Koko Crater Arch Trail
Koko Crater Arch Trail
4.5
About
Also known as the "Koko Head Stairs," this abandoned WWII railway track is a steep and challenging hiking trail with over 1,000 steps (but worth it for the panoramic views).
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  • Ron
    Tampa, Florida33 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Good tough hike
    I hiked Koko head on my last day in Hawaii. Koko head is pretty challenging but the view from top is worth the hike. Definitely hike at your own pace and bring water. Best time to hike is early morning or during sunset. Aloha
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written August 1, 2023
  • Chris Pouliot
    8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Challenging but the view is worth it!
    The climb up is something that needs to be done in the morning before it gets too hot. The view at the top is breathtaking, well worth the effort. Beware on your way down however as it is easy to slip and tumble (my wife did and got banged up). Took us 1h40mins to get up going slowly and taking multiple breaks. Bring lots of water and snacks as there is nothing available at the top....
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 5, 2023
  • Happiness54300038802
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Good challenge for 76 yo man
    My son’s family lives near Koko head and impulsively I went one midday. I didn’t feel all that well at about 900’ (of 1,000’) so I didn’t finish and just came back down. I’m short so the stairs were tougher for me then, say a switch back trail. Also, I felt insecurity with footing and had to be cautious, otherwise I envisioned slipping and damaging a knee or worse. Because I didn’t get to the top I can’t really give it a proper review, but I can say that the next time I’m over there, I’m bringing hiking pole(s). What I liked best was the exertion level by time as it has the right amount of both for me.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written November 10, 2023
  • Alexis O
    Grand Rapids, Michigan186 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful Views at the Top
    This was hands down the most physically demanding and mentally challenging hike I’ve ever done, but the views at the top made it worth EVERY bit of suffering! The key things to keep in mind are to take it slow, bring and drink LOTS of water, go EARLY to avoid the heat, and pay attention to where you’re walking. This would not be a good hike in wind or rain. There are lots of places to pull off the trail to take breaks and there is a section that is pretty sketchy with exposed drop between the rail ties, but there is a bypass if you want to play it safe!
    Visited December 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written December 22, 2023
  • Paul Stewart
    Cameron Park, California54 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This is a beast, but nothing like you have done!
    I like to push myself on certain hikes and this a great one to test you. That said, I believe anyone can do it, but you just need to pace yourself and rush. Just turn around when you are out of gas and enjoy the view, then March on. They have pullouts to rest and sit if needed. One water bottle is enough, but a cool drink waiting for you in the car….🙏🏻👊🏼 I you are not afraid of heights and can focus well, take the railroad ties all the way up and down. If not, take the dirt trail pull-out for the section where the ties have a 40-50 drop underneath the gaps. Once at the top, explore the different paths for the plethora of views.
    Visited December 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written December 30, 2023
  • CEO
    Haleiwa, Hawaii2,312 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Views from the top.
    We hiked up to the top of Koko Crater on Tuesday at around 8 am. The trail was not too busy this early in the morning. And the sun is not as intense as later on in the day. It took us around 35 minutes to reach the top. We made several 1-2 minute stops to enjoy the views and take pictures. The steps are well maintained. Wear sport/hiking shoes with good support and grip. Steps are higher than standard stairs. It's safer to hike on a dry day. I suspect it can get slippery when the steps and loose gravel are wet. The best rewards when reaching the top are the awesome views. We hiked down after about 20 minutes. The hike down was faster. Watch your steps and be careful on the way down. There is no need to rush. We stepped aside to let people pass. Parking is free. There are bathrooms at the park but none on the trail. It's good to bring water and stay hydrated.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written March 1, 2024
  • Noelle DeLeon
    Baltimore, Maryland64 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A challenging hike but worth it!
    It is truly an amazing accomplishment to get to tackle this hike. It was so nice to experience people being kind and uplifting to other people. We all wanted to finish this hike. Definitely worth your time and effort to get to see the views from the top. Loved the renovations they have done to make the trail safer.
    Visited February 2024
    Traveled solo
    Written March 4, 2024
  • Brian F
    Toronto, Canada22 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great workout, free & awesome lookout
    One of the few free, but awesome adventures on Oahu. As everyone says...go early, take water, and for any weekend warriors..take your time and rest often, to make sure you get to the top. The look out is great. Two days later, and my calves and quads are still burning, buy worth it.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written March 13, 2024
  • Kchaney16412
    Plymouth, Indiana14 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A must try!
    This was on our list to do and the more we read and talked to others, we really doubted whether or not we could do this! haha. We traveled as a family with a 17 year old son and almost 14 year old son. We are all pretty active in our daily life and this was still TOUGH! We went as early in the morning as we could per recommendations. We had to rent a car and the rental car shop didn’t open until 8, so I’d say we didn’t get to Koko until 9 or so. We packed plenty of snacks and water and brought a light backpack and wore plenty of sunscreen. This was a brutal hike from the first stair. My husband didn’t make it more than halfway. He was afraid of injuring himself. My sons and I made it to the top, but needed to take several breaks along the way. There is plenty of step offs. The views from the top were breathtaking and worth the climb. But it was really hard. I would do it again, especially since I know what to expect now. I would still recommend going early in the day and taking fruit/nuts/water to eat along the way up or at the top before you come back down. Great experience! and it is FREE!
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written March 30, 2024
  • Joe R
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Loved it, amazing views with every step
    Thoroughly enjoyed it. Haven't hiked in years but managed- just. Partner chose to stay midway as it does get much steeper as you get closer to the top. Definitely take water and good shoes and was extremely windy off the main tracks at the top by the cliff edge. Highley recommend.
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written April 8, 2024
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lagunabridge
lagunabridge25 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
My 11yo daughter and I did Koko Head in June ‘22.

