Welcome to the Grand Canyon of the Pacific (i.e. Waimea Canyon). We suggest starting early in the morning, driving all the way to the top first rather than stopping at viewpoints along the way. Since we hiked the Canyon Trail before heading all the way up the Canyon, we arrived to the Pu'u O Kila Lookout around noon. We hit it right when the afternoon clouds began rolling in.
Our favorite trail in the Canyon is the Canyon Trail. It has two entries. Coming down from the top, take the first Canyon Trail entrance (to your left) if you want to hike a shorter route (we didn't know about this route until we heard car doors opening and closing as we were hiking). We took the other trail head - very steep doing down and very steep going back up. However, this was, by far, the best-smelling trail we've ever ventured. So, that was nice.
There are two intersections along the trail. Go left at the first one (not the lookout), and go right at the sign that says Falls. You'll hike up some intense dirt pathways and end up on top of the exhilarating Waimea Canyon. Breathe in the view and take a few photos, though none will fully capture the beauty.
Continue walking down the trail to your left. You'll walk on top of some large rocks. Follow path to the left (not right). You may have to push through some tall brush. You'll find a waterfall and natural pool to your left. There's a giant rock to your right when you keep following the trail. We named it our Resting Rock and enjoyed a picnic on top of it.
After passing the Resting Rock, follow the path along the river and you'll find one more waterfall to your right along with a massive drop off for the giant waterfall!! This is also a great picnic spot if you can hold out that long.
We made a few friends along this trail, including a family from Slovakia, a local family (who let us in on a few local secrets), and a wonderful couple celebrating their 40th anniversary. They had intense trekking sticks and kept up with us the whole time. #respect