Koko Crater Railway Trailhead


The most famous volcano crater hike on Oahu is of course Dimaond Head but if you are looking for something a little more challenging then you may want to try Koko Crater.  This trail is rated as strenuous and is not for the faint of heart.  Boasting a straight trail with more than 1000 steps up a straight incline. You will feel more like you are on an intense stair climber routine than a walk on a treadmill. 

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Koko Crater Railway Trailhead

Know your Limits:

When we visited Oahu, we decided to tackle the Koko Crater trail and climbed 51 floors according to our Fitbit. At that point, we decided this was not the hike to complete if we wanted to enjoy the remainder of our 72-hour Hawaii adventure.  This is a very demanding climb and not one to be taken lightly. 

If you are planning to hike this trail, I suggest you do some physical prep work before you go so you will be ready to tackle this strenuous hike. 

Steep, no-shade, climb to the top of Koko Head Crater that includes spectacular panoramic views of the east Honolulu shoreline, Hanauma Bay, and parts of Moloka’i. The 1,000+ step walking track consists of abandoned railroad ties that run along the crater’s west side to the top of Koko Crater. The military used them previously during World War 2 as part of an incline tram to transport supplies to a lookout post at the summit. Halfway up, there is a “bridge” portion without ground beneath ~50 rail steps, but there is bypassing trail if you’re scared.


Stay hydrated

Whether you are fit and ready for this climb or planning to just do a part of the hike, you should pack plenty of water so you can stay hydrated.  There is no shade on this hike as you are going straight up the side of the crater.

Wear proper shoes

While we were there, we did see a few hikers climbing without proper hiking shoes.  This trail is a railroad track that goes straight up the side of the crater with gravel and railroad ties for steps.  The steps were a little too far apart for me to take them one at a time, so I would occasionally kick gravel which would have been uncomfortable with open-toed shoes.

Things to Know:

  • There are no restrooms available at the trailhead.
  • No tickets are required.
  • The first half of the trail is fairly straightforward with railroad ties for steps but the 2nd half of the trail becomes more steep.

Stop and enjoy the views

There are amazing views all along the climb so take plenty of breaks to turn around and enjoy the scenery.  You even get a great view of Diamondhead and the island of Oahu.

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