Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (2023)

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Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (1)

Koko CraterTrail, better known as“Koko Head Stairs”, is yourStairMaster workout for the day, with a rewarding panoramic view uptop. This Oahu hike will test your endurance and strength tocontinuously take each additional step up the mountain as you strideover 1,000 steps to reach the top! As challengingas itsounds,hiking the Koko Head trail is a fun and very popular hike on Oahu.

Disclaimer – all Oahu hikes have different challenges and hazards that can be dangerous and may inflict injury. Know your fitness and skill level before embarking in any hike. Stay on trails and obey posted signs. The information on this site is for your reading pleasure only. Hike at your own risk.

Hike Details

Elevation 880 Feet

Length 1.5 Miles Round Trip

Duration 60 to 90 Minutes

Terrain Steep, Steps, Loose Dirt, Hot

Difficulty Medium to Hard

Hiking Koko Crater Trail

Stairs stairsstairs and yes, morestairs! I’m referring to oldrailroad ties that are mounted to the hillside from the bottom to thetop.

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (2)

The military created lookout pillbox bunkers during WorldWar II. A railway was created on the extinctedvolcano and named the Koko Crater tramway, andusedto haul cargo and supplies up to the top. Today the abandonedrailway is used as hiking stairs to reach the old military bunkers andridgeline, and now known as the Koko Crater Steps.

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This Oahu hike is easy to find, easy topark, easy tonavigate, but notso easy to climb! After parking in the Koko Head DistrictParkparking lot, you will find an easily identifiable trail that leads tothe start of the climb up the mountain.

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Simply start walkingtowards the end of the parking lot and follow the path leading past thebaseball field.

The dirt trail is a short 100 yards from the park path, beforereachingthe first step of "the stairs".

The Koko Crater Trail starts off relatively easy for the first 100 stepsandprogressively gets tougher from there.

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It doesn’t take long before youare treated to gorgeous views.I generally take a breather after each 100 steps and enjoy theview. As you climb higher up the Koko Head Stairs, not onlydoesthe horizon view continue to extend, but new landmarks come into sight,such as Hanauma Bay.

Being able to view both Hanauma Bay and the PortLock Peninsulaispretty spectacular!

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There are atotal of 1,050 steps from the bottom to the topof 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.

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You will reach a small section that is flat, but yet still comeswith a challenge, as it acts as a bridge with a 40 ft dropbelow.It's not hard to cross, but won't feel comfortable if you have a fearof heights. Watch your footing and take your time crossingthissection.

Sign up for a guided tourup the mountain...

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (8)

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.

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (9)

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (10)

Reach stair number 900 and you’re in the final stretch. Andalthough there is light at the end of the tunnel, you will feel everystep you take forward! I easily take half a dozen breaks fromhereto the top. I also remember staring at the last 20 steps, asIrest on the side trying to catch my breath and let the blood return tomy legs!

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 thisOahu hiking trail.

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The Koko Crater Trail will take you 30 minutes to 1 hr to reach thetop. Give yourself another hour to relax up top beforestartingyour descent. You've earned it, so you might as well enjoy it!

Hike with a Guide

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If you are unfamiliar with this hiking trail and area, consider going up with a guide, who will not onlypick you up from your hotel, butshow you points of interests along the way, provide useful tips, and talk about the history as well.

Sign up for a guided tour

Help repair the steps that are in disrepair...

The Koko Head Steps are extremely popular with hundreds of hikers climbing it daily. Add the rainy season and years in existence, there are some sections that needs attention...many steps have already been repaired. A GoFundMe campaign has been created to help clean up, repair, and reinforce sections of this Oahu hiking trail. A group by the name ofKokonut Koalition is in partnership with the City of Honolulu to full rebuild these stairs! Close to $100,000 of $125,000 has already been raised. If you like this hike and want to see it preserved for the future, we encourage you to make a donation to help fulfill what is needed to start the necessary repairs. Mahalo!!

See more details and make a donation

The Koko Crater Trail Ridge

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (13)

There is nobetter feeling thanconquering those Koko Head Stairs andreaching the top! Climb above the old militarybunker, andthereare some amazing panoramic views from Diamond Head to Makapu’u Pt…thepayoff is worth it!

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (14)

You will also discover a beautiful backside to the ridge, with viewsofthe lava rock coastline and extensive SandyBeach.

There is a small ridgeline trail that extends outward and back down the other side ofthe mountain. This trail is narrow, steep and dangerous!

