My friends and I recently hiked the Kukui Trail and then followed the Waimea River back to Waimea town. The Kukui Trail is one of the few trails that I had yet to hike on Kauai, so I was happy to finally have the chance to do it.
The Kukui Trail begins at about mile 8.5 on the way up to Koke’e State Park. We left a car in Waimea and then drove up. The views were amazing as we descended, and let me tell you, it’s quite a descent! The instant you set foot on the trail, it is 2,000 feet of descending. I’m pretty fit, and my quads were questioning my judgment as we traversed the switchbacks. It’s about 2.5 miles from top to bottom and then you’re at the Waimea River.
Once you’re at river level and heading into Waimea town, the ascending/descending is pretty minimal, but it’s about a 9.5 mile trek with approximately 14 river crossings. You definitely want to plan this with optimal conditions – never go during wet seasons or threat of flash floods. We were fortunate that the water levels were low enough that you could basically rock hop across each crossing without getting your feet wet. The water was cool, though, and getting your feet wet was rather enjoyable. At one point you can cross the river via a hanging bridge. We crossed one at a time and it seemed simple enough but when you reach the middle of it, the bounce made it entertaining.
Apart from my friends, it was almost a lonely hike. We never encountered goats, but we could hear them in the distance. We did pass two hunters on horseback (who were looking for those goats), but other than that, it was us and nature. Oh! We did spot an unusual looking fruit and we’ve determined that it was a hedgehog cucumber. If not, perhaps you can tell us what it is?
With a quick moving crew, the hike from car to car took us about 4:40 with very little dawdling. We definitely enjoyed our adventure.