the kukui trail begins with with gentle nature loop along the rim of waimea canyon and falls down to the waimea river below.
nature loop, kukui trail
you can find parking just mile marker 8 on waimea canyon drive. be prepared for a hike straight down nearly from the start.
the nature trail has placards indicating hawaiian flora and great views of waimea canyon and the kukui trail. when we hiked the trail in late february, 2014, the trail was in excellent condition. verdant canyon walls mixed with rich red clay and numerous waterfalls made for quite a view at each switchback.
the kukui trail
the hike down was steep in some areas, but there were only two sections that seemed dangerously narrow. and even these two areas weren't that bad. as always hiking sticks or trekking poles really made the hike easier.
naomi having fun on the kukui trail
once off the red clay you enter into a dense jungle. i read several reviews online stating that this section was difficult to navigate, but we found it to be pretty straightforward and easily recognized numerous trailblazers indicating the route. with that said, we didn't find this section to be particularly enjoyable as it was very buggy! the mosquitos were insane!
the reward of the buggy area
the campsite at the bottom wasn't much either so i think if we were to do the hike again we would stop were the red dirt ends.
verdant and red waimea canyon
the kukui trail from the start to the waimea river at the bottom of the canyon and back is 5 miles long. we started early and didn't see anyone until about a mile left to go (on our return trip back up the canyon). although the bottom (mosquito land) was muddy the main portion of the trail (canyon land) was dry.
all in all i'd give the kukui trail 3 stars. great views of the canyon, not crowded, trail is safe and in good condition, and it is a good way to get in some exercise.