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Canyon Trail To Waipo’o Falls (Pu’u Hinahina)


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Genni Haskins



Welcome to the enchanting adventure of the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls, also known as Pu’u Hinahina. Prepare to be immersed in the breathtaking beauty of the Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” This exhilarating hike will take you on a thrilling journey through lush greenery, towering cliffs, and a cascading waterfall.


The Waipo’o Falls is a hidden gem nestled within the iconic Waimea Canyon State Park on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Its pristine beauty, combined with the challenging yet rewarding trail, makes it a must-do adventure for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike.


As you traverse the Canyon Trail, be prepared to feast your eyes on panoramic vistas that will leave you in awe. From the vibrant hues of the canyon walls to the ever-changing colors of the vegetation, every step you take offers a mesmerizing view.


Discover the harmony of nature as you listen to the soothing sounds of birdsong and the distant rush of water. Immerse yourself in the serenity that comes from being surrounded by the untouched wilderness of the Kauai landscape.


Whether you are a seasoned hiker seeking a challenging trek or a casual adventurer in search of natural beauty, the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls offers an unforgettable experience. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your sense of wonder, and embark on an unforgettable journey through an enchanting Hawaiian paradise.


Overview of Waipo’o Falls

Waipo’o Falls is a magnificent waterfall located within the Waimea Canyon State Park on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. With a towering height of approximately 800 feet, it is a sight to behold. The falls are fed by the Waimea River, which flows down from the mountainous terrain of Kauai.


The name “Waipo’o” translates to “hidden water,” which perfectly encapsulates the allure and mystique of this natural wonder. The waterfall cascades down a series of terraced cliffs, creating a mesmerizing display of cascading water as it plunges into a pool below. The pool, surrounded by lush vegetation, provides a serene and idyllic setting.


Waipo’o Falls is not only a marvel to behold but also holds cultural significance for the Hawaiian people. It is considered a sacred site, with many locals and visitors alike paying their respects and acknowledging its spiritual importance.


The falls are best experienced during the rainy season, as this is when they are at their most majestic, with water rushing down in full force. However, even during drier seasons, the falls retain their beauty and charm, making it a year-round attraction.


As one of the most impressive waterfalls on the island, Waipo’o Falls draws nature enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers from all around the world. The opportunity to witness the power and grace of this natural spectacle is truly awe-inspiring.


It is important to note that while the beauty of Waipo’o Falls is undeniable, access to the base of the falls is restricted for safety reasons. Nevertheless, the Canyon Trail offers stunning viewpoints along the way, providing hikers with ample opportunities to marvel at the falls from a distance.


Embarking on the adventure of the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls is not just about witnessing a magnificent waterfall; it is about connecting with nature, embracing the spirit of exploration, and immersing oneself in the grandeur of Kauai’s natural landscapes.


Location and Access

Waipo’o Falls is located within the Waimea Canyon State Park, which is situated on the western side of Kauai, Hawaii. The park covers an expansive area, offering visitors a chance to explore the stunning landscapes and diverse flora and fauna that the region has to offer.


Getting to Waimea Canyon State Park is relatively easy. If you are coming from the town of Waimea, it is a short drive up Highway 550, also known as Waimea Canyon Drive. The park entrance is well-marked, making it convenient for visitors to find their way.


Visitors coming from other parts of the island, such as Lihue or Kapaa, can take Highway 50 westbound until they reach the junction with Highway 552. Follow the signs directing to Waimea Canyon Drive, and you will soon find yourself at the park entrance.


Parking is available at the Koke’e State Park, which is adjacent to Waimea Canyon State Park. There are designated parking areas where visitors can safely leave their vehicles before embarking on their hike to Waipo’o Falls.


It is important to note that a park entrance fee is required to access both Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park. The fee can be paid at the entrance kiosk and is used to support the maintenance and preservation of the parks.


Once inside the park, visitors can access the Canyon Trail, which leads to Waipo’o Falls. The trail is clearly marked and well-maintained, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hiking experience for all adventurers. The trailhead is easily accessible from the parking area, and hikers can begin their journey to the falls with ease.


Overall, the location of Waipo’o Falls within the scenic Waimea Canyon State Park makes it a convenient and accessible destination for nature lovers and hikers alike. So grab your hiking gear, prepare to be amazed, and get ready to discover the beauty that awaits at Waipo’o Falls!


Trailhead Information

The trailhead for the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls is located within the Waimea Canyon State Park on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. It is easily accessible from the park’s parking area, making it convenient for hikers to begin their adventure.


