On your way up to Waimea Canyon, take a few short moments to explore this beautiful nature trail. This 0.3-mile interpretive loop will surprise you with the number and diversity of native Hawaiian plants. You'll see flowers that you've never seen before, and if you're lucky, the 'iliau plants will be showing off their tall, yellow blooms.
This trailhead may also be a jumping-off point for an overnight adventure at one of the camps along the Waimea River. The Iliau Nature Loop connects with the 2.5-mile Kukui Trail that travels downhill to the river.
But most visitors will simply enjoy stretching their legs here before continuing the uphill drive. Along the trail you will see endemic plants seen only in Hawaii. The koa, a tree used by ancient and modern Hawaiians as a building material, grows well here. The 'ōhi'a-lehua tree, very common throughout the islands, is easily recognizable by its spiky red blossoms. And the 'iliau, found only on Kaua'i, are scattered alongside the trail. The 'iliau is closely related to the silversword plant, which grows high on the Haleakalā crater on Maui. Both plants produce only one spectacular flower bloom before dying. Visitors in May or June will be able to see the tall, yellow flower display of the 'iliau plant.
Look up from the flowers occasionally to enjoy the airy views of the canyon below you. These views are a sneak peek of what's to come further up Waimea Canyon.