The Koko Head Stairs hike is a popular one for both visitors and locals. Be forewarned, you need to be in good physical condition to complete this hike. While slightly less than three quarters of a mile in length, it is almost a 1,000 foot climb. There is one foot of elevation change for every two feet of distance.
The path is comprised of 1,048 railway stairs, and approximately a third of the way up there is a railway bridge that can be disconcerting to those afraid of heights. You have to carefully navigate the railroad ties while seeing a 20-30 foot drop between the ties. Some people circumnavigate the bridge on a path to the right.
The reward for making it to the summit is a breathtaking view of Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai and ocean views all the way to Molokai and Maui. Be careful going down, more injuries occur from people twisting an ankle or falling on the way down. There is at least one helicopter rescue per week, and that ride is scarier than the hike. Injured hikers are put into a basket that is attached by rope to the helicopter. Injured hikers are dangling from a rope as the helicopter delivers them to the grass of the regional park below. We’ve seen more than one rescue. It looks terrifying.
Wear breathable clothes and shoes that grip.
During WWII, the military built several bunkers at the summit of Koko Head Crater. They also built a railway to move supplies and personnel up and down. The railway ties that remain today comprise the stairs of the Koko Head hike.