Maui News

Pipiwai Trail Remains Closed Following Fatal Rockslide

June 1, 2011, 10:06 AM HST
* Updated June 3, 4:03 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Editor’s Note: The Pipiwai Trail has now been re-opened.

East Maui coastline, file photo by Wendy Osher.

(Update: 10:06 a.m. 6/1/11)

The Pipiwai Trail in Kipahulu remained closed today following yesterday’s fatal rockslide that killed an 8-year-old Maui girl. Heavy rains in the area also forced the closure of Oheo Gulch below the trail this morning, due to flash flooding conditions in East Maui.

Park officials say the trail will remain closed to visitors while the investigation continues.  Details and circumstances surrounding the incident remain under investigation.

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County authorities said the rockslide occurred at around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 in the vicinity of Waimoku Falls on the popular Pipiwai Trail at the park’s Kipahulu District in East Maui.

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Park staff immediately responded to the scene after they were notified of the incident by Maui County dispatchers.  The victim’s family and park staff were later assisted by Maui County Police and Fire/Rescue personnel.

“Our hearts go out to the family during this difficult time and we are grateful for the valuable support provided by our partners at Maui County Police and Fire Rescue services,” said Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

The Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park is located about 10 miles past Hana Town and is a popular destination for local residents of East Maui and for approximately 550,000 visitors each year.

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The Pipiwai Trail is a popular park trail mauka (mountain-side) of the Hana Highway 31. The approximately 2 mile long trail (one-way) increases 800 feet in elevation, passes the 184-foot waterfall at Makahiku, winds through alien bamboo and guava forests and ends at the base of 400-foot high Waimoku Falls.

The National Park Service reminds visitors to the area of the unpredictable conditions of the stream, and the frequency of flash flooding.

“Visitors should be prepared and aware of weather conditions,” said Navnit Singh, Chief of Interpretation & Education at Haleakala National Park.  “It is a natural environment and natural environments are characterized with inherent risk,” said Singh, who noted that there had been several fatalities at the park over the years.

The Park website also notes that the conditions of the natural area have caused injury and death.

*** We will post an update as the information becomes available.

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