The most torturous 1.048 steps of my life, so far – Koko head

Once my friends and I decided to do the Koko head stairs hike. We will regret it afterwards. If you want a challenging hike on Oahu you should definitely visit the Koko head stairs. But lets’ start from the beginning of this tortuous hike. The entrance to the Hike is at the Koko head park, Hawaii Kai. You have to follow the partially paved foot path behind the baseball diamond to the start of the railway. Standing in front of the railway and looking up is the part where you realize what you’re about to start. When you realize that the next steps will be the hardest steps of your life. During World War II, the military built several bunkers at the summit of Koko Head crater. They also constructed Koko Head Railway (now the Koko Head stairs) to move personnel and supplies up and down. There are 1,048 railroad ties (steps) to the end of the railway. The Koko Head stairs aren’t shaped evenly and are almost double the width of a normal stair so unless you are extremely tall, this could mean that you are either taking two steps for every railway tie or doing lunges up the whole way. Some of the ‘steps’ are very worn down as well so there are some makeshift steps and other areas where the dusty ground can be quite slippery. About half way up, is the railway bridge. It is a small section where the ground disappears out from under the track, replaced by green foliage. Here, you are literally crossing a railway bridge to the next section. If you have a fear of heights you can take a detour into the bushes until you pass this section. About three fourths of the way up you start to get a preview of the view that you’ll see from the top. Turning around you can see the gorgeous blue waters of Hanauma Bay.

The end of the railway isn’t the top of Koko Crater though. In order to get the real view and to access what it considered the top of Koko Crater Railway Trail, you weave your way up towards the metal grate platform. At this platform you could make the most amazing pictures with a perfect view.


  1. I always wanted to do this hike and now I can’t tell if I’m pumped or terrified to even go up there! I really like your photos though; I wish I could see more but your description is great!

  2. I did this hike 3 times, even though it is exhausting, the view is simply amazing and it doesn’t take too long. But I definitely understand what you’re talking about, the first time was torturous for me too because I didn’t know what to expect and it only got steeper and steeper the higher I went… This gets better though when you do it more often 🙂 Nice description and great shots!

  3. Hi Kristina,

    I have lived on Oahu all my life and I have never hiked Kokohead. Even though I am a hiker. I can’t do stairs, I get exhausted after like 5 steps. Also, the path is so narrow that I don’t want to hold anyone up. Although I have seen pictures of the view which is absolutely amazing I don’t think I’ll ever hike Kokohead. I’m glad you were able to do it. Great shots!


  4. I have never did this hike and probably won’t hahaha, but If I really wanted a good work out, this would be the first hike I would do. Koko Head is no joke. 1,048 steps of pure psychological tears.

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