Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Slippery Waters, Swinging Bridges

For a Tarzan-quality thrill without a ton of effort (3.5 miles round-trip, 250 feet in elevation), head for the Waihe'e River ("slippery waters") on the northern windward coast of Maui. The Waihe'e Valley Plantation, a private agricultural concern, has opened the jungled gorge up to hikers, who pay a modest admission fee (around $6 for adults, $2 for kids) to hike the trail that was once the daily commute for agricultural workers. About midway on the route, you cross the river on two suspension bridges—one 125 long, the other some 175 feet—before the trail ends at a lovely waterfall-pool created by a deceipit dam. Upstream is a view of the 3,000-foot-high amphitheater carved by the river, often draped with a ribbony falls. This hike, one of Maui's best, is a positive example of a landowner working with the public to provide access to a long-popular hike, rather than closing it down as is often the case. See page 89 of Maui Trailblazer.  UPDATE: This hike was closed by landowners in 2012, and is likely to still be closed.