The hike with too many names to count…
Whether you call it Waipo’o Falls Trail aka Waimea Canyon Trail, Spur Trail, Canyon Trail, Pu’u Hinahina Trail, Pu’u Hinahina Lookout
I got so confused trying to figure out all the names and nuances of Waipoo Falls and the Waipoo Falls trail. All I knew is that I’d seen pictures of Waipoo Falls and I wanted to do the hike and then swim in the falls.
I LOVE swimming in the pools created by Hawaiian waterfalls, especially one that comes at the end of an epic hike.
This hike involves traversing a cliff line, multiple waterfalls, as well as incredible views of Waimea Canyon, aka the Hawaiian Grand Canyon.
Clarifying Confusions: Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls
Unfortunately, it gets confusing given that there are multiple starting points, multiple trails, and multiple names to each. Don’t fret though as I stumbled through the process of figuring everything out for you.
Just know that there are two potential starting points, multiple names for the trail, multiple nicknames for the trail, and other landmarks along the way that get described as the trail. Generally you will be looking for the Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls; I’ll explain.
Waipo’o Falls Trail Quick Facts
- Other Names: Waipoo Falls Trail, Spur Trail (part of the trail), Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon Trail, Pu’u Hinahina Lookout Trail, Ni’hau Viewpoint Trail
- Distance: 2 mile or 3 mile depending where you start (likely 3 mile)
- Difficulty: Medium
- Crowds: Popular but not overrun
- Challenges: A couple steep muddy parts
- Cost: $10 to park and $5 per person
- Known For: A waterfall swim and Waimea Canyon views
- Parking: Plenty at either parking lot
Waipo’o Falls Trail, Not Waipio
First off, it’s Waipoo Falls and not Waipio. Waipio is a different spot on the big island of Hawaii (super cool, but not what you are looking for).
The Real Trail Name is the Waimea Canyon Trail (and Spur Trail connecter)
The real name of the trail is the Waimea Canyon Trail, but it often gets called the Canyon Trail. Also, the first ½ mile of the trail is called the Spur Trail, but all the Spur Trail does connect you to the other Waimea Canyon Trail Parking lot (the 4wd only one).
Where is the Trail Head?
First off, there are two different places that you can start this trail, which leads to a lot of confusion. One of the access points cuts off ½ mile of the hike, but it also involves driving on a 4wd only road.
Most people park at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout parking lot. There is plenty of parking and restrooms.
Aside from the trailhead there are also two different canyon viewpoint here, the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout and the Ni’ihau Viewpoint that you can go to if you aren’t in the mood to hike.
The Lesser Known Trail Head – Halemanu Road
If you have a 4wd and only want to hike a total of 2 miles then you can take the turn off just after the initial onto Halemanu Road and follow it to the end. It will end in a small dirt parking lot that immediately picks up the trail.
There Isn’t A Waipo’o Falls Trail (Technically)
There technically isn’t a Waipio Falls Trails. The actual trails have other names, but people will call it the Waipio Falls Trail because the hike ends at the falls.
Fork to Cliff Trail Waimea Canyon
The trail has an offshoot that is called the Cliff Trail Waimea Canyon. It is part of the Canyon Trail, but only goes on to a Waimea Cliff viewpoint. I recommend skipping this trial as the main Canyon Trail will offer the same viewpoint along with a wider cliff view and access to the falls.
The Actual Hike
Like most Hawaii hikes this one can get some steep spots that you might be uncomfortably in right after a rainstorm. Make sure you take care as it can get muddy and slippery.
While you will be in the forest for the first mile and a half it is still a pleasant hike. At that point the trees will open up and you will have awesome views back up to the Waimea Canyon viewpoints.
The Two Waterfalls
When you get to the end there are actually two different waterfalls just a few feet away from each other. If you head to the left you will end up at the smaller falls that form a pool that is just big enough for you to swim in. While it is nice for a quick dip, if you really want to swim in an expansive pool I recommend Wailua Falls on Kauai.
The second waterfall is the bigger Waipoo Falls, but it is worth noting that you will come out at the top of it and be looking down. From the end of the trail there is no way to get to the bottom of this one.
If you are in Kokee State Park and looking for a hike that will allow you to finish with a quick waterfall swim, then the Waimea Canyon Trail might be for you!
