March 2019 – Waimea Canyon – Canyon Trail

Y’all, look at this:

THAT IS REAL. And I got to see it with my own two eyes!

You can also find the Waimea Canyon video on our YouTube Channel!

What a flipping treat to visit Waimea Canyon while we were in Kauai. It’s known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and sakes alive it must be true. Like I mentioned in my Kauai overview post, I’ve never witnessed the Grand Canyon of the Mainland(?), but if it’s anywhere near as spectacular, it’s worth the drive.

I just can’t get enough. Those vistas!!!

Down to brass tax though: we took the Canyon Trail from the parking lot of the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, all the way to the main ridge. Ben kept going for a bit longer towards the waterfall, but I hung back. It’s about 1.6 miles to the point I stopped at, but going all the way down is approximately 1.8 miles. With all of the out-and-backs, we actually ended up going somewhere in the ballpark of 6 miles. It’s no joke!

The first tenth to quarter of a mile is fairly mild, but with tree roots all over the place, so be careful not to trip on those! After the forest of tree roots, all bets are off and it is downhill for a WHILE! Be on the lookout for easier routes. We saw some folks take an obvious short-cut and fall flat on their rumps because it was much too steep. If they had just kept going straight, there were steps and a gradual decline. This isn’t always possible though.

There’s one small stream to cross with a rope to help guide, although we used the fronds on the ground to keep us mostly dry. Once over the stream it’s uphill a ways, until things level out the Waipo’o Falls parking lot comes into view. My understanding is that this lot is best for those in 4×4 vehicles, but it does cut out a chunk of trail.

Past the parking lot, there’s an opportunity to take the Cliff Trail Lookout. It’s not too long and even has a guard rail. It was a nice out and back, to prepare ourselves for what came next.

Worth. It. There’s some severe downhill trodding before one last incline to the ridge. Then: boom! The ridge circles around and from what I’m told, there’s a path that goes down farther. I stopped and took in the sights. No need to hurt myself or feel extra-anxious. Have I mentioned my fear of heights and ledges before? Yeah. That’s real. So I stayed as close to the vegetation as possible.

We posted up in the shade, had a snack, drank copious amounts of water, took some pictures, and then made our way back. Uphill never felt so good!

What to Pack:

  • Water – I can’t believe how many people were empty-handed out there. Always take water.
  • Snacks – We got little trail mix packs at Costco. Easy to carry around and just enough for a quick snack on the ridge.
  • Sunscreen & Bug Spray – Please protect yourself! There’s a fair amount of exposure during the hike, and you’re also among trees and shrubs. I tend to sunscreen THEN bug spray.
  • Hiking Shoes – how do people hike in ballet flats?? My feet would be killing me in no time! We went in our running shoes and it wasn’t too bad, but I wish I would have taken my regular hiking boots! Live and learn.

Conditions:

Started: ~11am; Mostly sunny with passing clouds

Finished: ~1pm; Still sunny, slightly humid

**Since it was sunny and dry when we were on our Waimea Canyon hike, conditions were VERY different than if it was raining/muddy on the trail. Be careful and remember that weather can change quickly.

Happy Hiking!

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