Why you should do it: Popular hike takes you along the rim of Waimea Canyon and to the top of Waipoo Falls
Area: Waimea Canyon
Trail Length: 1.8 miles from the highway (one way)
Location at Google Maps
One of the more popular trails on the island of Kauai, the Canyon Trail takes hikers along the edge of Waimea Canyon to the top of Waipoo Falls. The trail offers dramatic views of Waimea Canyon, though the big draw of the trail is the epic experience at the top of the falls.
Canyon Trail Photos
The adventure begins at Halemanu Road at Koke’e State Park. There is parking across the street on HWY 550. Those with 4-wheel drive vehicles can take Halemanu Road to the actual trail head to save time and walking.
When dry, Halemanu Road is in relatively good condition and we’ve seen more than a few 2-wheel drive vehicles navigate the road. Be advised that most rental car companies on the island forbid driving on dirt roads.
The actual trail head starts at the end of Halemanu Road where there is a parking area.
The first part of the trail is up and down through a light forest. The trail can be very slippery when wet. In this first part, you will soon see the Cliff Trail on the right. This will take you to the Puu Hinahina Lookout.
After the Cliff Trail junction you will see the Black Pipe Trail. This trail loops back around to Halemanu Road.
Shortly after the Black Pipe Trail junction you will walk along the canyon rim. Be extra cautious on this part as it can be slippery with loose dirt when dry or mud conditions when wet.
The trail descends when you get to the end of the exposed red dirt area along the canyon rim. You are almost to Waipoo Falls!
These unusual rock formations are said to be natural.
The canyon floor.
After descending from the rim the vegetation becomes thicker due to the water from Kokee Stream. At the bottom, a trail to the left leads to the upper, smaller waterfall. The trail to the right leads to the top of Waipoo Falls.
The upper waterfall.
At the top of Waipoo Falls!
The Canyon Trail and the Cliff Trail are often confused and used interchangeably. This map at the Kokee Museum shows the actual locations of the two trails. For the most part, the Cliff Trail leads down from the Puu Hinahina Lookout and is unnecessary if the goal is to reach the falls. The most convenient way to visit the falls is to drive down Halemanu Road as far as you can go to the parking area then hike the rest of the way. If you start the hike at HWY 550 you will be walking down a dirt road for about 3/4 of a mile, then back up on the way back.