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Koko Crater Path & Stairs In Oahu Hawaii

The grueling Koko Head hike takes you on a steep railway path up the facet of a dormant volcano crater within the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This one will make your legs sore the following day!

It’s not a really lengthy hike when it comes to distance, however the path is steep and there’s plenty of elevation acquire, main these to be nicknamed the ‘Koko Head stairs of doom.’

Many Hawaiian locals and vacationers alike take pleasure in this hike for the great exercise and calorie burn, and the Koko Head dawn and sundown are additionally identified for being spectacular.

I’ve hiked the Koko Crater path many instances over time, and it’s all the time nice enjoyable. It’s not a harmful hike and there haven’t been any falling deaths, nevertheless it’s an actual health check and will not be enjoyable for everybody.

This journey information will clarify get to the Koko Crater railway trailhead and car parking zone, do the hike for dawn or sundown, and every little thing else you might want to know earlier than you go!

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Fast Info

  • Distance: 1.6 miles (2.6 km) spherical journey
  • Elevation Acquire: 900 ft (275 m)
  • Prime Elevation: 1,207 ft (368 m)
  • Period: 1 – 2 hours spherical journey
  • Problem: Reasonable / Onerous

Koko Head Hike: What To Anticipate

The Koko Head hike is slightly bit like Hawaii’s model of the notorious Manitou Incline in Colorado. To be truthful, Koko just isn’t as laborious as Manitou, however as a substitute of excessive elevation to cope with, you do have the tropical warmth and humidity of Hawaii.

Koko Head can be lots steep. Even seasoned hikers might be feeling intimidated after they arrive on the trailhead and see the gargantuan climb that awaits them. From the very begin, you may already see the tiny hikers ascending the mountain, wanting like ants within the distance.

With that stated, in the event you simply hold placing one foot in entrance of the opposite, you’ll attain the highest earlier than it! The primary time you do the Koko Crater path appears like a complete slog, however every subsequent climb will get shorter and simpler.

Nonetheless, this hike is not any joke. I might extremely advocate carrying good sneakers and bringing plenty of water. I’ve carried out the hike in sandals earlier than, nevertheless it’s very awkward and I wouldn’t advocate it.

A hat and sunscreen are additionally crucial in the event you hike Koko Crater throughout the day, as a result of there’s nearly no shade in any respect on the path. A great way to beat the warmth and crowds is by beginning earlier within the day.

A hiker on the prime of Koko Crater path. Wonderful views!


Koko Head Stairs Of Doom

For this whole hike, you’ll be climbing a steep set of railway ties (‘stairs’) going up the facet of an extinct volcanic mountain referred to as Koko Crater.

There are 1,048 stairs, to be precise. Nevertheless, until you’re an enormous, every stair will really take a number of steps to climb as a result of they’re very huge and awkward. The dusty path and slick steel may also be slippery.

These stairs had been really constructed as a part of a army railway throughout World Warfare II, however they’ve been utilized by hikers for a few years, so clearly they work alright for that objective too!

The Koko Head stairs of doom

One brief part close to the center of the Koko Crater path entails crossing a bridge over a ravine with an intimidating 10 foot drop, however you don’t need to stroll throughout it in the event you don’t need to.

You’ll be able to simply bypass the scary bridge part by strolling by means of a clearing within the foliage to the best of the trail.

This detour is marked with a useful signal so that you’ll know when to show off the primary path. Most hikers take the detour.

This signal lets the place to bypass the bridge part

The final one-third of the Koko Head path will get noticeably steeper and tougher than earlier than.

If any part of this path deserves to be nicknamed the ‘Koko Head stairs of doom,’ it will be this dizzying closing part.

At this level, you may even see some drained individuals climbing up the steps on all fours, or scooting slowly on their butts as they return down.

If you attain the top of the steps, you continue to have slightly little bit of strolling to do to get to the highest of the mountain. Simply one other 50 yards of straightforward strolling and also you’re there.

All in all, the whole calorie burn on the Koko Crater path is someplace within the realm of 400 energy (roundtrip).

Prime Of Koko Head Path: The View

The views on the prime of Koko Head path are actually superb. You get panoramic views of Hawaii Kai and Hanauma Bay beneath, and you’ll even faintly make out Diamond Head and the Honolulu cityscape within the distance.

