In traditional times, the area would have been covered in native forest including koa, ʻōhiʻa lehua, ti and kukui. Logging in the mid- to late-1800s resulted in the elimination of majority of the forest trees, which was later followed by cattle. By the 1870s, the Waihou Springs (‘new water’) area was probably cleared pasture land, with little to no native vegetation.
Unlike most Forest Reserves in the early-20th century, the land that was set aside for Waihou Spring Forest Reserve in 1909 was open grazing land rather than forested land. At the time, the spring had already been tunneled and its water was being piped to the lower reaches of the adjacent Haleakalā Ranch to water livestock. Today, it’s a popular day-use area with a well-used hiking trail.