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Need to know




Don’t let the length of this hike fool you. It’s short, but brutal. At one time, “1048 to top” was painted on the first step. That’s because you’ll hike up 1048 steep stairs to get the top. The stairs are actually old railroad ties, a remnant of WW2. The military built a railway to bring supplies to military bunkers at the top. This is a steep, straight line climb from start to finish.

When you get to the summit, the first thing you’ll notice is exhausted hikers, sprawled out on the ground trying to catch their breath. You’re high enough to enjoy a welcome breeze and take in the sweeping views of the eastern coastline below. You’ll be able to see the Honolulu skyline, Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head, Sandy Beach, and Makapu’u Lighthouse. You’ve also got a bird’s eye view of Koko Crater Botanical Garden.

The view from the top and the chance to hike up a dormant volcano makes Koko Crater Trail one of the most popular hikes on Oahu. People joke about how tortuous this hike is, but they’ll immediately follow it up by saying the view from the top makes it worth it. This is one of the most scenic hikes in Hawaii (and you walk away with some serious bragging rights).

Some locals even make this a regular part of their weekly workout, racing to the top trying to beat their previous times. 


AllTrails Listing


7491 Kokonani St.

Honolulu, Hawaii 96825

Contact Info






  • 1.8 mi up and back

  • Elevation: 990 ft in 0.7 mi

Time Estimate

  • At least 35 - 45 min to the top

  • Some can race it in 20 min, but that’s pretty exceptional


  • Kona Brewing Co — 9 min drive

  • Leonard’s Bakery Malasada Truck — 9 min drive

  • Hanauma Bay — 10 min drive

  • Halona Beach Cove — 12 min drive

  • China Walls — 12 min drive

  • Koko Crater Botanical Garden — 13 min drive

  • Sandy Beach — 15 min drive

  • CowCow Tea — 20 min drive

  • Koko Head Cafe — 21 min drive

  • Diamond Head — 23 min drive

  • Waikiki — 26 min drive

  • Maui Brewing Co. Kailua — 28 min drive

Hike 1048 steps up a dormant volcano. The steps are old railroad ties from WW2. Breathtaking views of Hanauma Bay and the eastern coast from the bunker at the top.

Koko Crater Trail


View from the hike up Koko Crater Trail in Oahu, Hawaii

Good to know





  • Hiking boots or sneakers. Something with good traction. The railroad ties make for a very uneven surface. Leave the flip flops at home.

  • A headlamp if you want to make it to the summit in time to catch the sunrise. You might drain your phone battery if you use it as a flashlight and you’ll need 2 hands to make it across the bridge.

  • Breathable clothes.

  • A backpack is handy. Especially if you're carrying a water bottle or decide to strip off some layers as you climb. There are a couple spots where it's nice to have both hands free. 



  • Prayer Box. At the top, just behind the first graffitied military bunker, there's a wooden box sitting in a tree with a pencil case and papers attached. You can write your own prayer and leave it in the box. 

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  • If you can, start this hike an hour before sunrise. It’s a lot cooler and watching the sunrise from the top is incredible. Heads up, even if you get there before the sun comes up, there’s a good chance you won’t be the only one. If you get there while it’s still dark, bring a headlamp. FYI that if you get there before sunrise, the gate to the parking lot may be closed. Just park nearby, and walk the rest of the way.

  • The parking lot is free. Walk behind the baseball fields to get to the trailhead.

  • After you wrap up the stairs, head about 30 feet or so towards the metal grate platform for the best spot to take photos.

  • If you’re here during the winter, you may want to hike it around 3pm. At this time of year, the sunset casts a golden glow that’s really beautiful. 

  • About halfway up, you’ll cross a short bridge with no ground below and about 10 ft to a ravine below. Watch your step and tread slowly. (FYI: If this is not your cup of tea, there’s a dirt trail to the right. Follow it for a few minutes and you’ll bypass the bridge and reconnect with the railway.)

  • The hike is steepest after the bridge. 

  • If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to skip this hike.

  • There’s another way down the crater. If you head along the ridge towards the ocean, you’ll find a trail that heads to Koko Crater Arch. Just know that you’ll need a 2nd car to get you back to the Koko Crater Trail parking lot.



  • It’s accessible all year round.

  • It can be crowded any time of day. Even if you get there before sunset, you probably won’t be alone. 

  • There's about 1 foot of elevation for every 2 feet of distance. That's what makes it so brutal. 

  • Descending might take you just as long or longer because your legs are smoked. Most people take it slowly.

  • There isn’t much shade along the hike, but when you reach the top, there’s a breeze and some trees providing some shade.

  • You may see people racing up the hill. A lot of regulars book it up the trail once or twice a week as part of their workout, or trying to beat their previous times. 

  • The stairs aren’t evenly shaped and are really worn down which means the footing is pretty uneven. They’re also pretty wide, so you’re taking a couple steps for each stair.

  • If you go during spring and summer, there will be pretty wildflowers along the track. 



  • The “steps” used to be a military railroad that ran food, supplies, and personnel up to an Air Force Station and barracks at the summit during WW2. Railroad ties were mounted to the side of the crater and a gasoline-powered winch in a tramcar carried the cargo.

  • Koko Crater is a dormant volcano, but more specifically, it’s a tuff cone. Basically, magma came into contact with the sea water which sent ash into the air. As it settled on the ground, layer upon layer of volcanic ash solidified. 

  • Koko Crater Trail goes by a few other names, like “Koko Crater Railway Trailhead,” “Koko Crater Tramway” “Koko Head Stairs,” or (our favorite) “Koko Head Stairs of Doom.”

  • This is 1 of 5 trails in Koko Crater Regional Park. 

Last Updated 12 / 10 / 22

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