Maui’s old and ancient roads make for interesting trekking!

Author's spouse Susan on the ancient King's Highway as it winds through lava fields a mile south of La Perouse Bay.

We own a timeshare in Kihei, and get to Maui almost every year since our purchase in 2001.  Our recent May, 2016 visit allowed us to do some trekking and exploring of Maui’s old roads and ancient highways.

I have long been a fan of old roads, growing up in a family whose father loved to explore back roads and talk about the predecessors to those roads that can be found beside many of today’s modern highways. As young kids, my two brothers and I did not then appreciate my dad’s frequent detours with the comment, “let’s see where this road will take us”!

We found the most compelling hike (along the ancient King’s Highway) through lava fields, south of La Perouse Bay, including a multi-mile stretch on the old King’s Highway.

Here are two of Maui’s several stellar examples:

The Kings Highway: this was built to circumnavigate the island by ancient Maui kings, so they could circle the island and collect taxes and homage from the natives. It wound around Maui’s rocky and steep volcanoes, cutting through lava fields, high upon rocky bluffs and was a wonder of early engineering skills!

Author on a shady portion of the King's Highway south of La Perouse Bay.

A great example of a stretch of the old Kings Highway is to take the Wailea Road south to its deadend at La Perouse Bay – a marvelous adventure in its own right – and then hike several miles, or up to 5 1/2 miles, of the old highway that winds its way through the most recent lava flows.

We went about two miles out and back, probably saw 25 wild goats, only a few hikers and lovely views of the ocean at almost every turn. Plan to take water – for this can be a hot and dry trek. The bay is also a great snorkeling destination, but get there early in the morning when the water is still calm.

The old Pali Road, built about 1900, by prison labor, offered over 100 hair-pin turns in its rocky five-mile length.

The old Pali Road: Heading north on the island, from the Ma’alaea Boat Harbor to Lahaina, you can find about 5 miles of the old Pali Highway. It parallels the modern road; you’ll see old rock terraces, sections of the old highway, culverts and several bridges remaining from the road, built by prison labor right around 1900. I’ve hiked several stretches of the old highway – it’s blacktop still in good shape in a number of places – but only about 1 1/2 lanes wide, featuring over 100 sharp turns jammed into that brief mileage. It must’ve been a multi-hour, pokey but scenic drive back in the day. The tunnel on the new highway is marked “1951”, so I’d assume the new road opened then and orphaned the old, slower roadway.

It remains a good hike – and also intersects the old King’s Highway, so additional trekking options present themselves.

Read the Record and my Record blog next week for my full feature on our recent Maui visit – “exploring Maui on a budget” (it can be found on the blog site early next Wednesday, and in the Record newspaper on Thursday!).  Thanks for reading!

Old Pali Road winds a rocky, over-grown way through Maui's rocky hills, headed to Lahaina.

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook or Twitter; or, email him at Happy travels in your world!


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