A Hike Up the Ultimate Stair Master—Koko Head Crater Railway Trail

by: Evan Fa

Of course, a nice leisurely hike on vacation is a guarantee for most vacationers visiting the Hawaiian islands. And there is more than enough of these types of hikes to be found on Oahu. For those interested in more of a brisk challenge, a way to burn off some of that loco moco (a contemporary Hawaiian meal consisting of a bed of rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg with gravy), a simple feat of strength to look back upon his or herself with respect for accomplishing while on vacation, Koko Head Crater Railway Trail is the place to do just that.

Koko Head Crater Railway Trail is located on the southeast side of Oahu. The trail itself is made of the railway leading up to the pillbox bunkers used during World War 2. The railway was used to transport cargo and supplies to and from the pillbox bunkers. The pillbox bunkers were used as defense posts to both keep an eye out for as well as fire upon potential invaders. Well over a half century later that same rail way makes for one of the great modern day stair masters that will give even the most avid athlete a run for his or her money.

The trail itself starts off on a moderate, smooth incline that is deceptively easier than than the rest of the hike. Deceptive because as one persists it only gets more and more steep and thus difficult. It then takes its most vertical slope right after the bridge section of the hike. Worn out from the the previous two-thirds of the hike, the last quarter is where most people run out of gas (or burn the most gas) in the tank. Of course, while that is in fact true, this section is also the most rewarding, or let’s say “fulfilling,” section of the Koko Head Crater Railway Trail.

Reaching the top feels so good. While it is not Mt. Everest, nor is it even close to the highest point of Oahu, it somehow feels something like that after burning out those quads in order to reach the pinnacle of Koko Head Crater Railway Trail. And while some feats of strength like this may not provide the greatest vistas, Koko Head is a far cry from disappointment. Whether its Hanauma Bay into town from one end or Sandy’s and Makapu’u Point on the other, the views one can take in from all angles are worth all the effort.

In order to get to the trail head from any of the Turtle Bay Rentals condominiums on the Turtle Bay Resort, take Kamehameha Highway south through Kaneohe to Kalanianaole Highway and then follow it through Waimanalo along the shoreline into Hawaii Kai. From there take a right on Lunalilo Home Rd. and take another right on Anapalau St. until it run into Koko Head Park Rd, where there is parking at the foot of the hike. The drive typically takes an hour and a half with plenty of scenery to admire along the way.

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