The Muliwai Trail near Honokaa, Hawaii is a strenuous 13.6-mile out-and-back trail that features stunning views, black sand beaches, very strenuous climbs, and waterfalls through one of Hawaii's most rugged wilderness areas.
Along this strenuous trek, hikers will find stream crossings, waterfalls, vistas, and beautiful black sand beaches; however, this trail should not be taken lightly as hikers will have to climb over 3,500 feet of elevation gain to complete the hike. The neighboring cliffs tower approximately 2,500-feet above the valley floor, however, the trail does not climb to the highest peaks.
The hike begins on Big Island's Waipi'o Valley which is one of the last true wilderness areas in Hawaii. The Waipi'o Valley was once home to thousands of people until a tsunami hit the valley in 1946, forcing residents out. Today, farmers still use the valley for taro farming.
At the trailhead, which is technically Waipi'o Black Sand Beach, there's a large stream crossing which can be tricky due to slippery rocks. After the stream crossing, the trail stays flat for the first half-mile until it starts to climb the first mountain ridge. This mountain ridge is a very steep 1,150-foot switchback climb to the mountain plateau. Once hikers reach the top of the mountain ridge, the hike undulates as it crosses streams as it makes its way through the lush forest.
After hiking through the plateau forest, hikers will eventually reach the Waimanu Valley with another black sand beach, massive waterfalls like Waiilikahi Falls, and beautiful vistas of the Pacific Ocean. The Waimanu Valley also holds the campground where backpackers can setup for the night as well.
The hike back is just as strenuous as the hike in as the only route back to parking is along the same trail. Take your time, bring plenty of water, and watch the weather for rains which can cause flash-flooding.
Hikers can find parking at the coordinates provided at Waipi'o Black Sand Beach if they have 4-wheel drive due to the steep surface of the road. If you do not have 4-wheel drive, you can park here and walk down the road for an additional 1-mile to the hike.
Camping and Backpacking
Backpackers may camp along the trail, but a permit is required.
Due to flash flooding, hikers and backpackers should always watch the weather before heading out. Hike at your own risk.
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