Upcountry Maui Trails: Makawao Forest Reserve

Ever heard of the Makawao Forest Reserve?

When first planning a visit or holiday to Maui, the first thing that instinctually comes to mind is probably exploring sandy beaches, driving to famous surf spots like Jaws, and investigating the island’s rich aquatic diversity with snorkeling or boat tour around the reefs.

These are all lovely activities and provide a different perspective to Maui.

But what if we told you that there are some local best-kept secrets that don’t involve water, but the woods?  Well, it’s true!  Approximately 20 minutes from the beaches in Paia, and just a few miles from Krank Cycles in the heart of the Cowboy town of Makawao, you’ll find Makawao Forest Reserve in Kahakapao Recreation Area.

Makawao Forest Reserve 2

Where is Makawao Forest Reserve?

Driving or riding from Makawao town center, it only takes  1.2 miles until you’ll find yourself climbing up into a lush green canopy of indigenous plants and shrubs and a hiking and biking trail network that boasts some of the flowiest, fun trails and single-track a cyclist or hiker could dream of. This is the Makawao Forest Reserve!

What are the best things to do at the Makawao Forest Reserve?

Open year-round, the 2093 acres of Makawao forest reserve has several loops and out and back offerings that are sure to please the whole family. These trails can climb as high as 4000ft above sea level, so feel free to take your time and take in all of the ferns and eucalyptus trees.

Wind your way through tropical ash, Cook pine, hala pepe, leʻle, mamaki, pilo and kupukupu and enjoy the sights and smells along the way!

For mountain bikers, this dirt is unique unto itself;  it is almost always hero dirt!  The red dirt single track will lead you on a fun, fast, and smooth journey down the famous Pineapple Express trail.

To say this trail is a flow trail is an understatement for sure!  With berms, tabletops, jumps, and an exquisitely built wall ride, this trail provides something for everyone!

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Even inexperienced or first-time riders will have a blast, as the trail features, jumps, doubles, and drops are easily avoided in favor of a simple easy roll down to the parking lot.

The unique versatility of this trail network makes it that wonderful and rare happy compromise for everyone; something the whole family or a group of cyclists with mixed skill sets will all come out of smiling and maybe ready to do another lap on.

Stop into Krank Cycles on Makawao Ave, just 5 minutes or so from the trailhead!

… and talk to the staff, or the owner: they helped build and maintain the trails and have all the inside info, as well as directions, maps, and tips for your Makawao ride.

Don’t have your bike with you? That’s no problem, either!  Krank Cycles has a stable full of high-end full suspension  and  hardtail mountain  bike rentals as  well as e mountain bikes (which have just gained approval for legal trail access!)

All rentals come with complimentary helmets,  and car racks are also available for a small fee if needed- they’ll even help you install the racks and load the bikes! 

A journey above sea level and into the woods will bring you closer to the heart of Maui, and give you the sense of Aloha that Hawaii is famous for.