Koko Crater Railway Trail: 1,048 Steps of Exercise & Beauty

What was once a railway track to haul supplies to World War II military bunkers is now a challenging, yet efficient, hiking trail for Honolulu residents. The Koko Crater Railway Trail takes hikers up 1,028 feet via its 1,048 railroad ties or “steps.” With many regulars clocking in at less than 30 minutes to the summit, it is a convenient stop for a morning workout. Many begin their trek early to beat the sun and crowds.

The trail’s approximate halfway point is marked by a bridge spanning a 10-15 foot gully. A trail to the right bypasses the gully for those who may be less sure-footed. Since it lies off the beaten path, many use the bypass as an opportunity to catch their breath and hydrate.
The being808 team also learned hiking etiquette on the trail. As the steps are considerably steep at certain points, hikers (sometimes with dogs) coming down the trail have the right of way. Those going up should step to the side to allow them passage. However, one should use caution when doing so, as slippery gravel can accumulate on the side.

At the top of the ultimate Stairmaster, hikers are treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding area. By climbing on top of an old heliport, Hawaii Kai and Diamond head can be seen in the distance. In the opposite direction, there is a bird’s-eye view of the botanical garden lying inside Koko Crater. As with our experience on the Ka`Iwi Scenic Shoreline Trail, nature’s beauty was marred by graffiti – mostly on the old bunkers. Just as a friendly reminder, the being808 team encourages everyone to be respectful of our trails.

It’s comforting to know that something created as a result of war is now used as a fitness tool for kama`aina, tourists and four-legged furry friends.


  • Pingback: The Many Environments of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail - Being808

  • We hiked this last week and it didn’t look that ominous and started out pretty easy but the higher we got the harder it got. I am glad about the little trail to the right of the “bridge”, that probably saved my life. Breathtaking views from the top and we saw some whales frolicking off the coast. Watch yourself on the way down though! It gets slippery when wet, even the cinder block spacers were slick as wet fish. I got to take home a souvenir that still hurts a bit.


  • I did Koko Head for the first time last week & even though I run/workout regularly I found it extremely challenging but the reward of the breathtaking views from the top was well worth the effort to make the climb. I had to go around the bridge over the gully on the way up & crab walk down it, but I’ll do it again the next time I visit!


  • Laura Honeycutt

    My brother and I took on Koko Trail today, needless to say, we aren’t as in shape like we thought. That was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, the view at the top was worth every drip of sweet shed. One tip, be very cautious when you get to the “bridge” about halfway up the trail, very risky, I slipped a couple times, there is a trail if you want to go around it!


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