The trailhead is clearly marked and well-maintained, ensuring that hikers can easily find their way. There are informational signs at the trailhead providing details about the trail, safety guidelines, and points of interest along the way.


Prior to starting the hike, it is recommended to obtain a trail map from the visitor center or research the route beforehand. This will help you familiarize yourself with the trail and plan your journey accordingly.


The hike to Waipo’o Falls begins at an elevation of approximately 3,600 feet and gradually descends into the canyon as you make your way towards the falls. The total round-trip distance of the hike is approximately 3 miles, taking an average of 2-3 hours to complete.


As you commence the hike, be prepared for a moderate level of difficulty. The trail consists of uneven terrain and gradual inclines, requiring a reasonable level of fitness and proper hiking footwear. It is also important to stay on the marked trail to ensure your safety and minimize environmental impact.


Throughout the hike, there are designated lookout points that provide stunning vistas of the Waimea Canyon and its surrounding landscapes. These viewpoints offer fantastic photo opportunities, so be sure to have your camera ready to capture the beauty of the scenery.


As with any outdoor adventure, it is essential to come prepared. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, as well as snacks or a packed lunch to refuel along the way. Sunscreen and a hat are also recommended, as the trail offers limited shade in some sections.


Additionally, check the local weather conditions before setting off on your hike. While the weather in Kauai is generally pleasant, it can change quickly in the mountains, so it’s best to be prepared for varying weather conditions.


Overall, the trailhead for the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls provides hikers with easy access to an unforgettable adventure. With proper planning and preparation, you can embark on a memorable journey through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Waimea Canyon State Park, leading you to the captivating beauty of Waipo’o Falls.


Trail Description

The Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls is a captivating hiking experience that takes you through the scenic wonders of Waimea Canyon State Park. As you embark on this trail, be prepared to witness breathtaking views, lush vegetation, and the soothing sounds of nature.


The trail begins at an elevation of approximately 3,600 feet and gradually descends into the canyon. Initially, you will walk along a well-maintained path surrounded by dense vegetation, including towering trees and vibrant ferns. As you make your way deeper into the canyon, the trail begins to wind its way through rocky terrain, offering occasional glimpses of the vast canyon below.


Throughout the hike, you will encounter various stages of the trail, including sections with gentle slopes and occasional steep descents. Some parts of the trail may be uneven or narrow, requiring caution and attention. However, the overall trail is moderate in difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of different skill levels.


As you continue your journey, the sights and sounds of the canyon will unfold before your eyes. Marvel at the immense scale of the canyon walls, adorned with vibrant hues of red, orange, and green. Take in the rich diversity of the flora and fauna that call this majestic landscape home.


Approximately halfway through the hike, you will reach impressive lookout points that provide panoramic views of the Waimea Canyon. These viewpoints offer a glimpse into the vastness and natural splendor of this geological wonder, allowing you to appreciate the sheer magnitude and grandeur of the canyon.


As you near the end of the trail, the sound of rushing water grows louder, signaling the presence of Waipo’o Falls. While access to the base of the falls is restricted for safety reasons, you can still admire the splashing cascade from a distance. The natural beauty and power of the waterfall are awe-inspiring, creating a truly unforgettable sight.


After taking in the magnificence of Waipo’o Falls, you can retrace your steps back to the trailhead, enjoying the scenery in reverse until you reach your starting point. The hike back offers a different perspective, allowing you to appreciate the intricacies of the terrain from a new angle.


As you complete the trail, take a moment to reflect on the remarkable journey you have undertaken. The Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls offers a harmonious blend of adventure, natural beauty, and tranquility. It is an experience that will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature.


Scenic Views along the Canyon Trail

The Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls presents hikers with a myriad of scenic views that showcase the natural splendor of Waimea Canyon State Park. Every step of the journey is accompanied by breathtaking vistas and picturesque landscapes that will leave you in awe.


As you descend into the canyon, you will be treated to panoramic views of the vast Waimea Canyon itself. The vibrant red and orange hues of the canyon walls create a dramatic backdrop that contrasts beautifully with the lush greenery that surrounds you. Take a moment to pause and marvel at the sheer grandeur and magnitude of this geological wonder.


Along the trail, there are designated lookout points that offer stunning perspectives of the canyon and its intricate layers. From these vantage points, you can capture sweeping photographs that showcase the depth and majesty of the landscape. These viewpoints also provide an opportunity to fully appreciate the scale and enormity of the canyon, reminding you of the powerful forces of nature.


