Stairs, sweat, and scenery – the Koko Crater Railway Trail provides all of these and more. An ultimate workout with over 1,000 steps to reach the summit, this hike will challenge your stamina and grit. But even if you need to stop for frequent breaks, simply turning around to enjoy the views behind you as you get higher and higher will make the effort worthwhile.
The Koko Crater Railway Trail, also known as the Koko Crater Trail or Koko Head Stairs, is comprised of over 1,000 old railroad ties and is actually more of a stair climb than a trail. During World War II, the military created this railway to haul cargo and supplies to the pillbox bunkers at the summit. Now the abandoned railway is a 1.8 mile out and back trail perfect for enjoying some amazing bird’s eye views of the east Honolulu shoreline.
Comprised of railroad ties, the majority of “stairs” are longer and taller than a standard step, which means long before you reach the top, your quads will be screaming for a break. About halfway to the summit, you’ll reach a flat portion that will provide somewhat of a reprieve. However, this section is a bridge with a 40 foot drop below, and may be a challenge for those with a fear of heights. When you finally reach the top after 30-60 minutes of climbing, you will be well-rewarded with panoramic views from Diamond Head to Makapu’u Point. Finding the metal grate platform at the summit will provide epic photos of your climb and the surrounding views from an even higher vantage point. Take your time here and congratulate yourself on a climb well done before you retrace your steps back down the mountain.
Take your time on the way down – the steps are steep and can be quite slippery. This is an exposed trail with little to no shade. Combined with the exertion level it will likely require, tackling this in the morning or evening are preferable.
For an alternate descent route, you can head along the trail that goes off the backside of the summit, hiking down toward Koko Crater Arch and enjoying expansive views of the coastline and Sandy Beach. However, if you choose this route, you’ll need an extra vehicle to get back to your parked car in the Koko Head parking lot.
Park in the Koko Head District Park parking lot. At the end of the parking lot, follow the path leading past the baseball field. The dirt trail is just beyond the park path, before you see the intimidating stairs leading to the summit.
Koko Crater Railway Trail
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