Waimea Canyon is a 12.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Wainiha, Kauai, Hawaii that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length12.9 miElevation gain3,838 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashBackpackingCampingHikingForestRiverViewsWildflowersWildlife
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This is a great hike down into the canyon. The trail is steep and in many places washed out due to erosion but still very navigable. The path goes from clear terrain to dense woods. It continues down to the town of Waimea. There are 10 river crossings. Trekking poles may come in handy. There are many frogs and several chickens, some goats and birds. This is like descending into the Grand Canyon on a smaller scale. Well worth the effort.

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Reviews (69)
Photos (224)
Activities (79)
Completed (259)
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Kim Drouillard
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Mountain bikingGreat!
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raul sanchez
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Hiking

Excellent hike, recommend stopping at the top of the canyon. Going down to the river bed is not worth it. Unless you have mosquito repellent.

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Cody Andrews
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Hiking

Stupid app sucks and continuously crashes and won’t continuously record my hike.

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Larry Wheeler
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Hiking

Biked down the Canyon. Beautiful views.

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CArp User
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No shadeRockyScramble
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Cassandra D
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HikingNo shade
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riley grywul
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HikingRocky
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Simon Guérard
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Hiking

Such a beautiful hike. Not sure it's worth going all the way to the river unless you camp there, or unless you will hike down there.

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Simon Guérard
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Hiking

It's about 2 hours down to the river, and 2 hours back up. The trail is fairly easy up to that point...but then. I don't know if it's because it had rained a lot, but following the river wasn't that easy, and involved A LOT of river crossing where hopping from one rock to the other isn't possible - got to have river crossing shoes. The views along the way were nice, but maybe not worth that effort.

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Key Key
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Hiking

Only did the first portion to the campsite and river and then back up. First half of the way down was beautiful. Once you get to the tree line it was far less exciting. I probably wouldn’t do it again unless I knew I missed something spectacular further in.

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Angie Grimes
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awesome. must do

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Solomon Rhima
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Hiking

Beautiful view from top. Not much of anything besides river at bottom. We tried to go the whole river trail but there were numerous water crossings, uncleared brush, and sheer drop offs. If you do this, just go to the river and head back up. Hike up is incredibly tough and I hike frequently. Great workout though. I under packed water though so that did make it much more difficult. Make sure you bring LOTS of water.

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AG tamulong
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Hiking

That 2.2 miles steep going down and 2.2 miles steep going up is on a hard trail. Bring lots of water, trail is hot, hiking stick is good to have on this trail. View is good, you’re down the canyon and hit the Waimea river. But that 2.2 start and end trail is very hard. Seen some wild goat. Awesome

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letitia bryan
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Hiking

I agree with Jim that this trail description/map is not entirely correct. You hike down into the Canyon on the Kukui trail. This was steep, and a bright red mud/clay mix which I imagine would be treacherous when wet. Fabulous views though! At the bottom of the Canyon the Kukui trail ends and you may either turn left and head up the Canyon to Lonomea campground, or right and follow the Canyon all the way out to the town of Waimea (around 8 miles). So, tips for IF YOU TURN LEFT AND INTEND TO CAMP: the campsite right at the bottom of the Kukui trail is called Williwilli (it's beautiful). Further up the trail and 3 river crossings later (which will definitely require you to get your feet wet) is Kaluahaulu campground, then Hipalau, and finally at the end of the trail is Lonomea. We had a permit for Lonomea campground, but did not actually make it there because the trail was SO overgrown, and we ducked into Hipalau instead. We really were battling our way through dense overgrown thorny plants, which were often above head height, for sustained stretches. What's more there is a sharp drop off on one side (totally unproblematic if you can see the path, but a little treacherous if you can't see where you're putting your feet!). It's really just a shame that Hawaii State Parks rangers aren't doing a proper job and clearly haven't been up there in (at the very least) a few months. Camping at any campsite does require a permit. I will say, however, that although both Kaluahaulu and Hipalau were showing as fully booked on the State Parks website, the night we were there only one couple was at Kaluahaulu and we were the only couple at Hipalau (and the dreadfully overgrown state of the trail informed us that clearly no rangers go back there to check permits). Tips for IF YOU TURN RIGHT TO HIKE THE CANYON OUT TO WAIMEA TOWN: It's very straight forward - it's essentially an 8 mile dis-used 4x4 trail, with multiple river crossings (I lost count, although I think it was around 12...). The river crossings will definitely require you to get your feet/legs wet. Otherwise, though, it's very easy. It's not hugely scenic (especially the last 3 miles or so), but it is kind of cool to see how long the Canyon continues for. Best thing about both these trails - hardly anyone else on them!

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Jim Megerson
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First to Review

I’m not sure who writes the descriptions for the trails but here is my version for this one..... This is a great hike down into the canyon. The trail is steep and in many places washed out due to erosion but still very navigable. You start out very exposed for the first 1.5mi, then enter dense woods for the last mile to the river/campground. If you hike further you can go south to the old abandoned hydro damn. The trail actually continues all the way into the town of Waimea. We went past the power plant about 1.5mi before turning around. The description says 11.4mi but not sure what landmark the turn around would be. I suggest the power plant. There is also 10 river crossings that you will do twice. Trekking poles served to be very handy. We saw many frogs and several chickens, some goats and birds. This is truly like descending into the Grand Canyon on a smaller scale. Well worth the effort.

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Sara Rose
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Hiking
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Lori Dinelli
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Hiking
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Sandee Peterson
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Hiking
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MIHYANG LEE
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Hiking
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Ryan Miller
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Hiking
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Cody Andrews
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Hiking
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Randall McPherson
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Backpacking
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Rob DeGaetano
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Hiking
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Sergey Konovalov
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Hiking
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Nicole Bracco
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Hiking
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Shawna Cooper
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Hiking
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Stone Conroy
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Hiking
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Olivia Benesch
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Hiking
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