Hikers familiar with the Diamond Head trail know all too well those 99 heart-pumping steps. They’re the ultimate test of your willpower before going through the bunkers and reaching the very top of the crater. Luckily for your quads, there’s now an easier way to get to the summit, and technically, it’s about 15 steps shorter.

Hikers can go left after the tunnel for an easier way to the top (top). Or challenge their legs with those 99 steps (bottom).

Less than a year ago, the state opened a new section to the trail that’s wider and safer for hikers. After the tunnel and at the base of the 99 steps, it loops around the summit toward the ocean before linking up with the original trail to the lookout. I finally had the chance to test out the new route, and let me tell you – on a windless day in the crater – it would be a welcomed relief to any hiker! The walkway’s all nicely paved with handrails on both sides. There’s also a new lookout platform from which to get the best view of Koko Head.

The idea is to have visitors go up the old stairway and back down on the new pathway. I saw hikers going in both directions so it doesn’t seem to be that strictly enforced (yet?). But with roughly 4,000 people conquering the crater every day, there will be less traffic jams like before. I remember there being so many people on the 99 steps at once, that it was difficult for anyone to move past each other. Needless to say, that’s become a safety issue overtime, especially because of how steep the steps are.

And no matter which way you choose to get to the top, it’s the panoramic view of Oahu’s southern shoreline that makes it all worth it.

DIAMOND HEAD SUMMIT TRAIL • Honolulu, HI 96815 • Opens daily (including holidays) 6am-6pm • Entrance fee: $5 per car, $1 per pedestrian • Easy-medium, marked, partially-paved trail • 808-587-0825

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