Spring Escapes: Tropical Hiking On Maui, Snow-Filled Family Time at Alta

kipahulu haleakala national park

brave ski mom logoThis was originally an Adventure Moms column for Women’s Adventure.

When I wrote it in January 2013, we were enjoying our 24th consecutive day of temperatures under 24 degrees (yes, this is Fahrenheit and yes, I was counting and yes, the cold streak continued).

While I love to write about skiing, it was a welcome relief to remember and relive hiking in Haleakala National Park.

Although I written about Alta Lodge before, their Spring Kids Free special is worth another mention.

The Pipiwai Trail, Haleakala National Park

At the risk of repeating myself, I love National Parks and one of my favorites is Haleakala National Park on Maui.

A huge park with stunning diversity, Haleakala spans the barren 10,023 foot crest of the Haleakala volcano before tumbling, rambling and dipping down to sea level through dense jungle and exotic bamboo forest. While many visitors drive to the top of the dormant volcano (where the temperatures can be frosty even during summer) for the views and exotic moonscape, I suggest  hiking the Pipiwai Trail near Hana.

pipiwai bamboo forest mauiFound in the oceanside Kipahulu area of the park, the Pipiwai Trail is perfect for families.

In a mellow four-mile round trip, the trail winds up the ‘Ohe’o Gulch, across bridges, past picture-perfect pools and through breathtaking stands of giant bamboo. Two miles in, you’l find the spectacular 400 foot Waimoku Falls.

As lovely as these falls are, we prefer the exoticism of the giant bamboo. So unlike the aspen, fir and pine of Colorado, this ecosystem transports us to a place of wonder and fantasy. The bamboo makes each step along the trail an adventure.

There is a Visitors Center at Kipahulu, 12 miles past the village of Hana on the  leeward side of Maui. The road to Hana is slow, winding and carsick making, redeemed only by beautiful scenery. Spend the night in Hana or at the NPS campground. For a memorable snack, look for authentic shave ice stands along the road between the Park and Hana. These are so much better than a snowcone. Finally, please note that ocean swimming in this area is very dangerous.

For more information, please visit the Haleakala National Park website.

Alta and the Alta Lodge

As much as I love national parks, I also love skiing at Alta.

alta glow utah

A big mountain in a tiny town, families who visit Alta are there, pure and simple, for the skiing.  The terrain is varied, from smooth, groomed beginner runs to challenging chutes off of knee-jarring traverses. In between these extremes, there are plenty of intermediate and advanced runs. Most seasons, you can bet on deep snow and blues skies.

There are few overnight accommodations in tiny Alta, but you’ll want to make the effort to stay overnight. Each of the five lodges at Alta is all-inclusive serving delicious meals in a family-friendly manner. The lodges also have lively après ski bars and plenty of other diversions on site, including hot tubs, swimming pools and ping-pong.

chilling at alta lodge

Because you’ll be eating and playing where you are staying, there are no debates about where or when to eat and no worries about what to do next. Time slows down, and I believe, our hearts open up. All that matters, whether we’re playing a board game or watching sports in a common room with other guests, is that we’re together.

Last winter, we visited Alta Lodge. Offering an active, fun on-site kids’ program and an optional children’s dinner program, the Lodge is highly regarded by families. While kids are always welcome to dine with their parents, the kids’ dinner gives mom and dad time to enjoy a drink in the Sitzmark Club or a quiet meal later in the evening. During the day, the Lodge shuttles kids to and from ski school, so that mom and dad can rip the chutes, or read a book, on their own schedule.

The Alta Lodge kids’ programs are available all season. In April however, spring skiing at Alta becomes nearly irresistible, with kids 12 and under staying and eating free! 


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© 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.


  1. Julie says

    We have so many wonderful family memories at Alta and I agree–Spring is amazing there! We’ve had many spring break trips with sun and blue skies and of course the amazing Utah snow! The ski school gives the kids ice cream on Fridays and there is an Alta in April spring festival with all kinds of activities. Alta is a magical spot that is for sure. We are taking an adult trip this year as my husband is going on the Interconnect Tour with some friends and the girls are totally bummed. Hopefully next year :)

    • says

      I am sure they’re bummed, but I’m excited for your Interconnect trip! I think you start at Deer Valley? We were just there and loved it! You’ll have to let me know how it goes! Enjoy!