Hawaii Hiking

Hiking Oahu: Koko Head Crater Trail

While I was in Oahu Logan and I were able to go on a few hikes with our friends Dan from Circle Island Tour in 24 and Reid from Wanderlustyle Blog. I’ve decided to do a few short posts on each hike I did to give you guys an overview of what to expect if you’re interested in hiking while in Oahu. Today I’m going to be talking about the first hike we did and my favourite one; Koko Head Crater Trail.

Bottom of Stairs (1 of 1)

Koko Head Trail is one of the most popular hikes on the island and after climbing the steep trail at sunrise, it’s easy to see why! No amount of Stairmaster training can prepare you for the 1040 stairs of this hike. While it’s definitely not an easy hike, it is one of the more straightforward hikes on the island. There is no rugged terrain or steep drop offs, also making it a lot more suitable for children or those not too familiar with hiking. However, those who are out of shape may want to rethink this hike. The incline gets incredibly steep near the end and the stairs are a bit awkwardly spaced, so it’s more like 1040 lunges as opposed to 1040 steps; talk about a leg workout!

Nonetheless, this was my favourite hike I did on Oahu and I recommend it to everyone; just be prepared for a workout!

The Koko Head Trail is located on the south shore of the island and is very easy to get to. Once you park in the Koko Head District Park parking lot, you’ll see an easily identifiable trail that leads to the start of the stairs. The trail is usually pretty busy too, so you’ll definitely see other people as well.

Stairs (1 of 1)

The Koko Head stairs are actually an abandoned railway track that was created during World War 2 to transport cargo and supplies to the pillboxes at the top. That’s what makes this such a straightforward hike; it’s just one big ride straight up to the top! There are 1040 tracks to the top with helpful little markers along the way to tell you how far you’ve got to go. (Take my word for it, don’t look at them. It’ll just make the trek seem even longer!) There is a short flat part on the hike, were the railway tracks even out, however this part isn’t directly over the mountain so it’s completely open under the railway tracks. This freaked me out, but I’m a baby about any type of open staircase! Just be careful on this part and take it slow, but if you’re really worried about it, there is a way you can hop down and walk around the tracks.

You’ll be able to forget about your burning legs for a few moments if you look up to take in the views. Even right at the beginning of the hike you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous views of the island. As you get closer to the top, some iconic landmarks will come into view, including Hanauma Bay.

Once you get to the top there will be the pillbox and probably a crowd of people. We hiked this at sunrise and reached the top at about 5:30am and it was already bustling with people! I highly recommend hiking this at Sunrise. While I might be bias because sunrise is the only time I’ve ever hiked Koko Head, this hike is located on the hottest and driest side of the island, so hiking it during the day will be extremely hot.

The views from the top make the burning legs completely worth it! Watching the sunrise from the top of Koko Head Crater was literally breath taking. It’s one of those moments that really makes you sit back and appreciate the moment.

Hanauma Bay (1 of 1)

Logan (1 of 1)

Time to top: 25 minutes
(Your time will entirely depend on you. You athletic abilities, how fast you go, how many times you stop, etc. We were with a group of fairly athletic individuals who could haul pretty quickly up the trail, that’s why we were able to do it so quickly. I’d recommend about 2 hours for this hike to give you time to get up and down and enjoy the views at the top!)

Tips for Hiking Koko Head Crater Trail

  • Go early to avoid the sun and heat! The hike will be much harder in the beating sun.
  • Bring lots of water. Regardless of what time you go, it’s important to stay hydrated.
  • Wear sun protection. Sunscreen, a hat; make sure to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays!
  • Bring a flashlight. If you’re planning to hike Koko Head at sunrise, definitely be sure to bring a flashlight, especially if it’s your first time. It’ll be a bit dark at the beginning of the hike, so you want to make sure you can see where you’re going!
  • Don’t forget your camera! You’re going to want to make sure you can capture these views!


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