Climb the Forbidden Haiku Stairs – The Stairway to Heaven

Tom’s Experience climbing the Haiku Stairs:

The Haiku Stairs is a very steep hiking trail on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The route was originally created in 1942 to enable antenna cables to be brought up to the summit for communication with submarines throughout the Pacific Ocean.

Entrance to Haiku Stairs

The trail started out with wooden ladders but in the mid 1950’s they replaced the wooden ladders with metal stairs and ramps. By one count there are 3,922 steps to the top. In 1987 the trail was closed to the public and the County of Honolulu currently has no plans for opening the stairs for public use.

Haiku Stairs

For us, this was quite the adventure. We started at 3:00 am in order to avoid the security guard. As we began up the stairs it started raining hard. We were instantly soaked through. The wind was also blowing very hard and we were all freezing. Our group wasn’t as prepared for the poor weather as we should have been but we just kept climbing the stairs and hoping we could warm up. As long as we kept moving we were fine and we would occasionally find refuge behind cliffs that would protect us from the wind for a moment.

Hawaiian Hikes

The stairs themselves are awesome and the views and the mountain are one of a kind. There are a few huts that you pass while climbing. The first had no roof and a very muddy floor. The last was on the summit and it had a roof but still a very muddy floor. When we got to the hut there were maybe 8 people already there trying to stay warm and getting a few more hours of sleep before sunrise. They had brought chairs to sit on which was very smart. The floor was mostly mud with quite a few puddles so if you plan on waiting for the sunrise you better bring something to sit on or plan on standing for a while.

Hiking the Stairway to Heaven

We were too wet and cold to wait for the sunrise so we decided to turn around. Make sure you dress warm if you plan on doing this hike and bring plenty of rain gear. Wearing gloves is also a must because the metal handrails can be cold and are slippery if wet. You will also need a headlamp since you must start this hike so early and you need your hands free to climb the rails.

Stairway to Heaven

The stairs can be steep (almost vertical) and if they are wet they can be very slippery; use caution if you are going to hike this trail. This is not an appropriate hike young children or dogs due to the danger of the ladders.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: Due to the “illegal” nature of this hike, I will not be posting directions. However directions are very easy to find it you search it on the internet. If you do decide to do this make sure you are courteous when you are driving towards and parking for the hike to not upset the locals. The trail is 3,922 steps and climbs 2,200 feet to the summit. The trail is 2 miles and is an out and back (up and down) hike. The distance may not seem long but the elevation change is a killer.


Haiku Stairs Summit Hut = 21.395614,-157.823985

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 Please comment below to share your experience on the Haiku Stairs or any Hawaiian hikes. Don’t forget to register to receive the Travel Tom’s Newsletter by submitting your email in the bar above. 

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