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I would not recommend exploring it! But thereare some large flat rocky shelves where you can sit, rest your legs, and takein the views.

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There are lots of neat areas to explore on top of the KokoCraterTrail. You will definitely want to give yourself some extratimeto rest, explore, and take it all in. You owe it toyourself...you just climbed 1,050 steps!

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If the shelves seem a little too steep to relax on, thenconsiderclimbing on top of the metal grade lookout to soak in theview.Just make sure to watch your footing as you move around up there.

Climbing back down the Koko Crater Trail

Yes, climbing back down the stairs is easier than the climbup. But rememberthat your leg muscleswill be a bit worn out, which willmake the journey back down a little more dangerous.

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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!

Hiking Tips

No Shade - this hike is located on the hot, dry south side of the island with noshade. Start as early as possible as it willonly gethotter asthe sun rises. You have to get up super early to catch a sunrise, but it can be worth it. Make sure to bring a flashlightinthat 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 muchtime youwish to spend at the top.

Hiking Gear Picks including Compact Hiking Poles, Mosquito Repellent, and GPS Mapping Tracker

3 Similar Oahu Hiking Trails

Here are 3 additional Oahu Hiking Trails that are similar to hike, which you might want to consider climbing after this one...

Diamond Head

Makapu'u Lighthouse

Lanikai Pillbox

Getting there

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (22)

  • From Waikiki take the Kalanianaole Hwy (H-1) south.
  • Remain on this coastal Hwy as it turns into Hwy 72.
  • Once you reach the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, turn left onLunaliloHome Rd
  • Turn right onto Anapalau St
  • Turn Left into Koko Head District Park
  • Park and proceed up behind the baseball field, towards KokoHead

Koko Crater Trail Map

Street Level Map

In the Area

Hanauma Bay

HanaumaBay– is almost across the way from the Koko Crater Trail. If youplan your day right, you couldstart off the morning with the Koko Crater hike and then spend the rest of your day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay after your hike.TheHanauma Bay reefs teeming with tropical fish and marine life are an experience not to be missed!

Eternity Beach

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (24)

Eternity Beach– a famous romantic Oahubeach that became popularafter it was featured in a 1953 film titled “From Here toEternity”. Eternity Beach, alsoknown as Halona Beach Cove,is easy to find as it sits below the popular Halona Blowhole on theright hand side. Take the last turnout before reaching SandyBeach Park.

To get down into the Halona Beach Cove, you will need to climbover the street railing, and follow one of the rocky pathsdown.

I would only attempt going to this beach when the wavesare tame, and the area is blanketed with a good patch ofsand.Spring and Summer time are usually the best times to check out thisOahu beach.

Halona Blowhole

Halona Blowhole– one of Hawaii’s natural wonders that spraysocean water high into the air! The Halona Blowhole can beviewed as far as Sandy Beach Park, but looks more impressive if youstop in the Halona BeachCoveparking lot and view it up close from therailing fence.

The only requirement for this show to begin are largeturbulent waves that smash into the rocky coast that send a vastamount of water spewing upwards through a small hole in lava rock.

Sea Life Park Admission - Swimming with Sharks or Sea Lions

Hiking the Koko Crater Trail (25)

A thrill of a life time swimming with sharks or sea lions in a controlled environment at Sea Life Park! This Oahu adventurealone offers lots of exciting marine exhibits to explore, but not many theme parks offer opportunities to interact with the animals.

Spend 20 to 30 minutes in a 300,000 gallon tank with trained professionals that educate and lead you through the experience.

Price of admission includes transportation and a full-day pass to Sea Life Park. Reserve Limited Tickets Now!

Makapu'u Beach

Makapuu’uBeach Park – if you continue past Sandy Beach Park,and travel up towards the Makapu’u Pt., you will discover one of Oahu’streasured beaches in a large ocean cove.

Not only will youget to see a special piece of Hawaii, but you will also get a chance toview the magical Windwardcoastlinefrom the scenic Makapu’u viewingpoint.

Makapuu’uBeach is close by and located just across thestreet from Sea Life Park.

Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail

Hiking Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail - If you think Makapu'uBeach looks beautiful...consider hiking up to the Makapu'u Lighthouse for somespectacular viewsof not only the beach below, but Koko Head, and part of the Windwardside as well.

The mile hike will take you about a half hour orso to reach the top...with lots of scenic views along the way!

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