Koko Crater Trail, better known as “Koko Head Stairs”, is your StairMaster workout for the day, with a rewarding panoramic view up top. This Oahu hike will test your endurance and strength to continuously take each additional step up the mountain as you stride over 1000 steps to reach the top! As challenging as it sounds, hiking the Koko Head trail is a fun and very popular hike on Oahu.
Stairs stairs stairs and yes, more stairs! I’m referring to old railroad ties that are mounted to the hillside from the bottom to the top.
The military created lookout pillbox bunkers during World War 2. A railway was created on the Koko Crater trail, and used to haul cargo and supplies up to the top. Today the abandoned railway is used as hiking stairs to reach the old military bunkers and ridgeline.
This Oahu hike is easy to find, easy to park, easy to navigate, and not so easy to climb! After parking in the Koko Head District Park parking lot, you will find an easily identifiable trail that leads to the start of the climb up the mountainside.
Simply start walking towards the end of the parking lot and follow the path leading past the baseball field.
The dirt trail is a short 100 yard from the park path, before reaching the first step leading towards the top.
The trail starts off relatively easy for the first 100 steps and progressively gets tougher from there.
It doesn’t take long before you have some great drop back views. I generally take a breather after each 100 steps and enjoy the view. As you climb higher up the Koko Head Stairs, not only does the horizon view continue to extend, but new landmarks come into sight, such as Hanauma Bay.
Being able to view both Hanauma Bay and the Port Lock Peninsula is pretty spectacular!
There are a total of 1050 steps from the bottom to the top of the ridge. And in all fairness it feels more like 2100 steps! A majority of the stairs on the Koko Crater Trail are long and taller than a standard 7 inch stairway step.
You will reach a small section that is flat, but yet still comes with a challenge, as it acts as a bridge with a 40 ft drop below. It's not hard to cross, but won't feel comfortable if you have a fear of heights. Watch your footing and take your time crossing this section.
You will need a little bit of endurance after the halfway mark, as you’ll find yourself taking more breaks along the way. Make sure to step aside and allow other hikers to safely pass by you.
But in all fairness, I saw all types of hikers on this Koko Crater Trail, including folks who were both in and out of shape, children hiking up, and even a few who were walking up in flip flops! I highly recommend wearing the proper hiking shoes if you decide to choose this Oahu hiking trail.
The Koko Crater Trail will take you 30 minutes to 1 hr to reach the top. Give yourself another hour to relax up top before starting your decent.
If you are unfamiliar with this hiking trail and area, consider going up with a guide, who will not only pick you up from your hotel, but will show you points of interests along the way and talk about the history as well.
Sign up for a guided tour
There is no better feeling than conquering those Koko Head Stairs and reaching the top! Climb above the old military bunker, and there are some amazing panoramic views from Diamond Head to Makapu’u Pt…the payoff is worth it!
You will also discover a beautiful backside to the ridge, with views of the lava rock coastline and extensive Sandy Beach.
There is a small ridgeline trail that extends outward and back
other side of the mountain. This trail is narrow, steep and
I would not recommend exploring it! But there are some large flat rocky shelves that you sit, rest your legs and take it all in.
There are lots of neat areas to explore on top of the Koko
Trail. You will definately want to give yourself some extra
to rest, explore, and take it all in. You owe it to
yourself...you just climbed 1050 steps!
If the shelves seem a little too steep to relax on, then consider climbing on top of the metal grade lookout to soak in the view. Just make sure to watch your footing as you move around up there.
Yes, climbing back down the stairs is easier than the climb
up. But remember
that your legs
will be a bit worn out which will
make the journey back down a little more dangerous.
Take your time and do not accelerate your descent. It’s also just as nice to take breaks along the way, as you did on your way up…not to mention the view the whole way down!
This hike is located on the hot dry south side of the island with no shade. Start as early as possible as it will only get hotter as the sun rises. You have to get up super early to catch a sun rise, but it can be worth it. Make sure to bring a flashlight in that case!
Bring water, sunscreen, good hiking shoes, hat & sunglasses. You also might want to bring a SLR camera if your phone pics aren’t good enough.
Give yourself 1 ½ to 3 hrs for this hike…depending how much time you wish to spend up top.
Hanauma Bay – is almost across the way from the Koko Crater Trail. If you plan your day right, you could start off the morning snorkeling Hanauma Bay after your hike. The Hanauma Bay fish are a site to see, experience, and not to be missed!
Eternity Beach – a famous romantic Oahu beach that became popular after it was featured in a 1953 film titled “From Here to Eternity”. Eternity Beach, also known as Halona Beach Cove, is easy to find as it sits below the popular Holana Blowhole on the right hand side. Take the last turnout before reaching Sandy Beach Park.
To get down into the Halona Beach Cove, you will need to climb
over the street railing, and follow one of the rocky paths
down. I would only attempt going to this beach when the waves
are tame, and the area is blanketed with a good patch of
Spring and Summer time are usually the best times to check out this
Halona Blowhole – one of Hawaii’s natural wonders that sprays ocean water high into the air! The Halona Blowhole can be viewed as far as Sandy Beach Park, but looks more impressive if you stop in the Holana Beach Cove parking lot and view it up front from the railing fence.
The only requirement for this show to begin are large turbulent waves that smash into the rocky coast, and sends a vast amount of water spewing into are through a small hole in lava rock.
Beach Park – if you continue past Sandy Beach Park,
and travel up towards the Makapu’u Pt., you will discover one of Oahu’s
treasured beaches in a large ocean cove.
Not only will you get to see a special piece of Hawaii, but you will also get a chance to view the magical Windward coastline from the scenic Makapu’u viewing point.
Makapuu’u Beach Park is close by and located just across the street from Sea Life Park.
Hiking Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail -
Beach looks beautiful...consider hiking up to the Makapuu Lighthouse for some
of not only the beach below, but Koko Head, and part of the Windward
side as well.
The mile hike will take you about a half hour or
so to reach the top...with lots of scenic views along the way!