Koko Crater Railway Trail

by admin

Koko Crater railway trail is one of favorite things to do when hanging out on Oahu’s east side. Many locals call this hike Mother Nature’s ultimate Stair Master. It’s an absolute must for anyone looking for a fun and challenging outdoor workout. By the first hundred steps, you will already break a sweat.

Koko Crater trail steps

The Koko Crater trail has 1048 steps. They  are part of an abandoned railway once built by the military during World War II. The tracks were used to haul supplies to a lookout post at the top of the crater.

What’s great about this hike is you can walk or run at your own pace. You can take your time, talk with friends or check out the views.

Hike recommendations

If you are going to visit the Koko Crater railway trail, we recommend you to take lots of water breaks. The key to a good hiking is the proper hydration. At the mid point, there’s a bridge that goes over a 15-foot gully. It’s a bit of a daunting at first, but if you take one step at a time you’ll be fine. Once you pass the bridge you’ll really start to feel the elevation.

As you climb higher and higher, it becomes more difficult to breath. But it will keep getting better and better and you will also have more beautiful views! Don’t worry about anything and stop for more brakes if you need to. The real reward will be at the top – 360-degree views of Oahu’s southeastern region.

Admire the picturesque Hanauma Bay and the crater’s azure waters, and observe waves crashing along Sandy Beach, creating frothy white patterns. To the west, Diamond Head stands prominently, backed by Honolulu, while the islands of Moloka’i and sometimes Lana’i grace the eastern horizon. If you prefer exploring crater’s arid interior rather than hiking the railway trail to the top, the Koko Crater Botanical Garden provides self-guided tours across the 60-acre basin, showcasing its vibrant dryland landscape.

Locals choose to hike Koko Crater, because it is a good way to get a workout. It is not just a physical journey, but a mental one too. And can’t beat the view. When you are at the top, you can really relax and take in the fresh air. Just remember – take it slow, don’t run out and try to be competitive and don’t be intimidated by other people.

Going back down is so much easier and quicker too. It can get  a little tricky on the way back, when you are crossing the bridge. Some people choose to take the dirt trail on the left. Or you can just go slowly over the tracks. This is the part where shoes with good grip are very important.

Koko Crater location

The starting point for the railway trail can be found on Koko Head Park Rd., accessible from Kalanianaole Hwy. There are no fees or specific operating hours for the hike; however, the cooler morning and evening hours are preferred by many due to the absence of shade. Remember to carry ample water, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the stunning panoramic views. The Botanical Garden is open during daylight hours daily, with the exception of Christmas Day.

How to get to Koko Crater Railway trail?

To reach Koko Crater from Waikiki, follow these directions:

By car:

  1. Head east on Kalakaua Avenue.
  2. Turn left onto Kapahulu Avenue, which merges into Waialae Avenue.
  3. Continue on Waialae Avenue, then take the on-ramp onto H-1 East.
  4. Follow H-1 East until it becomes Kalanianaole Highway (HI-72).
  5. Continue on Kalanianaole Highway, then turn left onto Koko Head Park Road.
  6. Drive until you reach the Koko Crater Trailhead parking lot.

By public transportation (TheBus):

  1. From Waikiki, take Bus Route 22 (The Beach Bus) or Route 23 heading eastbound.
  2. Get off at the intersection of Kalanianaole Highway and Koko Head Park Road.
  3. Walk along Koko Head Park Road towards the Koko Crater Trailhead parking lot.

Please note that bus schedules and routes may change; it is recommended to check TheBus website (www.thebus.org) for the most up-to-date information.