This is a nice “hike” to start out a day full of activities in Hawaii. It is a workout more than a hike as it is nothing more than a steep step-climb up an abandoned Army rail line up a mountain.

Due to limited parking and working out in cooler temps, I recommend going by 7:30am…we arrived at 6:30am and the parking lot was almost half full on a Monday morning.

The walk from the parking area to the first rail step at the foot of the mountain is approx 0.5mi. From there, the actual climb is approx another 0.5mi to the top. The first 0.30mi is reasonably steep and will fatigue you as most people likely pace poorly here…this is important because the last 0.20mi becomes even steeper just when your legs, butt and lungs are “feeling” it.

Many people simply sit on a rail or stand along the side to rest - be careful not to block access though.

The top is a small area where you can take in the views and catch your breath. It’s a short climb, but not an easy one, so take your time and pace well.
Written July 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kelly
Ewa Beach, HI80 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2020 • Couples
This I would rate more as a workout vs a hike as to me a hike you take in nature as you do it and can also let your mind go a bit and just enjoy the moment.. this “hike” you really have to be mentally on at all times.. one slip or mess up can be pretty detrimental. I can say it was not relaxing at all until you reach the very top. The panoramic view from up top makes the 1 mile vertical elliptical workout worth it. The views are stunning of north shore beach and neighborhoods. It is much cooler/windy up too so that definitely helps bring your body core temp down. We saw a few geckos and centipedes up top too, so be careful where you sit on rocks. Cool military history here!
Definitely take your time going up as well as coming down. You may want to wear a camelback first water vs carrying a water bottle so your hands are free to grab the train rails for help if needed. Definitely recommend to have water though especially if in the mid day as you won’t be blessed by the shade on this one.
This is a great workout for sure and we saw all ages and types of fitness levels making it.. one ..step ..at ..a ..time.. 💪
Written June 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daxman00
Clayton, CA27 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022 • Friends
Diamondhead gets all the hype, but Kokohead is ten times better for those who want a little bit of a challenge, amazing views, and a sense of accomplishment.

Couple key pieces of advice:

1) Get to the trail early. We started at 0830 and it was beautiful all the way up, but the temp was pretty hot when we descended the trail (after spending 45 mins at the top). I would recommend starting your hike by 0800 if not a little earlier.

2). Bring liquids! Water is good, something with electrolytes is highly recommended.

3). Wear sunscreen! There is no shade! A hat and sunglasses are also highly recommended.

4). Go at your own pace. Some people ascend to the top in 15 minutes (hard to believe, but watched someone do it), and others take 90 mins. Either pace will get you to the top, and that is all that matters. Plenty of places to pull off the side of the steps to take a breather.

5). Take photos and videos and enjoy the views all they way up and down.

We took Lyft from downtown Waikiki and the drive took approximately 30 mins and cost about $28. I and told you could take the bus system for about $3 and travel time would take approximately 90 mins.

After the hike, we walked a quarter mile (all flat and downhill) to the local shopping center and had lunch. Tons of food options and Kona Brewing has a location so you can soak up some well deserved tasty suds after your glorious hike.

We were a party of four, and two members were heavily on the fence about doing the hike with concerns over fitness level and endurance. Everyone was extremely happy post-hike and all agreed it was one of the highlights of the trip.
Written June 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CSyn107
34 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021 • Couples
Amazing hike - not for the faint of heart. Get there early to beat the crowd and take your time!!! It’s steep and difficult but we thought it was an awesome challenge with gorgeous views at the top. Definitely recommend if you’re a good hiker. I would NOT recommend going when it’s raining as the stairs get pretty slippery - all the more reason to go super early and catch the good weather/small crowds.
Written July 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patrick G
Baltimore, MD16 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
I'm not a hiker but in moderately decent shape. This was challenging but very worth it! I did this hike with 3 others, all in our early 30s (vs Diamond head, did with whole family including parents). It took us about 45min up, 35min down, spent about 30min on top taking pictures and enjoying the view. Up is harder physically, down is harder mentally (really worried we would fall!). These are not steps, there are areas where the steps are about 2ft apart and 20in in height. There is ~50ft where there is no ground under the steps. The "bypass trail" to get past this requires you to use a rope to help yourself up the mountain.

