makawao forest biking

Maui mountain biking

I didn’t bring my bike when I moved to Maui.  I didn’t think I would want it.  I’d never been to Hawaii before and everything I knew of the islands came from Jurassic Park and Lost.  I pictured beaches, beaches and impenetrable rain forest.  I knew there were mountains, but I thought they’d be so steep and covered in jungle that no one in their right mind would bike down them.  I figured I’d learn to surf, or kite board.  I wasn’t worried.

After I’d been here for about six months I started to miss biking.  A lot.  Surfing was fun, but I wanted to go really fast for longer than a few seconds.  I wanted to brush elbows with trees, smell piney air and dust, and feel my body compress as I whipped around a berm.  I wanted to ride a bike.

I went to some bike shops and asked around but everyone was really secretive.  I’d get vague answers about good trails somewhere on Haleakala, or redirected toward the road biking groups that met every Wednesday and needed more riders.  On this small island in the middle of the Pacific, nobody wanted to give up the goods.

Makawao forest biking

Finally I had a break through.  I was walking my dog on the beach and asked a fellow dog walker if she knew of any Upcountry hikes you could take dogs on.

“Yeah,” she said.  “The Makawao Forest Reserve is great.  There are a lot of trails, the trees are beautiful, and the air is about 10 degrees cooler than down here, but you have to watch out for all the bikers.”

Bingo.  Bikers.  I got directions, rented a sweet full suspension Maui mountain bike rental from the Krank Cycles, and headed out.  I couldn’t believe it.  Just 45 minutes from Kihei were miles of mountain biking trails.  Pine trees.  Dust.  Single track.  Yes!

Local riders (Maui Mountain Bike Coalition) very skilled at trail building had connected the obvious multi-use trails in the Reserve  with windy, single track that narrowly missed trees and used the natural lay of the land to create fun drops, berms, and log rides.  A few of the trails were too advanced for me, with large gap jumps and big drops, but most were right up my alley.  I grinned the whole way home.

After that first day I called my brother and told him to pack up my bike and ship it out here.  It arrived a few weeks later and I headed back out.  The more I biked, the more bikers I met, and the more I learned about the trails.  Once I figured out where to go on my own, I was in the club, and people were very willing to share.  Turns out Maui isn’t just about surfing, beaches, and jungle – there are bikers too.

By Megan Edgar, Staff Writer

Maui bike trail