Saturday, March 14, 2015

Launiupoko: This is why Maui is called the 'Valley Isle'

A drive along the base of the West Maui Mountains—all the way from Iao Valley State Park near Kahului around to Lahaina—reveals the yawning green valleys that give Maui its nickname. Access is limited, so visitors with a sense of adventure will appreciate the off-beat hike into out-of-the-way Launiupoko Valley, not too far south of Lahaina.

The hike begins at an unmarked trailhead in a new housing development, up the mountain from Laniupoko Beach Park. The trail, used mainly by local equestrians, starts out as a mundane ascent, but then transitions to a contour road that gives up big ocean views. Hikers then start into the valley on a weedy road (pictured) that becomes a trail along a water conveyance ditch. This trail then degrades to a pig-path into the deep dark green—not advisable for hiking.

At the end of the contour road is a reservoir that will be a worthy destination for people wanting to kick back.

Launiupoko Valley is an ahupua'a (ah-hoo-poo-ah-ah), the fundamental subdivision of land where villages were established. Whether large or small, a wedge-shaped ahupua'a contained the essentials necessary to sustain life: A mountain forest,  valley and stream, agricultural terraces, and a coastline.

Maui Trailblazer has more details on Launiupoko and other places to escape the tourist drumbeat on Maui.