Personally, I was not interested in driving the back road to Hana, with one of my main concerns being alone and driving or falling off a cliff. 😜
I also didn’t want to be driving straight on and encounter cars coming straight at me. (I didn’t want to drive in reverse right off a cliff. 😜)
Walking the back road to Hana
And so, I walked the back road to Hana!
Part of it anyway.
If you are staying overnight in Hana (like at a Waianapanapa State Park cabin!) then you can similarly do this walk by parking at the Haleakala National Park Kipahulu parking lot. (Save your Haleakala National Park pass since there’s an entry fee! Or get a Hawaii national park pass.)
I made a day of it and walked the back road to Hana from the Kipahulu Campground with the Kaupo General Store as my “destination.”
I think I walked more than 15 miles that day. I also stopped by Huialoha Church.
I’m sure for most people that is too much to walk.
If you’re interested in walking the back road to Hana as well, to make it a little shorter, you can make Alelele Falls your “destination”!
It seems like from the Kipahulu Campground (and Kipahulu Visitor Center) to Alelele Falls would be a little over 7 miles round trip.
And the “hike” (walk) won’t be just for the waterfalls. If a Maui hike with amazing views sounds like your kind of hike, then it will be worth it!
So although you are not on a typical “hiking trail,” you can think of this as a solid day hike on Maui with amazing views! The Hana Highway will be the “trail”! There will be grand coastal views as you are walking.
Since you’ll be walking on a mostly paved or gravel road on the Hana Highway, it’s really not all that strenuous in terms of terrain.
And since it is a rather remote area (with the occasional car passing by), you’ll also want to be prepared with your Hawaii hiking essentials!
Driving to Alelele Falls
If you have read about the back road to Hana and you feel reasonably comfortable driving this portion of the Hana Highway, then you can also drive directly to the Alelele Falls trailhead.
There are a few areas that you can park near the Alelele Falls trailhead. When you’re facing the mountains, the parking spots will be on the left side of the Alelele Bridge.
How long is the Alelele Falls Trail?
Alelele Falls is a pretty short waterfall hike. You could complete the hike (there and back) in 20-30 minutes. But of course if you want to spend time at the waterfalls you can be there much longer! (There’s a good chance you’ll be alone at the waterfalls!)
I went to Alelele Falls on my way back to Kipahulu, so by the time I started the Alelele Falls Trail, I had probably walked close to 12 miles. (I also did a little extra walking by going to the grounds of the small Huialoha Church located on a small peninsula in Kaupo – recommended as a quiet scenic stop if you’ll be in the area and looking for stops on the back road to Hana!)
So I was hiking at quite a leisurely pace on the Alelele Falls Trail. And, according to the time stamps on my pictures, it took me about 7 minutes to get to Alelele Falls. So, you could probably easy do this hike in 15-20 minutes if you don’t spend want to spend much time at the waterfalls… if the conditions are good!
The Alelele Falls are… waterfalls. And the hike mostly follows a stream. Both of these things mean that flash flooding can be a risk! So, take care! And it’s always good to check Maui County weather alerts before you head out for the day if you have waterfalls in your day’s plans.
More below on a bit of what it’s like to get to Alelele Falls!
More photos/info below, but first...
Most people do the Road to Hana as a day trip.
But you can stay overnight in Hana too so you can take your time exploring the lush and quiet East Maui!
Best places to stay in Hana:
It's very possible to do the Road to Hana on your own, but you can also leave the planning to someone else.
Road to Hana tours:
- Classic Road to Hana: Guided Road to Hana tour with lunch
- Road to Hana from above: Road to Hana helicopter and waterfalls tour
- Private luxury tour: Road to Hana private tour in luxury SUV
Getting to Alelele Falls Trail: Alelele Bridge
So your landmark for finding the starting point of the trail to Alelele Falls will be Alelele Bridge.
Alelele Falls is not marked on google maps at the time I write this, but Alelele Bridge is. So for google maps you can look for Alelele Bridge. It can be a good idea to download free offline google maps before you go.
Or, if you forget to do that, then with every bridge you come across on the back road to Hana, you can look to see if it says Alelele Bridge. The bridge is marked with the name. It’s a simple bridge.
You can see the Alelele Stream from the bridge.
Alelele black sand beach?!
Right near Alelele Bridge there’s a small beach.
It’s mostly rocky, but you could see a small part of the beach was sandy too.
Now, maybe it’s because the sand was wet, but it looked like this was a small black sand beach!
Where to find the Alelele Falls trailhead
So once you have arrived at Alelele Bridge, as you are facing the mountains, the start of the Alelele Falls Trail will be on the right side of the bridge.
Hiking the trail to Alelele Falls
And then off you go to hike to Alelele Falls!
What shoes to wear hiking to Alelele Falls
Trail reviews mention that the hike to Alelele Falls does have a stream crossing.
How much water you will wade through will depend on the water level at the time.
I don’t particularly remember much about the stream crossing actually, so I think it must have been low enough water level at the time I went.
You may want to bring your daypack along with water shoes in them just in case.
If you have waterproof hiking boots or hiking sandals, these may also work out.
And that’s a bit about the short waterfall hike to Alelele Falls!
See more about driving the back road to Hana.
Plus see the big list of stops to make on the Road to Hana!
And also about walking the West Maui back road!
HAPPY SEEING WATERFALLS OFF THE HANA HIGHWAY ON THE BACK ROAD TO HANA!
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