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6. Koko Crater Trail

Top of the Koko Crater Trail on Oahu
If there’s a highway to hell, then this is the tramway to paradise.

The Koko Crater Trail, also known as the Koko Crater Stairs, is a test of endurance and mental strength. Consisting of 1,048 thousand steps built into a steep hill that rises 1,200 feet above the Hawaii Kai residential area and Hanauma Bay, it’s a short hike that keeps getting harder and harder. If you like sweeping panoramas and giving your calves a good burn, this vertical walk was made for you.

During WW2 the military built the island’s pill-box bunkers, but when they needed a way to haul cargo up the mountains, they created the Koko Crater Tramway. The leftover rails are now used as hiking stairs to reach the top of the military bunkers and the ridgeline.

After parking in the Koko Head District Park, head towards the easily discernible trail and start making your way up. After the first 100 steps, you will start to see Hanauma Bay and the Port Lock Peninsula. Keep making your way up and eventually you’ll reach a beautiful lookout over the Koko Crater.

“It’s just stairs, how hard can it be?” you might think, but the ones on Koko Crater Trail are much longer and taller than your average house stairs. Even the flat section poses a challenge as it’s a bridge with a 40-foot drop. If you’re afraid of heights, there’s an alternative route you can take.

Bring plenty of water and avoid going at midday. If you’re aiming for a sunset hike, don’t forget your headlamp! If the Koko Head Stairs are too busy but you still want to get up close and personal with the crater, check out the Koko Crater Rim Trail.

About the author
Nandor Szotak
Hawaii hiking guide and founder of Hungaro Explorer

Nandor is an avid hiker on Oahu and owner of Hungaro Explorer. Hawaii has been home for many years and in that time he has volunteered in a Hawaiian trail and mountain club, volunteered as search and rescue, and has helped with local trail maintenance. Whenever he is in nature, Nandor's first priority is respecting the land he is on and the people who lived there long before him.

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