CAVEAT: Before you read any further, please know that this entry was written from my POV….not a regular hiker, just someone who wanted to hike while in Hawaii.
I wanted to do a few hikes during our trip to Oahu. In the past, we’ve hiked Diamond Head Crater (3-4x), Makapuu Lighthouse, Manoa Falls, and Likeke Falls. For these hikes, I’d say we hiked them with our kids for about two hours round trip. We’re not experienced hikers, call us your casual hikers. Call us your “we’re in Hawaii so we should go on a hike” kind of hikers.
Since we’ve already hiked Diamond Head many times, I wanted to try something new, something that is also not too far from Waikiki. We stayed at Hyatt hotels in Waikiki, and would like to hike and choose something nearby. We did hike Diamond Head, and the following day, we decided on Koko Railway Trail Hike.
They said it was EASY
I searched Oahu Hikes and landed on OahuHike.com. They had great information, pictures, and what I thought we needed to decide to go for this hike. When I clicked the info on Koko Head, I saw these bullet points:
- 1.5MI/ 2.4KM(30-1HR)
- Difficulty: Easy
- Elevation gain: 1200ft/m
- Park Time: Sunrise-Sunset
- Parking: Parking at Koko Head Park
I found the keyword I was looking for…EASY. I mean, in my mind, how hard could EASY get? Going up, walking on a railroad track? And that it should take 1/2 hour to 1 hour….it just couldn’t get any easier, right?
Getting there was EASY
Yes, we left our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, just before 7am. It was an easy drive as we passed Hawaii Kai, and we made it to Koko Head Park by 7:30am. We had one backpack, one water bottle, and a bag of chips. We both wore our Nike Running shoes….we were ready to conquer KokoHead.
We had to walk past the baseball/softball field, and within 10-15 minutes, we were at the foot of the trail. By 7:45am, there were folks who were already finishing up their hike….lucky them. Honestly from our vantage point, it didn’t look intimidating. It was just a straight shot going up. There were no right or left turns….just a railroad track heading up. So I believed it….this had to be EASY.
The first half was EASY
There were no guard rails, and you would just need to stay on track (no pun intended) since these were old railroad tracks. There were hikers young and old. There were parents who carried their babies with a carrier. I did see a local guy with a traditional attire, and hiked barefoot. So yes, people watching was easy.
The trail was a straight flight of steps going up, so it wasn’t like part of the trail was hidden from you. We would walk up 20-30 steps, and stopped to catch our breath. Every break that we took gave us a great view of Oahu (Waikiki/Diamond Head from a distance, Hanauma Bay to the left, and Hawaii Kai to the right). Viewing the scenery was easy.
Halfway point scared me
There was a point during the hike where the tracks broke off and you’d have to climb back up to the trail. There was a sign off to the right, a pass. I thought, “why would I want to do that?” So I got back up on the track, and bam!!! I hadn’t realized that there was no ground beneath….yes, I could slip in and fall. I had no idea it was going to be like that. Scared, I couldn’t get myself to get up. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t seem to walk back down. I ended up crawling my way and the saving light, it was about 50 steps where there was nothing beneath. I’ve never been scared in my life. I just prayed not to miss a step.
People watching was EASY
As I said, we took many breaks in between. Heck, we are not hikers to begin with. It was not a race that’s for sure. There were others who do this regularly as part of their workout routine. I’ve seen a couple of folks go up and down, and had passed by me twice……and all I can say, “way to go!”
There was no need to keep looking up, it didn’t feel that that end of the trail was near, but after 1 hour and 45 minutes, we made it to the top.
The Summit at Koko Head
Yes, we finally made it. We rested for awhile once we got to the end of the tracks, and noticed that there was another short hike to get to the viewpoint. You have to be careful because you’d have to climb the roof and there were openings, one false move could mean trouble.
The views? Fine, I have to admit, it was so worth it to finally make it to the summit. Mission accomplished. We had 360 degree views of this side of the islands. We made it to the top just before 9:30am, and it was already quite warm….no drizzle, nothing but sun. We hung around and took lots of pictures, and rested. Meanwhile in the back of my mind, we still had another challenge, the hike back down.
Hiking down was EASY (or easier)
We now had the chance to hike down. I wish I could say that it was no sweat. We didn’t exactly run down. We still had to take very careful steps.
Again, there were no hand rails to guide you. We still found ourselves take breaks in between. It was already 10am and it was really getting so hot. We had already finished the water that we brought along. All I could think of was something icy to drink.
After 45 minutes, we made it to the both of the trail. What an accomplishment. For non-hikers, this was not exactly an easy hike. It took a lot out of us. I’ve heard it being referred to as a beast even for those who were physically fit. I’ll just say this, I’m glad we did it because I can tell you that I probably won’t do it again. 🙂