Aside from the captivating views of the canyon itself, the trail also meanders through a diverse range of vegetation. Towering trees, including native koa and ohia, create a verdant canopy overhead, providing shade and adding to the enchanting atmosphere. As you hike, you may encounter delicate ferns, vibrant wildflowers, and other unique flora that thrive in this pristine environment.


The trail offers glimpses of Kauai’s scenic beauty at every turn. As you traverse the rocky terrain, you may catch sight of cascading streams weaving their way through the landscape. The glistening water adds a touch of serenity and tranquility to the already captivating scenery.


Keep an eye out for native bird species that call this area home. From the melodious songs of the Hawaiian honeycreeper to the graceful movements of the nene (Hawaiian goose), the flora and fauna of the canyon create a symphony of nature that enhances the overall experience as you hike.


As you approach the end of the trail, the beauty of Waipo’o Falls reveals itself. Though you may not have access to the base of the falls, the cascading water from a distance is still a mesmerizing sight. The sound of rushing water and mist in the air add an ethereal quality to the scene, making it a truly enchanting moment.


Throughout the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls, the scenic views serve as a constant reminder of the raw beauty and power of nature. The ever-changing landscapes, vibrant colors, and captivating vistas create a sensory experience that will stay with you long after the hike is over.


Wildlife and Vegetation

The Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls is not only a feast for the eyes but also a haven for wildlife and a diverse range of vegetation. As you explore this enchanting trail, you will encounter a rich tapestry of flora and fauna that bring the natural wonders of Waimea Canyon State Park to life.


The vegetation along the trail is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of plant life in this rugged landscape. Towering trees, such as the native koa and ohia, dominate the canopy, their branches reaching towards the sky. These ancient trees provide shade and create a lush environment for a variety of plant species to thrive.


As you journey deeper into the canyon, you will encounter lush ferns, delicate wildflowers, and vibrant mosses clinging to the rocks. These small yet resilient plants add pops of color and texture to the landscape, creating a visually stunning backdrop for your hike.


Keep an eye out for the ‘iliahi, or Hawaiian sandalwood, which gives off a mesmerizing fragrance as you pass by. This aromatic tree holds cultural significance and has been used for various purposes by the Hawaiian people for centuries.


In addition to the diverse vegetation, Waimea Canyon State Park is also home to a variety of bird species. The native Hawaiian honeycreepers, such as the ‘apapane and ‘i’iwi, can be spotted flitting among the trees, their vibrant feathers adding splashes of color to the green foliage.


One of the most iconic bird species found in the area is the nene, or Hawaiian goose. With its distinctive honking call, this endangered species adds to the unique charm of the trail. Keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful birds as they roam the open areas near the trail.


Other wildlife you may encounter along the Canyon Trail includes the agile mountain goats, known as mouflon, which are often seen perched on the cliff faces. These impressive creatures effortlessly navigate the steep terrain of the canyon, showcasing their strength and adaptability.


It is important to respect the native wildlife and observe them from a safe distance. Avoid feeding or disturbing the animals, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and ecosystem.


As you immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and natural wonders of the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls, take the time to appreciate the intricate balance of wildlife and vegetation that thrives in this remarkable environment. It is a testament to the resilience and diversity of life in the face of challenging conditions, and a reminder of our responsibility to preserve and protect these natural treasures.


Safety Tips for Hiking

When embarking on the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls, it is important to prioritize safety to ensure a pleasant and incident-free hiking experience. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Come prepared: Before starting your hike, make sure you have the necessary equipment and supplies. Wear proper hiking shoes or boots that provide traction and support. Carry a backpack with essentials such as water, snacks, a map, a first aid kit, sun protection, and insect repellent.
  2. Stay on the trail: The trail is clearly marked for a reason. Straying off the designated path can be dangerous and harm the fragile ecosystem. Follow the trail markers and signs to ensure you stay on the right path and avoid any potential hazards.
  3. Stay hydrated: Hiking in the Hawaiian climate can be physically demanding, so it is essential to stay hydrated. Carry an ample supply of water and drink regularly to prevent dehydration. Consider electrolyte drinks to replenish your body’s hydration and mineral levels.
  4. Be aware of weather conditions: Check the weather forecast before heading out on your hike. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather, as conditions in the mountains can differ from those at lower elevations. Carry appropriate rain gear and dress in layers to accommodate changing temperatures.
  5. Practice sun safety: The Hawaiian sun can be intense, even on cloudy days. Protect yourself by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a hat, and sunglasses. Seek shade whenever possible and avoid hiking during the peak hours of sunlight.
  6. Watch your step: The terrain along the trail can be uneven and rocky. Pay attention to your footing and watch out for loose rocks or slippery surfaces. Take your time and maintain a steady pace to avoid tripping or slipping.
  7. Respect wildlife: While encountering wildlife can be exciting, it is important to observe them from a safe distance and refrain from feeding or approaching them. Respect their natural habitat and avoid disturbing their behavior.
  8. Let someone know: Before setting off on your hike, inform a friend or family member about your plans. Share your itinerary, including the estimated time of return. Consider carrying a mobile phone for emergencies, but be aware that cell service may be limited or unavailable in some areas.
  9. Listen to your body: Hiking can be physically demanding, and everyone’s fitness level is different. Pay attention to how you are feeling and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Take breaks when needed and listen to your body’s signals.
  10. Leave no trace: Respect the natural environment by leaving no trace of your visit. Pack out all trash and litter, including food wrappers and other non-biodegradable items. Minimize your impact on the ecosystem and leave the trail as you found it.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience on the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls. Remember to always prioritize your well-being and be mindful of your surroundings, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of this enchanting Hawaiian paradise.


