Wow, I’ve lived here 15 years and only just learned that the official name for the Olinda Forest is actually the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve. What ever name you know it by it is a great place to get out of the summer heat (it is above 3,000 feet) and have fun with the kids. The forest is found near the top of Olinda road, on the right, just after the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. For those unfamiliar with Up Country, Olinda Road is a beautiful road (reminds me of English countryside) and is the one that goes up the mountain from the crossroads in Makawao between Casanovas and Pollie’s (the forest is 15 mins up).
Here’s a little Maui history for you, originally that land was grazing land, but in 1909 the Waihou Spring Forest Reserve was established by the Governor for the purpose of protecting the sources of Waihou Spring (one of the few perennial springs on the west slope of Haleakalā). They planted an experimental pine forest, although you can also find other timber, such as, Monterey cypress, eucalyptus trees, ash and redwood, as well as the native tree species `ala`a, halapepe, and koa. (It smells great and really fresh).
When you get to the forest, which is mainly pine at the beginning, you won’t miss the parking area to your right just before the entrance gate. There is a wide path carpeted with pine needles and cones, that will take you into the forest. About 10 minutes in you come to a fallen tree, cross over it, and continue to take the path to the right. A few minutes later you will come to a fork, which will be sign posted. You can either keep going and take the loop, which takes about half an hour, and ends where the fallen tree is, or take a right, down to the overlook point and springs.
If you took a right and get down to the overlook (here you will find a plank bench and an awesome peek a view of the north shore) and your limbs, buns and keiki are up for it there is a steep hike, switch back style, down to the rock tunnels. Bring your Ergo if you are going to contemplate this with small children, as they may get tired quickly on the way back up, oh and don’t forget water and snacks!
When you get to the bottom you find yourself at a dry stream where a water fall used to be. It is behind this waterfall that these small water diversion tunnels were made. It can be a little sketchy in parts as the tunnels weave in and out of the cliff’s side, so this is a good time to teach common sense. When my children were littler they got a kick out of just going in a few feet. Bring a flash light, if you really want to go exploring. Besides the tunnels, the forest is awesome any time of year, (if you remember, it is a great place to take some fairly seasonal pics at Christmas ) or just have a fun game of Hide and Seek, Scavanger Hunt or a safe place the kids can run around like headless chickens to their hearts content. Either way it is just another great place you can hike and explore here.
Image Credit: Joanna Tano Photography