Koko Crater Trail’s popularity has triggered lots of problems, including a very stinky one

Published: Jun. 7, 2019 at 5:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hoards of visitors are now tackling Koko Crater Trail daily.

And all that popularity has come with plenty of problems, some more stinky than others.

Jane Howard, president of Kokonut Koalition, a new non-profit dedicated to preserving the destination that features tramway steps, said hikers go off trail when Nature calls.

And with so many visitors, that’s a lot of no. 2 ... and no. 1.

“Yes, it’s become a toilet bowl,” Howard said. “No one wants to run into defecation and urination and whatever else you see."

The problem is just the latest for the attraction, whose popularity has soared in recent years.

Residents say they’re also seeing significant deterioration of the trail, and lots of traffic in an otherwise quiet community.

City Council budget chairman and Koko Head hiker Joey Manahan earmarked $1 million for improvements to the eroding trail.

He said those smells on the trail are no exaggeration. “I unfortunately have been smelling odors," he said. “And I’m not sure if it’s people or animals, but it’s fecal odors.”


One major issue: It’s not just visitors coming in cars to the trail, but visitors coming in tour buses.

At the entrance to Koko Head District Park, where the trail starts, about 30 or more cars start staging as early as 4 a.m. Signs show the park opens at 4 a.m., but the gates don’t open until 6:30 a.m.

[Read more: Think climbing Koko Crater is hard? This group did it 709 times in less than two weeks]

Manahan said it’s up to the city to ensure the trail doesn’t fall victim to its own popularity.

“If they are coming, they are more than welcome to come," he said. “It’s up to us on how we are going to mitigate that here in the city.”

The park does have restroom, but there’s interest in adding more amenities.

In a statement, the city Department of Parks and Recreation said that the $1 million appropriation for the trail is a good start.

“We very much look forward to seeing what the best option is to address the eroding conditions of the tramway,” he said. “It is also encouraging to see the involvement of community groups like Kokonut Koalition with this type of planning, as it garners public input and support from the get-go.”

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