Recommended Gear

Having the right gear can greatly enhance your hiking experience on the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls. Here are some recommended items to consider packing for your adventure:

  1. Hiking shoes or boots: Choose footwear that provides good support, traction, and protection for your feet. Opt for shoes or boots specifically designed for hiking to navigate the uneven terrain and rocky sections of the trail.
  2. Backpack: Select a comfortable backpack with a capacity that suits your needs. It should have enough space to carry essentials such as water, snacks, a map, a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and any additional personal items you may require.
  3. Water: Carry an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the hike. The amount can vary depending on weather conditions and the duration of your hike. A hydration bladder or water bottles can be used to ensure you have enough water to sustain you.
  4. Snacks or packed lunch: Fuel your body with nutritious snacks or a packed lunch to keep your energy levels up during the hike. Choose lightweight and non-perishable options such as trail mix, energy bars, sandwiches, or fruits.
  5. Map and compass: Familiarize yourself with the route before setting out and carry a detailed trail map. A compass can also be useful for navigation, especially if you encounter unexpected conditions or need to orient yourself.
  6. Sun protection: Shield yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF. A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, breathable clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) are also recommended to protect your skin from sunburn.
  7. Rain gear: Be prepared for sudden changes in weather by packing a lightweight rain jacket or poncho. This will help keep you dry during unexpected rain showers or misty conditions in the canyon.
  8. Insect repellent: Depending on the time of year and local conditions, mosquitoes and other insects may be present. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin surfaces to protect yourself from bites.
  9. First aid kit: Carry a basic first aid kit that includes essentials such as adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, blister treatments, pain relievers, and any personal medications you may require.
  10. Camera: Capture the beauty of Waimea Canyon and Waipo’o Falls with a camera or smartphone. Preserve your memories and share the stunning landscapes with others.

Remember to pack your gear efficiently, distribute weight evenly in your backpack, and consider the conditions and duration of your hike when deciding what to bring. By being prepared with the recommended gear, you can enhance your comfort and enjoyment during your hike on the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls.



The Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls is a captivating adventure that immerses you in the natural wonders of Waimea Canyon State Park on the beautiful island of Kauai. As you traverse the trail, you will be enthralled by breathtaking views, lush vegetation, and the soothing sounds of nature.


This hike offers a unique opportunity to explore the awe-inspiring Waimea Canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The vibrant colors of the canyon walls, the cascading waterfalls, and the diverse plant life all combine to create an unforgettable experience.


Throughout the trail, you will encounter spectacular lookout points that offer panoramic vistas, allowing you to fully appreciate the majesty of the canyon. The opportunity to witness the power and grace of Waipo’o Falls from a distance is a truly magical moment that will leave you in awe.


As you hike, you will also have the chance to connect with the natural environment and the unique wildlife that calls this area home. From the melodies of native birds to the tranquil beauty of native flora, the trail offers a sensory journey through this incredible ecosystem.


It is important to approach this adventure with safety in mind, ensuring you have the proper gear, stay hydrated, and are mindful of your physical limits. Following safety guidelines and respecting the environment will ensure a pleasant and incident-free hike.


The Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls is not just a hike; it is a transformative experience that allows you to disconnect from the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. It is an opportunity to replenish your spirit, awaken your senses, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your sense of adventure, and embark on this mesmerizing journey through the stunning landscapes of Waimea Canyon. Discover the magic of Waipo’o Falls and let the natural wonders of Kauai leave an indelible mark on your heart.