We chose to hike the Kukui trail because it was a only a 2 1/2 mile hike with a 2200 ft elevation change that would bring us to the bottom of the canyon. We used Robert Smith's book Hiking Kauai to get information about this hike. One nice thing about this trail is that there are a lot of mileage markers along the path so that you know how far you have come.
To get to the trail, we had to hike along the Iliau Nature Loop trail for a short distance. Once on the Kukui trail, we began to descend into the canyon along a ridge. The view at every point is amazing. This area is referred to the "Grand Canyon of Hawai'i", and it definitely lives up to that name.
The trail continues and comes to a wide descending area of red dirt. It appears as though everyone walks where they please along this section. As long as you stay on the red dirt you will not get lost.
At the end of the red dirt section, the trail descends into a short jungle like forest. It starts to flatten out along this last part of the trail. You will eventually come to an out house and a camping area. Right past this area is the stream. We found it very easy to cross the wide stream by walking on rocks. This was the end of the trail.
We hung out for a while and cooled our feet in the water. The easy part of the hike was over. Now we had to hike a few miles up hill to the top of the canyon! I thought that the hike might be difficult, but after hiking the Kalalau Trail, this seemed pretty tame. I would still suggest that someone be fit to hike in and out of the canyon - this is not an easy stroll.
Hiking Kauai the Garden Isle by Robert Smith (published by Hawaiian Outdoor Adventures Publications, 102-16 Kaui Place, Kula, Maui, Hawaii).