Location: Kauai, HI
Distance from Poipu: 35mi (~1hr, 10min) ♡ ♡
Hike: ~3.6mi RT ♡ ♡ ♡
Difficulty: Moderate ♡ ♡
Parking Situation: Small lot (shared with a Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, so get here early!) ♡ ♡
Parking Fee: N/A
Happy Thursday friends!!! Are you ready for another hike from our trip to Kauai?! Today, we are going to talk about the (Wimea) Canyon Trail, which clocks in at ~3.5mi RT. Let me just say, this is a doozy! While the distance makes it seem very manageable, the trail itself is a whole other story!
You start out at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, which offers gorgeous views of the canyon itself. Come back to the parking lot area, say hi to the plenty of roosters / chickens roaming around, and then look for the trailhead sign from the parking lot.
At the start of the trail, pick up a wooden stick that are stacked along the fence post so that you can use it for stability (conversely, if you read our tip here, bring your own hiking poles). The first quarter of a mile, or so, is pretty flat and through the forest. But the second quarter of a mile is quite the doozy! It is a very steep descent and there is a part where the earth has given away and it is a gnarly jump down to continue the trail.
A little past this part, there is a small section where the rangers have included ropes to help you cross a perpetually muddy section of the trail. There are logs resting over the muddy “river” and then ropes from one side to the other to help with stability. After this, the trail alternates between uphill and downhill as you swing around the lip of the canyon from the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout. There are also two points where the trail splits - look for the signs that indicate the Canyon Trail!
Comparing this trail to the Awa’awapuhi Trail that we posted about earlier in the week, we would say that this required more attention to the trail and careful placement of our feet to navigate the tricky sections. As with the Awa’awapuhi Trail, just go slow and you will be fine!
The views are spectacular as you are inside the canyon itself! If you look across the way, you may be able to see where the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout stands along with all the tourists taking pictures here! The sheer breadth of the canyon took our breath away and we stopped for a bit along the plateau to enjoy the views. We will say, though, that this is not the place for peace and quiet. There are quite a few helicopters circling around (this is a prime stop) and so most of the valley is filled with the whirring of the copters.
When we did our own tour of Wimea on a helicopter, our pilot told us a few tidbits about the canyon that we are happy to share with you! First, it is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, and it is hard not to see why! The sheer depth (up to 4000ft!) is truly incredible. Wimea is named for the reddish tint that the canyon walls take, all formed from the erosion of the Wimea River & proximity to the wettest spot on the planet!
Overall, we loved this hike and would recommend it if you don’t mind a challenging trail! As always, wear shoes with good traction, take plenty of water, and go slow!