On the opposite facet of this panorama, you may look down into the ‘bowl’ of Koko Head’s extinct volcano crater, which has been become a botanical backyard, and within the distance you may even see all the way in which out to Makapuu Level.

It’s an awesome view, and also you’ll little question need to keep awhile to loosen up and take photos! At this level, you lastly have a pleasant breeze hitting you, and a few timber and bushes to cover below for shade.

There are a number of deserted army bunkers (‘pillboxes’) on the prime of the summit, in addition to an elevated steel platform that offers you even higher views of the entire space surrounding the Koko Crater path.

Views of Hawaii Kai from the highest of Koko Head crater path

If you’ve completed chilling and exploring every little thing on the prime of Koko Head summit, you’ll have to return down the identical means you got here. Take your time and don’t rush, as a result of the steps might be much more slippery and dangerous on the way in which again down.

Alternatively, for a change of surroundings you may hike out through the Koko Crater Rim path, however this route is extra sketchy and it takes you away from the Koko Head car parking zone, so that you’ll want to determine transportation while you attain the underside.

I’ll share extra particulars on the Koko Crater Rim path later on this information. It’s an journey in itself.

Is Koko Head Path Harmful?

The Koko Head path just isn’t harmful in the event you’re cautious and watch your step.

To be truthful, there’s one brief part the place the railway turns into a bridge with an unnerving 10 foot drop beneath it, however you may go round this bridge if you wish to, and most of the people do.

There have been some accidents and accidents on the Koko Head Path over time, however no falling deaths. The one deaths right here have been health-related points like coronary heart assaults.

This isn’t an awesome hike for teenagers or older of us. Should you’re in a type of classes, please take your time and go additional gradual on this path, particularly on the way in which again down. Convey plenty of water and a hat too. Critically. Convey extra water than you suppose you’ll want.

Warning signal on the Koko Crater railway trailhead

When individuals get harm on the Koko Crater path, often it’s as a result of they had been dashing again down the steps and slipped. I’ve seen this in information studies and in addition seen it occur in individual many instances.

It’s enjoyable to race to the highest of the steps, however there’s actually no motive to race right down to the underside. It’s simply not well worth the danger of getting harm. Save the pace runs for going up the steps, and take your time going again down.

The Honolulu Hearth Division rescues harm hikers on this path by helicopter a number of instances per yr. It’ll mess up your day and waste taxpayer cash, and it offers the locals an excuse to name for closing one more traditional Oahu hike.

When a well-liked mountain climbing path in Oahu turns into a legal responsibility, the Hawaii authorities’s typical response is to shut it down utterly as a substitute of working with the neighborhood and looking for a greater answer.

Let’s all do our half to hike Koko Head safely and responsibly so we are able to proceed to take pleasure in this path for a few years to come back!

Outdated army bunkers (‘pillboxes’) on the prime of Koko Head

Again views from the highest of Koko Crater path


How Lengthy Is Koko Head Hike?

The Koko Head hike is about 1.6 miles roundtrip (2.6 km) in the event you begin from the primary car parking zone. For most individuals, it should most likely take about 1-2 hours roundtrip, relying in your tempo.

Plan on most likely not less than half-hour to achieve the highest, after which nearly the identical period of time to return down. If course it’s attainable to go quicker in the event you’re tremendous match, and I’ve heard of individuals working to the highest of the Koko Stairs in lower than 10 minutes.

If you wish to prolong the hike and go even additional, you may also hike the Koko Crater Rim path and the Koko Arch, though these are a bit sketchy and never really helpful for everybody. I’ll clarify extra about these facet trails later on this weblog submit.

Koko Head Elevation

The Koko Head elevation / peak on the summit is 1,207 ft (368 m).

Meaning in the event you begin the hike from the primary car parking zone, like most individuals do, then there’s about 900 ft of elevation acquire (275 m).

Drone view of the Koko Head Crater. That’s the mountain you’ll be climbing!


Entrance Charges

The doorway and parking for this hike are FREE on the time of writing.

Should you take pleasure in this hike, think about donating to Kokonut Koalition. They’re a non-profit group that maintains the path.

Is Koko Head Path Open / Closed?

