Hawaii: Hiking Waimea Canyon

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My family spent the day hiking Kauai’s Waimea Canyon: a huge canyon often called the “prettier little sister” of the Grand Canyon. It was simply spectacular!

Our day began with driving into the canyon. At our first scenic outlook (pictured above) we bought some coconut slices to munch on (super delicious), and made our way to the railing. It was INCREDIBLY windy and cold, especially compared to the 80 degree coastline. So, if anybody is planning on visiting, bring a jacket! I saw more than a fair share of people wrapped up in beach towels.


We continued to make our way through the canyon, stopping several times to glimpse the majestic Waipo’o Falls. I have the ultimate picture below (one that only dedicated hikers can get). And as you’re driving up, watch out for the wild chickens, they’re everywhere! Finally, my father pulled into our final destination: the Canyon Trail (or, well, the parking lot in front of it). We were off.

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First of all, let me tell you, this hike is not the easiest. The trail guide listed it as moderate, however, what made it so difficult was the red mud. Being one of the rainiest places on Earth, Waimea Canyon always has a wet ground; it’s extremely slippery, especially in the downhill parts (which is the large majority of the first half). That being said, bring good shoes, and make sure those shoes can get dirty. At the end of the hike my feet were covered in the canyon’s red mud. Second, come prepared for a workout. Seeing that the first half of the hike is mostly downhill, the second half is 1.8 miles of uphill. However, I (a non-hiker) think that the experience was well worth it.


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Because we did this hike, we got views that not every tourist gets. Not only could we look straight down into the canyon (my little daredevil brother got too close to the edge for our comfort), but we also glimpsed the canyon’s man-made arches (pictured above). By the time we got into the canyon, it had warmed up greatly (or maybe the hike just got our hearts pumping!); we were comfortable in shorts and t-shirts.

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At the end of the 1.8 miles we were met with an incredible look down the falls. Here we unpacked our lunch, sat down, and enjoyed the breathtaking view.


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We made our way back, and made sure to stop at the Canyon Overlook. About halfway through the hike, this outlook is ideal for families who don’t want to hike as far, or for people that don’t have the time (the hike took my family about 3 hours). While not as good as the views we got from a plateau further in the canyon, they were still pretty spectacular.

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The hike back was quite difficult, because it was mostly uphill. However, we made it back in about an hour, and there were no regrets, despite being pretty out of breath. We piled back into the car, and treated ourselves to one last outlook. This one gave us a glimpse of the North Shore ocean, and brought us to one of the rainiest spots on Earth! The look out onto the blue waves was pretty spectacular.
To end the day, we treated ourselves to some Lappert’s Ice Cream. We had all wanted to check it out after reading some good reviews about it, and were incredibly excited. I thought it was pretty delicious, and sampled the Pineapple Coconut and Mauna Kea’s Secret flavors. However, we paid upwards of $6 per serving which I think is a pretty whooping price tag for ice cream. Still, it was yummy!

I highly recommend hiking the Waimea Canyon. The Canyon Trail was pretty rewarding, with incredible views off of the plateaus and a look down at the waterfall. For those looking to be more adventurous, there are plenty of longer hikes, but this one was perfect for a family outing. In conclusion, my last piece of advice is start your day earlyWe basically had the trail to ourselves (pictures with no other people in them!). It had started to quite fill up by the time we left around 2.

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How have you been spending the first few days of 2014?



4 thoughts on “Hawaii: Hiking Waimea Canyon

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