I was one of the crazies that decided to embark on this adventure. I didn’t want to leave Hawaii without witnessing the sunrise at the summit, so with my headlamp on, I started my ascent!
This abandoned railway track is called the “Stairs of Doom” for a reason! So, if you’re in for a challenge, this one is for you! Ready?
• Round trip distance: 1.8 miles
• Number of steps: 1,048
• Elevation gain: 1208 feet
• Type of hike: out and back
• Difficulty level: moderate to intermediate
WARNING: The city is not responsible for any injuries that you might incur. The hike is difficult. There’s loose gravel, beehive underneath the rails and so on and so forth. In case of emergency, call 911!
THE TRACKS: Footing could be a problem as the track is not maintained by the park. Some steps are completely worn out or have become hollowed out, while others are fine!
I started climbing up the Koko Head stairs at 5am when it was still pitch dark. The first set of steps were just regular steps that seem to go on forever. It gets progressively harder after the first 500 steps. It’s a steep uphill climb so be prepared to get your heart rate pumping! Once you get about halfway you’ll look up and realize that you’ve underestimated this trail! There are no ropes or handrails to help you up the stairs. But the sweet thing is, everyone was pulling for each other and offering words of encouragement. Fellow hikers make it fun!
You will reach a small section that is flat, it looks like a bridge with a 40ft drop, super dangerous as it was so dark! The last 200 steps required more effort than the entire trail. It took me close to 60 minutes to reach the top. Total butt-kicker!
What to see in the Summit:
The hike may be torturous but ultimately rewarding! It was such a great feeling having total strangers congratulating you for making it to the top! The views from the top were insane! Once you’ve successfully conquered the crater, you’ll be swept away by absolutely fabulous view of the sunrise!
There’s an amazing 360-degree view of Oahu as there are no mountains blocking the sights!
Hanauma bay looks so inviting even from afar! Go for a dip after the hike and get the best snorkelling experience in the island!
F A C T: The U.S. Army used Koko Head as a radar station and up to this day you will be able to see what remains of the station including bombproof shelters, metal grates and more!
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
1. Start as early as possible as it will only get hotter as the sun rises.
2. Bring plenty of water, wear a hat. Good hiking shoes are essential.
3. Ladies, I would encourage you to wear yoga pants. Stretchy pants are a must-have. Having a little bit of material over your legs will save your legs when you slip.
4. The trail is not for people with a bad heart condition, vertigo, etc. I believe you have to be in relatively good shape to pull this off! If you are not fit and healthy this trail could be extra challenging.
5. Take your time with multiple rests. Don’t hesitate to stop for short breaks on the way up.
6. Every so often, turn around and look back to the bottom and beyond, the view while on your way up is magnificent.
7. Make sure to step aside and allow other hikers to safely pass by you. There are many people along the way. I even had little kids passing me, a runner who was on his third lap of the mountain and serious athletes who come to test their endurance, cardio and fitness.
8. The trail is somewhat close to a gun range. So, don’t be frightened with the sound.
9. Don’t be alarmed if you see paramedics tending to someone, I heard they do few rescues in a week!
10. The trip down can also be hard on your knees, so I wouldn’t recommend this hike for anyone with knee issues unless you’re ready to take your time.
Please come prepared… It’s a gruelling upward hike and the journey to peak is not for the faint hearted! But there is no better feeling than conquering the Koko head stairs! After 1048 lunges, a lot of sweat and effort, I made it to the top! I’m a happy hiker! Let me know how you go! Excited to hear about your adventure!
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► Diamond Head Crater: Oahu’s Most Iconic hike
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The Travel Belle <3