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 1,000 steps to reach the top! As challenging
hiking the Koko Head trail is a fun and very popular hike on Oahu.
Elevation 880 Feet
Length 1.5 Miles Round Trip
Duration 60 to 90 Minutes
Terrain Steep, Steps, Loose Dirt, Hot
Difficulty Medium to Hard
stairs and yes, more
stairs! I’m referring to old
railroad ties that are mounted to the hillside from the bottom to the
The military created lookout pillbox bunkers during World
War II. A railway was created on the extincted volcano and named the Koko Crater tramway, and
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, and now known as the Koko Crater Steps. As many as 1000 hikers trek these stairs each day during the summer months.
This Oahu hike is easy to find, easy to
park, easy to
navigate, but not
so easy to climb! After parking in the Koko Head District
parking lot, you will find an easily identifiable trail that leads to
the start of the climb up the mountain.
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 yards from the park path, before
the first step of "the stairs".
The Koko Crater Trail starts off relatively easy for the first 100 steps
progressively gets tougher from there.
It doesn’t take long before you
are treated to gorgeous 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
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
There are a total of 1,050 steps from the bottom to the top of the ridge. And in all fairness it feels more like 2,100 steps! A majority of the stairs on the Koko Crater Trail are long and taller than a standard 7 inch stairway riser.
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.
Sign up for a guided tour up the mountain...
There is a safe bypass around to the right side, if you wish to avoid crossing the bridge...
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.
Reach stair number 900 and you’re in the final stretch. And although there is light at the end of the tunnel, you will feel every step you take forward!
I easily take half a dozen breaks from
to the top. I also remember staring at the last 20 steps, as
rest on the side trying to catch my breath and let the blood return to
Surprisingly enough, 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
your descent. You've earned it, so you might as well enjoy it!
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 show you points of interests along the way, provide useful tips, and talk about the history as well.
There is no
better feeling than
conquering those Koko Head Stairs and
reaching the top! Climb above the old military
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
the lava rock coastline and extensive Sandy
There is a small ridgeline trail that extends outward and back down the other side of the mountain. This trail is narrow, steep and dangerous!
I would not recommend exploring it! But there
are some large flat rocky shelves where you can sit, rest your legs, and take
in the views.
There are lots of neat areas to explore on top of the Koko
Trail. You will definitely want to give yourself some extra
to rest, explore, and take it all in. You owe it to yourself...you just climbed 1,050 steps!
If the shelves seem a little too steep to relax on, then
climbing on top of the metal grade lookout to soak in the
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 leg muscles
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!
No Shade - 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!
Come Prepared - bring water, sunscreen, good hiking shoes, hat & sunglasses. Don't forget your camera!
Time - Give yourself 1 ½ to 3 hrs for this hike…depending how much time you wish to spend at the top.
Here are 3 additional Oahu Hiking Trails that are similar to hike, which you might want to consider climbing after this one...
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– is almost across the way from the Koko Crater Trail. If you
plan your day right, you could
start off the morning with the Koko Crater hike and then spend the rest of your day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay after your hike.
The Hanauma Bay reefs teeming with tropical fish and marine life are an experience not to be missed!
– 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 Halona 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 Halona Beach Cove parking lot and view it up close from the railing fence.
The only requirement for this show to begin are large
turbulent waves that smash into the rocky coast that send a vast
amount of water spewing upwards 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 is close by and located just across the street from Sea Life Park.
Hiking Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail - If you think Makapu'u
Beach looks beautiful...consider hiking up to the Makapu'u 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!