Hiking Hawaii: 1,048 steps up the old tramway of Koko Head, Oahu

April 30, 2015  •  1 Comment

-by Edyta-

If you drive down Kalanianaʻole Highway on the South East side of the Island, near Hanauma Bay, your attention will most likely be directed to a steep mountain with a narrow path and a bunch of people climbing it in the distance. You will most likely start to wonder what this mysterious mountain is, ask some people about it, and before you realize you will be climbing the steep tramway yourself. This is pretty much what happened to Vlad, Gabi, and I when we first visited Oahu in 2011. In total, this was our second time this year and fifth time ever doing this hike. We were joined by our friend Rocky who lived on Oahu for almost three years before returning to his native Canada. 

I know what you're thinking; what's the deal with the tramway up the mountain? Who built it there and why? 

The tracks, which so many locals and tourist love to climb today, date back to 1942 when they were installed by the US Army. They were used as part of a tramway to transport army personnel and supplies to the top where a radar station was located. It was inactivated in 1966. Currently, 1,048 steps that scale the steep mountains serve as an outdoor stair-master to many. 

at the beginning of Koko Head hikeat the beginning of Koko Head hikeat the beginning of Koko Head hike Vlad and Rocky approaching the trail. It's really cool to climb up a track which was built over 60 years ago to get supplies to the military bunkers at the top.  Climbing Koko Head Trail in OahuClimbing Koko Head Trail in OahuClimbing Koko Head Trail in Oahu Fun fact: Koko Crater is also known as Kohelepelepe, which means “labia minor” in the Hawaiian language. Hmmm....  So much fun to climb this old volcano Going up Going up First water break.  At around half way there is a bridge that goes above a small valley.  Some parts of Koko Head can be a bit dangerous, especially the bridge. Is Koko Head dangerous?Is Koko Head dangrous

For those scared of hight, this bridge can be a bit of a nerve wrecker.    Hanauma Bay can be seen from the Koko Head hike. Hiking Koko Head with views of Hanauma Bay Hiking Koko Head with views of Hanauma Bay     

Looking down at the trail behind us.  Stopping to catch your breath allows you to look at the view of the beautiful Hanauma Bay State Park amazing views hiking ridges in Hawaii Not a bad place to do some thinking about life and other serious things... like where to get lunch? Which beach to go to after the hike? And what yoga class to take in the evening? Those are my favorite "problems". :-) Finally at the top! After the stairs ended, we walked up a bit to see 360 degree views of the island. Could these views be any better? I love this wonderful view of the ridge. So happy we had our friend with us so we did not have to rely on self timer for once. We refuse to get the selfies stick. This short but demanding hike left us feeling accomplished and happy. standing on a bunker of WW2bunker from WW2Leftover bunkers from World War Two are located at the top of Koko Head hike. It's really bizarre to see these metal structures. You should be careful climbing them because there are some holes you could easily fall down through. Walking up a bit further we got to some metal structures.  long hair female looking at Oahu from a summit girl hiker overlooking OahuThis is one of my favorite photos of myself. I love all the different shades of blue in this picture. Look at the ocean! It looks like a painting. I was so happy to be able to do so many hikes during our stay in Hawaii. View of Hawaii Kai residential neighborhood and the southern part of the island.  no new friends on top of the mountain Happy to be on the top.  Some lone girl taking pics.  Boys love to climb mountains Hanauma Bay as seen from the top How can one not fall in love in Hawaii? With views like this it is going to be very hard to leave this gorgeous state. It's so easy to go on a hike before or after work or on weekends. It sure beats a dark and stuffy NYC gym. Time to descend.  At the beginning of the stairs.  Steep stairs going down the stairsIt is impossible to go down the stair without stopping multiple times. The views are simply amazing. Also it helps you to take a much needed break and sip some water. Don't forget to bring lots of aqua yallz!!! Going down. Don't forget to bring all your trash with you. This trail is not maintained by the city but rather but other hikers. 

Going down some more while sharing words of encouragement with people going up :-)

Here's what Koko Head used to look like (source link here).

What a wodnerful beach Halona Beach Cove After the hike we drove to a nearby Cockroach beach aka Halona Beach Cove which is next to a famous lookout spot.  Cockroach BeachSeems like we can't get away from hiking. We hike even to get to the beach. To access the beach we hiked down some rocks.  This little beach was a cool spot for snorkeling (no coral reef, just fish). This is where we saw Hawaii state fish humuhumunukunukuapua'a aka reef tiggerfish.  relaxing at the beach The beach along the highway was extremely picturesque and we spent about two hours relaxing there. Love vacation! After snorkeling we napped. Another day well spent. And the only work we did was on our tans and our fitness. Can live be like this forever???? (hint: not really, no, don't kid yourself girl) lol. 

So would you add this hike to your list of things to do when visiting Oahu? 


Beautiful Hike! I love all the photos, and Hawaii is on my list of once in a lifetime places to see and explore. Thanks for sharing!
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