Sure, Koko Head is open! The hike is open all yr lengthy besides for infrequent path upkeep. It was closed for 3 weeks of renovation in 2021, nevertheless it’s very uncommon for that to occur.

Listed below are the official Koko Head path hours:

  • Koko Head District Park: 4 AM – 11 PM
  • Parking Lot: 6:30 AM – 11 PM

The hike might be accessed 24/7 (all day and all night time), and other people usually do that for dawn.

Nevertheless, you’ll want to determine someplace to park for the reason that major car parking zone is closed earlier than daybreak. You must be capable to discover a parking spot on the street close to the tennis courts.

Finest Time To Hike Koko Head

I might attempt to keep away from mountain climbing Koko Head in the course of the day as a result of the warmth is brutal and there’s no shade in any respect. It makes it disagreeable and quite a bit tougher.

Morning and night are each nice instances to hike Koko Head, and in the event you plan it proper you may even see the dawn or sundown, that are each spectacular! Extra information on this beneath.

Koko Head Sundown

The Koko Head sundown is fantastic. The truth is, it’s probably the greatest locations to observe the sundown on the entire island of Oahu. I’ve carried out this hike nearly a dozen instances, often at sundown, and it’s all the time such an awesome present.

The solar units proper over Hawaii Kai, and there are often no clouds to dam it. This nook of the island is nearly all the time cloudless, in spite of everything. The colours at sundown are sensible and there’s a pleasant sea breeze because the temps begin to cool off.

You’re positive to have firm from different hikers having fun with the Koko Head sundown, however keep in mind to carry a superb gentle as a result of it’s possible you’ll be mountain climbing again in the dead of night, and it’s necessary to see the place you’re stepping.

I might extremely advocate mountain climbing this within the daytime a few times earlier than you try it for sundown. Some spots might be harmful in the dead of night in the event you’re not already acquainted with the path.

I really like a superb sundown on a volcano! The Koko Head dawn can be superb.

Koko Head Dawn

The Koko Head dawn is not less than as well-liked as sundown, and the views of Oahu island are simply as stellar.

The solar rises on the opposite facet of the Koko Crater, so that you’ll be watching it come up immediately over the ocean and the volcano crater, with views of Makapuu Level within the distance.

You’ll desire a good gentle for mountain climbing Koko Head at dawn, and once more, I might extremely advocate going within the daytime a few times earlier than you try it for dawn. Familiarity helps quite a bit right here.

Koko Crater Railway Trailhead: Parking Lot / Instructions

The Koko Crater railway trailhead is situated close to Hawaii Kai, on the southeast facet of Oahu island.

It’s about 10 miles from Waikiki, and the drive solely takes half-hour. There’s an enormous car parking zone at Koko Head District Park and it’s free to make use of for this hike. You should utilize the map beneath for navigation on to the car parking zone handle.

It’s additionally attainable to get to Koko Head by bus, though that entails quarter-hour of additional strolling for the reason that closest bus stops are about 1/2 mile from the Koko Head entrance.

If you arrive on the Koko Head car parking zone, it’s slightly complicated to search out the trailhead at first. Observe the sidewalk that wraps across the baseball diamond, after which go up the filth hill by means of the timber to a different paved street, which can take you to the trailhead (GPS right here).

Often there are many different hikers coming and going, so it’s straightforward to search out the trailhead by following the opposite hikers.


Koko Crater Rim Path

If you wish to combine issues up on the Koko Head hike and do one thing totally different, you may mix it with the Koko Crater Rim path, which loops in a circle alongside the highest of the Koko Crater. That is your probability to stroll alongside the rim of an extinct volcano crater!

The north rim of this crater is hard and harmful, however the south rim (the facet nearest the ocean) is kind of a bit tamer and safer. Should you solely hike the south rim, I’d describe it as average. It’s undoubtedly not appropriate for teenagers or older of us although.

This hike is an effective way to flee the crowds and see some alternate views on the Koko Crater. If you wish to do three hikes in a single, there’s even a facet path on the south rim that intersects with the Koko Arch hike (extra on that in a minute)!

Koko Crater

Strolling alongside the south rim of Koko Crater


Koko Arch Path

The Koko Arch is a huge pure rock arch on the south slope of Koko Crater. It’s one more photogenic and attention-grabbing function of this extinct volcanic mountain.

