Koko Head Crater Tramway Hike

19 06 2013

Ooh buddy, this was a hike.

As 2Chili said, “Most people come to Hawaii and just relax. We are not that bright.”koko_2

The Koko Head Crater Tramway hike is a lot like it sounds. It’s an old WWII tramway, which goes straight up the Koko Head crater, where an Army Observation Bunker sits. Railroad ties give the illusion of steps, but in reality, they are not steps, they are not evenly spaced, and they are generally not level. It climbs 1065 feet in only 3/4 of a mile, meaning it starts fairly steep and just gets progressively steeper, with a final pitch grade of about 52%. Ouchie.

There is a warning before you start this hike that it is hard (okay, it really says you could fall to your death), but that didn’t scare us – or any of the other folks there – off from doing it. In fact, some people were literally doing loops, which seems nuts, but if you like the Stairmaster, this is way more fun than endlessly stepping to nowhere!

Here’s 2Chili himself, at the start, before the sweat really started to roll. This was when I was still able to keep up with him. He ended up blazing quite a good time this day and I lagged a bit.


Here I am about 1/2 way up, starting to suffer like a dog! You’ll notice how high above town we are, but oh, it gets better! The views at the top are amazing!


This part was a little nerve-wracking, but it was short.This is where you definitely didn’t want to fall! I chose to scramble up it by holding onto the railroad track in more of a bear crawl approach.


This guy was doing loops – we saw him a couple times – and he didn’t exactly smell like a tropical breeze. He became known as “BO Man.”


Almost. There. <gasp> Less than 10 steps to go.


The top! Here is the inside of the crater.


But, here is why people do this hike. Absolutely beautiful.


Two sweaty fools.


I ended up talking to this guy for the majority of the way down, which was honestly just as hard as going up due to the slippery, non flat “steps.”


Here is the route:


And here is the elevation:


The literature says to expect to spend about 2 hours doing this hike, which is perhaps long, as my round trip was only 52 minutes. I ended up doing the hike to the top in 26:00, which is not very fast, but also not very slow – kind of a moderate pace, I’d say. Though, moderate is all relative – everyone seems winded when they get to the top!

2Chili did the hike to the top in about 21:00, and the fastest person on Strava has done it in only about 11:00, which is crazy nuts. Interestingly, the trip down also took 26:00 for me. That says something about the downhill!

After the hike we went in search of lunch, with plans to later boogie board, which is where I’ll pick up next…aloha!



4 responses

20 06 2013
debbie T

wow, I bet your photos don’t even do the scenery justice. Wow! How amazing! I have a harder time coming down sometimes too. Enjoy yourself!!!!

20 06 2013

Thanks Debbie, indeed, it was beautiful! We have done lots of hikes that end up with a viewpoint, but never something so direct with such a spectacular view!

20 06 2013
Lisa Halbert

Lovely!!! Make sure you check out Hanauma bay – it is spectacular.

21 06 2013
Friday Round Up 6/21/13 — Hawaii Vacation Edition | Test Kitchen Tuesday

[…] of the best views were on top of Koko Head Crater after hiking up an old tramway that climbed over 1000 vertical feet in about 3/4 of a […]

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