I repeat, do not hike the Koko Head stairs in the middle of the day! Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but I want to help you have the most enjoyable time that you can on the Koko Head Trail. This trail has many names, such as the Koko Crater Railway Trail, Koko Head Trail, Koko Head Stairs, etc…, but they are all the same trail. Essentially, you hike up what was once an old supply railway for the barracks that were at the top of Koko Head. This seems simple enough, but for the unprepared, this is a tough hike.
Best time to hike the Koko Head Stairs
Let’s just say that we hiked the Koko Head Stairs in the middle of the day so you don’t have to. My wife and I are both above average when it comes to fitness, so we came in expecting this to be a walk in the park. It was 2 PM when we arrived at the base of the stairs. We looked up and thought this can’t be that bad, but we quickly realized that the steep incline and the blazing heat would really make this a slow process. It took us over an hour to get to the top, while stopping many times. We were ecstatic to arrive at the top, but we could have made it way more enjoyable by choosing the correct times. Koko Head is open 4AM – 11PM daily. Here are our best recommended times based on our experience and what we have heard from others:
- Sunrise koko head hike: In June, sunrise is around 5:50AM, so if you start the hike at 5AM, you will get to see the sunrise at the top
- Sunset koko head hike: In June, the sunset is around 7:15PM, so if you start the hike at 6:25PM, you will get to see the sunset at the top
- Night time hike. Not many people think of this, but when you get to the top and see the lights of Honolulu, you will realize that it is a special hike. The park closes at 11PM, so anytime before that is a great choice, especially for long exposure photography.
How to hike the Koko Head Stairs
The easiest way to get to the base of the Koko Crater Trail is to park in the Koko Crater Trailhead parking lot, located at these coordinates 21.277779, -157.692480. Follow the paved path starting on the northeast corner of the parking area. After a couple hundred feet, you will see a dirt crossover path that will lead you to the Koko Head Park Rd. Take a left and follow that along until you see the stairs on your right. The road is only about one fifth of a mile, and it is a fairly level walk. Once you get to the base of the stairs, look up, and enjoy the amount of stairs before taking the hike (the number is 1.048 steps). Be sure to take plenty of breaks, enjoy the views, and pace yourself. If you go during our suggested times, you will have much less difficulty with the hike. The morning are usually breezy and comfortable, which will make the hike more enjoyable.
Important Koko Head Stairs Coordinates
Koko Head Stairs Parking – 21.277763, -157.692382
Crossover from parking lot to dirt road – 21.278232, -157.691614
Base of Koko Head Stairs – 21.280850, -157.691984
Koko Head Stairs Summit – 21.284726, -157.686663
No matter what time of day you go, it will be difficult to hike the Koko Head Stairs. But, if you follow our advice, you will have a much more enjoyable time. Going in the morning for a sunrise hike would be our best recommendation, although if you like pretty city lights, the night time hike might be more your style. Do yourself a favor and don’t go during the middle of the day when the sun is beating down on your back. Another important thing to note is that the tradewinds come from the east, and the side of the mountain that the stairs are on faces west. With that being said, you will most likely get zero wind blowing on you until you reach the top. Please use our coordinates and let us know if there is something that you think we should write about.
Have you ever hiked the Koko Head Stairs? We would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.
Do you like our photos? Head on over to our Lighroom Presets page and learn to take your photos to the next level.