe'e Ridge Trail in the West Maui Mountains.
DLNR joins outdoor enthusiasts across the country to celebrate the 19th annual National Trails Day to increase awareness of America's magnificent 200,000 miles of trail systems, and acknowledge supporters and volunteers. More than 2,000 events will take place nationally, including trail maintenance, hiking, paddling, bicycle riding, horseback riding, bird watching, running and trail celebrations.
"Hiking allows us to maintain good physical and mental health by providing us with a chance to breathe fresh air, get our hearts pumping and escape from our stresses," said DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila Jr. "Everyone can promote healthy living, protect green space, and safely enjoy forest and park hiking trails that are maintained for public enjoyment."
The Waihe'e Ridge Trail, about five miles long at 1,000 to 2,563 feet in elevation, is considered an intermediate- to difficult-level hike. It climbs the windward slope of West Maui through a brushy guava thicket, a young stand of planted trees and a native scrub forest.
Spectacular views of Waihe'e Gorge and Makamaka'ole Gulch can be seen along the way. The 2,563-foot peak offers panoramic views of Wailuku and Central Maui, the Kahakuloa slopes and Mount 'Eke.
Na Ala Hele staff will lead the guided hike group two-and-a-half miles up the ridge trail and back down the same way. The trail can be slippery when wet, so shoes with good soles are required. Walking sticks or hiking poles to prevent slipping are recommended.
Reservations are required and space is limited. For more information or to reserve a spot, call Torrie Nohara at (808) 873-3508.
If you miss this trip, take a hike on your own and enjoy the beauty of Maui any time you can. (And give me a call. I would love to go!)
For trail information and images, go to www.hawaiitrails.org.