WHAT TO PACK FOR KAUAI
- Dresses – Packing a few good dresses is essential for Hawaii. Dresses have become my go to on trips to help quickly put an outfit together. Revolve is one of my go to shops for beach dresses. ASOS also has great summer dresses.
- Shorts – Anyone who is traveling to Hawaii needs a good pair of shorts. Khakis are great for guys. For women, cute athletic shorts or denim shorts are perfect for a breezy summertime look. These Levi denim shorts are my current favorites! These high waisted athletic shorts have gone viral on instagram and for good reason, they are AMAZING.
- Sandals – LOVE these Teva’s! They are my new go to travel sandal. Shop my favorite Teva’s here. They are great to wear in the water snorkeling and also amazing for hiking in Hawaii.
- Sports bra – This SKIMS bra is the most comfortable sports bra you will ever wear! Trust me. I travel with 5 of them. Also, highly recommend checking out the SKIMS fits everybody bra is to die for as well.
- Tank tops – Free people is my go to place to buy cute and affordable tank tops. I have this tighten up tank in almost every color.
- Hat – essential. Shop the newest hats at Nordstrom.
- Beach cover-up – Having at least one good cover-up is essential on any beach trip. I recommend ASOS, Nordstrom and Revolve as well.
- Hiking boots – I have two pairs of hiking boots that I love. My Columbia waterproof boots and my Salomon hiking boots. Highly recommend checking them both out! Warning – they both sell out really quick.
- Tennis Shoes – I guess you could wear sandals hiking this trail but I would recommend tennis shoes. It can get narrow and slippery in parts. These Nike high tops are my current favs. They look so cute with shorts too!
- Packing cubes – I always go to Urban Outfitters for my packing cubes. They have the cutest ones!
- Quick Dry Travel Towel – This quick dry towel is amazing to travel with. It really will come in handy when you need extra room in your suitcase.
- Snorkeling gear – for obvious reasons.
Planning a trip to Kauai? Read everything we know about Kauai here:
My husband and I have been to Kauai many, many times and have written up more guides to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular blog posts and Kauai travel guides to help you plan your trip.
Best Beaches for Snorkeling on Kauai
- TUNNELS BEACH IN KAUAI (amazing snorkeling, swimming, seals) – one of my personal favorite beaches own the entire island!
- KE’E BEACH ON KAUAI – great snorkeling, swimming, but you have to make reservation in advance – it was a nightmare.
- Hideaway’s Beach – Amazing snorkeling on the North Shore.
- Anini Beach – (Snorkeling, fishing, swimming) Great for basically everything.
- Kalapaki Beach in Kauai – Kids beach. Perfect beach for families, beginner snorkeling and swimming!
Best Cliff Jumping in Kauai
- SHIPWRECK BEACH ON KAUAI – Amazing cliff jumping beach
- QUEEN’S BATH KAUAI: COMPLETE GUIDE – Another must visit!
More awesome beaches
- MOLOA’A BEACH ON KAUAI – Insanely underrated. Giligans Island was filmed here. This beach was another one of my favorites. Practically empty.
- Lumaha’i Beach Kauai – What you need to know before going
- Secret Beach Kauai! (aka Kauapea beach) – MUST see beach!
- Haena Beach – We saw a Monk Seal on this beach!
- Gillin’s Beach – Fairly secluded beach where you can ride horses!
- Donkey Beach – Underrated – practically deserted beach
- Hanalei Beach – Gorgeous beach, perfect for sunsets.
- Salt Pond Beach Park – Amazing beach for kids and families (You can camp here as well)
- Black Pot Beach
Kauai Hiking Guides
- WAILUA FALLS HIKE ON KAUAI – AMAZING WATERFALL HIKE! Probably my favorite hike I have ever done.
- KALEPA RIDGE TRAIL – BEST HIKE IN HAWAII…SERIOUSLY. Trust me, don’t leave this one off your list! It’s GORGEOUS!
- MAKALEHA TRAIL – Amazing trail that is extremely muddy. 100% worth it!
- CANYON TRAIL TO WAIPO’O FALLS
- Pihea Trail – Easy hike on Kauai with Na’pali Coast Views!
- Makauwahi Cave Trail – Kauai Hidden gem
Read about all the hikes we have done in Kauai here.
Read all other posts on Kauai here.