Some tips:
1. Definitely wear sunscreen, regardless of when you go
2. Go early- we went about 730A, still hot
3. Have everyone carry at least one water bottle and bring some sort of backpack (we used a lightweight drawstring satchel). There are places where you'll need both hands to hike
4. No bathrooms or waters on the trail, bathrooms at the bottom
5. Hike is free but we donated money to the group fixing up the trail
Written August 17, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Andres C
Newington, CT550 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022 • Couples
This is a very doable yet challenging hike. It’s all ascending and steep and there is a section where I’d advise taking the “alternate route” instead of going over the railway. With that said, plenty of people didn’t take the alternate route and you’ll see others literally running up/down without missing a step. If you’re on vacation, don’t ruin your vacation getting hurt. There are plenty of other hikes you want to stay healthy and injury free for.

With that said, I saw plenty of people in flip flops. Don’t do this. Most of the people that get hurt on these trails do not come even a little bit prepared. If you’re a Teva user, no these aren’t hiking shoes. There’s lot of dry dirt at Koko and in most of the Oahu trails and Tevas roll right over the dirt causing you to lose your footing.

You’re doing this hike for the thrill and the challenge for sure. There are some decent views at the top, but the summit itself isn’t all that nice. I’d recommend it in the early morning or time it for sunset. If you go during sunset, be prepared to sweat a lot and pack lots of water!Also, if you do it for sunset, you’ll likely be doing a portion of the hike back down in the dark. You’ll be in good company, but be extra careful and even consider a flashlight.
Written October 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Randall W
Lewisville, TX121 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022
The railroad ties of the old railway serve as steps up the mountain. We attempted it last summer when we were there, but started too late in the morning. So, it was hot, my son and I were both out of shape, and we didn't make it to the top. However, this fall we planned for it and worked out leading up to the trip. The park does not officially open until 6:30 which is right about sunrise that time of year. We arrived at 4:45, parked on a residential street, and hiked into the park along with some locals. I HIGHLY recommend the headband flashlights if arriving before sunrise. We used the flashlights on our phones. We took some amazing pics. Absolutely spectacular. I lost my footing on the way down and took a spill that resulted in some cuts, scrapes, and bruises, and it was still worth it. Initially I resigned myself to the fact that I had simply chosen the wrong shoes for the trek (running shoes). However, on the way down, I was passed by a local literally running up the mountain wearing flip flops and then another who was bare foot. I don't recommend either of those options for tourists. What I personally didn't think through was the fact that the climb is just as steep on the way down as it was on the way up. Reserve some energy for the trek down and do a LOT of stairs or the StairMaster as part of your workout before making this trek. HOWEVER, I DO recommend taking this trek... just start by 8am and you should be up and back down before the heat of the day.
Written December 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

York
4 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023
Great workout - stair master 5000! It's not a 'hike' IMO and you DON'T need hiking shoes like some people here will tell you. Runners are just fine but would avoid anything less like sandals. That said, shoes with at least a little grip will help on the way down, especially if there's any rain.

My partner and I are by no means athletes, but both casual hikers (38yo from Vancouver, Canada). Going up took us 22-25mins, going down was around the same. My calves were burning for days after the descent :P

Great views from the top. We did it not long after sun rise and before our 9am reservation at Hanauma Bay (which I wouldn't recommend but that's another review). The weather was wet, windy, cloudy, then sunny so glad we both had rain shells with us as it made a more comfortable time at the top.
Written March 17, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Art B
San Rafael, CA5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023
I'm a very experienced hiker who did this trail last week for the first time. I do NOT recommend this hike for kids or younger teenagers, because the downhill portion is so steep that if you miss your foot placement on the railroad ties on the downhill, especially during the section where the wooden ties are about 10 to 12 feet above ground level, a sprained ankle would be a lucky outcome. The day I did it, March 25th, they were air-lifting a young person I later heard was 12 years old who went too fast on the downhill, tumbled, and broke multiple bones, including his leg. A medical rescue helicopter was hovering for about 10 minutes before they lifted him off the hill.

As for older people (over 60, like myself ), or people are not so physically active who are thinking about doing this, carefully consider your fitness and agility level. You can and probably will take rests on the steep uphill, but some parts of the downhill don't lend themselves to stopping easily. It basically requires about 1000 controlled lunges on the downhill for anyone who isn't long-legged or who (like me) no longer has youthful flexibility.
Written March 31, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

James M L
Luzerne County, PA73 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Solo
This hike is easy to find, with adequate parking. Over the years I’ve been coming here, the wooden tyes are now in really bad shape. They have placed stones and bricks to help with the walk, but the crowds and runners make it a challenge. No real cover on the way up, but plenty of rest areas. I found the down just as challenging.

Once on top, the views are amazing! 360-degrees of water and mountain and coast.

There is a walk along ridge line which is rarely taken. It leads to the botanical garden within the crater. Some narrow areas, and watch for loose rocks. I would recommend long pants as the low lying branches can cut you up.
Written January 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Koko Crater Arch Trail - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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