Time 2-3 HOURS
Distance: 3.8 MILES
Elevation Gain: 1000 FEET
Traffic Density: MODERATE
Challenges: Muddy in some parts, Some steep downhills with loose dirt
Sights: Waimea Canyon, Waipoo Falls
What to Bring: Water, Sunscreen, Light Snack
An awesome way to experience Waimea Canyon, this loop hike is a pleasant downhill walk along a forested trail before reaching the Canyon Trail, a ridge trail that runs along the beautiful canyon. The trail continues downhill until you reach the top of Waipoo Falls, the majestic falls of the canyon. The hike then takes a different route back by going through the Black Pipe Trail, a forested trail with several switchbacks to regain the elevation and reach the start.
After my stunning hike at the Awa'awapuhi Trail in the morning and a solid lunch at the Koke'e Lodge restaurant, it was time for my last hike during my Kauai Trip. I knew I wanted to hike somewhere that gave me great views of Waimea Canyon (AKA the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific"), so the Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls was the route I chose. It was the perfect choice.
The trailhead starts just to the right of the Koke'e State Park sign. There is plenty of parking along the side of the road here.
This is the sign that separates Koke'e and Waimea Canyon state parks. The road to the Canyon Trail is the path to the right of the sign.
These are the trailheads in the Hale Manu Valley. If you do happen to have a solid 4WD, you can actually drive up some of this road. More motivation to rent a jeep!
The road isn't too exciting, but at least there is some shade.
But there's also some mud as well.
Pretty soon you will come to the first fork in the road. As shown by the sign, the trails start by taking a right. The Black Pipe Trail, which I took back to make this hike a loop, comes from the left fork.
After another few minutes of walking you will come to a clearing. I saw some people coming from a trail to the right but there was no sign. Naturally, I had to check it out.
I started regretting my decision as the trail led to a pretty tough uphill. At this point though, I had to find out where the trail went.
And the trail led to this, one of the several lookouts throughout the park. I simply could have saved my energy by driving to it.
But these views made me forget all about that. Absolutely stunning. It really did remind me of my trip to the Grand Canyon.
This sign gave me a better idea of the energy I had exerted. The unintentional detour to this lookout added about a mile to this hike (about 5 mile hike now). It would have been nice if I had seen this sign at the earlier junction... Oh well.
This was the other path at the earlier clearing where I had gone to the lookout. This will keep you on the Canyon Trail.
You soon reach another fork in the road. Despite my desire to get to Waipoo Falls, my curiosity got me again.
Luckily this time it was only a few minute detour before I got to see some views.
Detour was totally worth it. Now to get back on track.
And yet another fork. Going downhill and to the right will take you to the falls. If you go left, that will take you to the Black Pipe Trail (which I took later).
These boulders definitely made me feel like I was somewhere in the Midwest.
And finally I reached what I think is the major appeal of this trail. A nice dirt trail with views of the canyon and steep dropoffs.
Some of those dropoffs...
These views make any sort of risk in this hike worth the reward.
After walking along a little bit farther, you will reach the end of the ridge. Waipoo Falls is just beyond this cliff. You have to cut left to get on top of them.
Down we go to the falls. The downhills on this part of the trail were a bit steep.
One last fork in the road. The left will take you to a smaller waterfall that leads to the main falls. The right will take you directly to Waipoo Falls.
I went left first to check out the baby falls. Very pleasant, but not near as impressive as the main falls. You can still get to the main falls by going left.
You just have to cross this tree bridge.
And do a tiny bit of bushwacking.
But a few minutes later you will arrive at Waipoo Falls. I love this shot of the Australian couple looking out into the canyon.
There was some pretty good flow leading up to the edge, even on such a dry day.
This is what you can see if you walk close to the edge. The waterfall is actually a decent size, but if you look at it from the lookout on the other side of the canyon, it looks tiny in comparison to the canyon.
I found a good spot to the right of the location in the above picture for a good shot of the water flowing over the edge. An amazing waterfall in an amazingly beautiful canyon like this makes you really appreciate the wonders of mother nature. I really didn't want to leave this place.
But leave I must as I had a flight to catch back to Oahu. I decided to take the Black Pipe Trail back at that earlier fork to make this a loop hike.
It turned out to be a very uneventful walk back compared to what I had just seen. But there were a few more forks that could get you lost. Take a left here.
And another left here.
And finally you will make it back to that initial fork in the road where the canyon trail started.
Which means you will have to circumvent this mud once again (I can only assume this is always here).
But after a short uphill climb, you will make it back to the road, signifying the end of your journey. For me it signified the end of an amazing 3 day trip to the magical Garden Island of Kauai.
Check out my video of my journey to Waipoo Falls!
Have you seen the Grand Canyon of the Pacific? Post a comment below!
Also Check Out:
- Hawaii State Park's information about Waimea Canyon State Park
- Unreal Hawaii's post about all the lookouts in Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park