Hike Koko Head Crater Trail

March 26, 2015 by

Crater Head

Oahu’s Koko Head Crater is a volcanic cone located along the island’s shore in the outer neighborhoods of Honolulu. At one time it was a defensive lookout for the U.S. military, but was abandoned long ago.

What remains of the railroad track has now become a trail. It measures 642 feet in height, just a little smaller than the neighboring tuff cone Koko Crater, which measures 1,208 feet. It’s a popular landmark, and a favorite challenge calling hikers to make it to the peak.

Crater Head

Trail of Stairs Not for the Faint of Heart

The Koko Head Crater trail is made up of 1,048 stairs (railroad ties) which were put in place more than 60 years ago in order to get military supplies to bunkers located at the top.

This trail isn’t for the unfit, not just because of the number of stairs, but also because the trail itself gets quite steep in places. Plus, railroad ties don’t usually fit the normal human gait, which creates a tedious pattern.

These railroad ties are even a little trickier than normal because they are not evenly spaced, so you’ll have to stay alert and pay attention to where you place your foot.

A short bridge-like area of the trail proves to be intimidating to some because the old tracks leave the ground. If you think that might be a deal-breaker for you, don’t let it thwart your desire to hike to the top of Koko Head Crater. Instead, take the alternative route to the right.

Crater Head

Koko Head Crater Sights

Once you’ve climbed the 1,000 plus stairs, you’ll be rewarded with views of horse stables, cacti and many succulents, as well as the Koko Crater Botanical Garden where hiking is much easier and many of the plants have labels.

The view from the 1,200 ft. Koko Crater takes in the east end of Oahu, including Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay State Natural Area. The panoramic views are something you’ll never forget. Sore legs, on the other hand, might take a week or two.

Photo credits: Mark Wiens

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