The Diamond Valley Company

  TREK EXCERPT from Maui Trailblazer    


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All the makings for a dream day: two classic tropical valleys, lots of snorkeling coral, rideable surf, and historical curiosities that span centuries.

Take Hwy. 30, the Honoapi‘ilani Hwy. toward Lahaina. Pass mm13. Note: Further directions follow at the start of each activity description below.

Olowalu to: Petroglyph hill (1.25 mi., 200ft.), or Olowalu Valley (2.25, mi., 375 ft.); Olowalu Landing (.5-mi.); Launiupoko to: Village site (.25-mi.), or Launiupoko Valley (3.75 mi., 450 ft.)

To Olowalu Valley and Petroglyph hill—a yellowish mound whose real name is Kilea cinder cone—turn right at the Olowalu Store and Chez Paul, which sit side by side at mm15. Drive around the left side of the store and jog left on a road near a small water tank. Within a few hundred feet, you reach a gate for trailhead parking. Note: If you drive past this gate, as many people do, you can drive all the way to the petroglyphs and subtract 1 mile from the round-trip hiking distances. The first .5-mile of the hike leaves the huge monkey pod trees near the store and crosses fallow cane fields; the rock platforms you see stacked in this area, which look like heiaus, are actually piles workers made when clearing the fields.
The road goes to the north side of the hill, where on its vertical face you will see the picture etchings made centuries ago. Look for old pink pipe railings and decrepit steps. The exact origins of the pictures are the subject of Hawaiian legend and anthropological consternation. To the top Kilea cinder cone, keep right on the road past the petroglyphs and curl right and up. Global warming tip: Sea shell fossils indicate that during geological yesteryear, when the earth had small polar ice caps, sea level reached within 15 feet of the top of this cone, making it a tiny island.

To continue to Olowalu Valley, cross the stream over the bridge that is just left of the petroglyphs, and stay on the road as it heads for a water tank that is about .25-mile distant. This hike is a trailblazer’s special: there is no maintained trail in the valley. But if you cross the irrigation ditch at the tank, and go left, you’ll see a feeder trail that heads toward the stream bank. Keeping the stream to your right as you head up, you’ll see paths of people who have attempted this hike. The forest is dense, but you can find adequate passage. The fascination with this trail is that it was the escape route in 1790 for Chief Kalanikupule when his troops were slaughtered across the island in the Iao Valley by the forces of Kamehameha the Great. Be Aware: Although you can find a decent route heading upstream, finding the same route back is difficult. Don’t hike alone or wander too far from the stream.

It takes time to fully soak in the beauty from the wharf at Olowalu Landing. At mm15, turn left across from the store and restaurant. Go left immediately on a road that then turns right to a parking area about .25-mile from the highway. The grounds here, adorned with coco palms, Norfolk pines, and several large native Hawaiian trees, were in 1864 the site of one of Maui’s earliest sugar mills and its most active pier. For the supreme vistas, head out the rock-and-dirt wharf. Sea turtles often pass, as do whales, just off the point. Lanai is the backdrop. Inland is a museum quality view of Olowalu Valley, a jagged “V” above the treetops. This tranquil place was the setting of the Olowalu Massacre, also in 1790, when American merchant Captain Simon Metcalf slaughtered about 100 villagers in a dispute over a stolen boat. Later, one of Metcalf’s men, John Young, was kidnapped from another ship and forced to become a military advisor to King Kamehameha I. Years later, Young’s granddaughter became beloved Queen Emma, wife of Kamehameha IV.

To Launiupoko, the next valley north, take Highway 30 to the beach park of the same name at mm18. Turn right on Kai Hele Ku, toward upscale homes inland. Continue 1.25 miles and turn right on Wailau Place. The sign noting the Launiupoko Ahupua‘a, or Village, is at the end of the cul-de-sac. An ahupua‘a is a wedge of land running from the mountains to the sea and containing a valley and stream. A short trail leads down to the site; much of it is overgrown.

To Launiupoko Valley, and the best interior valley view in West Maui, walk up the dirt road to your left as you enter the cul-de-sac. After about .5-mile, on an upward grade that follows an easement for big power poles, you’ll come to a lava-rock reservoir. Note: You may want to drive to the reservoir, thus subtracting 1.25 miles and significant elevation from the hike. Use caution as road can be rutted after rains.

With the reservoir on your left, go right on a grassy track that follows an irrigation ditch up the valley. The track becomes a trail, and soon you will find yourself walking the tops to lava rocks that form the ditch. You lose the valley view for good when you enter trees, as century plants, guava trees, and wild coffee trees encroach on the path. About a mile from the reservoir, you cross the stream on a short, falling-down bridge supporting a water pipe. You have to enter the ditch in places over the next two hundred yards, until reaching its end, where the stream spews uncontained out of the dark shade of the jungle. Trailblazers can proceed with caution on a pig path that continues up the valley. Be Aware: Launiupoko, a defunct cane field, is being developed for residences. Future access is uncertain. Use caution on this slippery route, and be aware that landowners are not responsible for persons using trails through private property.




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