Usually individuals hike to the arch on a brief, straightforward path that begins from the primary coastal street by Halona Seashore Cove, however you may also attain the arch from Koko Head through the Crater Rim path.

In our case, a pal dropped us off on the Koko Stairs trailhead and we hiked to the highest of the steps, then we walked alongside the south Koko Crater rim till we discovered a spur path to go right down to the Koko Arch. After taking some photos on the arch, we walked right down to the street at Halona Seashore Cove and caught a bus residence.

You’re in for a really robust hike in the event you do all of this in someday, and I wouldn’t try it in the event you aren’t lots comfy with heights. Even so, in the event you’re up for the problem then it’s an effective way to do three hikes in a single!

Koko Arch


Historical past Of Koko Head In Oahu Hawaii

Koko Crater was fashioned by the identical sequence of volcanic eruptions in Hawaii that created Diamond Head, however these days it’s dormant and the final exercise is believed to have been not less than 7,000 years in the past.

The Koko Crater railway was initially constructed by the U.S. Military in 1942 to hold males and provides to a radar station on the prime of the mountain for the wartime protection of Oahu.

It was then used as an air power station by the U.S. Air Pressure beginning in 1947, however with advances in know-how it will definitely grew to become out of date for monitoring plane. The Koko Crater set up was deactivated in 1966, and the U.S. Air Pressure handed it over to the town of Honolulu.

Within the years since then, the Koko Crater path has change into a highly regarded hike in Oahu Hawaii, and as many as 500 to 1,000 individuals climb it day-after-day for the thrills, the views, and the free exercise.

A non-profit volunteer group referred to as Kokonut Koalition has been fashioned to take care of the path and shield it from being closed by the Hawaiian authorities. Try their web site and think about donating in the event you’re a fan of Koko Head.

As all the time, please keep in mind to maintain the path clear, be thoughtful of different hikers, and depart no hint. Thanks and comfortable travels!

Koko Head vs Diamond Head

So in a comparability of Koko Head vs Diamond Head, how do these two well-liked volcano hikes in Oahu stack up? That’s a superb query, and I’ll attempt to reply.

Each hikes are roughly the identical distance roundtrip (1.6 vs 1.8 miles), and so they take roughly the identical period of time to finish, however Koko Head has about 50% extra elevation acquire than Diamond Head. Meaning it’s steeper and tougher.

The trail at Diamond Head is in significantly better situation than the Koko stairs, so it’s undoubtedly extra appropriate for teenagers and older individuals. If you’d like a superb exercise and calorie burn, nonetheless, Koko Head wins there. Koko can be higher for seeing the dawn or sundown.

The views on the summits are totally different, however nice on each hikes. Koko Head and Diamond Head are each extinct volcano craters, and you’ll see previous World Warfare II army bunkers (‘pillboxes’) on the prime of both summit.

Diamond Head is nearer to the town and it has superb views of Waikiki and Honolulu, whereas Koko Head has superb views of Hawaii Kai and Hanauma Bay. Total, they’re each nice hikes in case you have time!

Learn Extra: Diamond Head Hike

Diamond Head is less complicated and has totally different views from Koko Head, however they’re each good hikes.


Koko Head vs Stairway To Heaven

You might also be questioning how Koko Head compares to the notorious Haiku Stairs in Oahu, also referred to as the ‘Stairway To Heaven.’

I’ve carried out each hikes many instances over time, and I’ve to say there may be actually no comparability when it comes to issue. The ‘Stairway To Heaven’ hike is for much longer, steeper, tougher, and scarier than the Koko Stairs. It has about 3 instances as a lot elevation acquire and takes not less than 3 instances as lengthy to climb.

The Stairway To Heaven additionally has rather more epic views than Koko Head, however sadly it’s closed and unlawful for the general public to climb, despite the fact that the steps are arguably in higher form!

Learn Extra: Stairway To Heaven Hike


Extra Hawaii Journey Ideas

Thanks for wanting! I hope you loved this journey information for the Koko Head hike in Oahu, Hawaii.

Don’t overlook to take a look at my different Oahu mountain climbing guides and my full record of the finest issues to do in Oahu Hawaii!

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Finest Oahu Excursions


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