Stairway to Heaven Hike (Haiku Stairs)
Stairway to Heaven, also known as Haiku Stairs, is one of the most notorious hikes in the Hawaiian Islands. Located on the island of Oahu, Haiku Stairs was originally a set of wooden stairs built by the US Navy in the 1940’s. In the mid 1950’s they were replaced with metal steps, 3,922 to be exact. The station at the top of the steps (2,480 ft!) , along with the trail, have been closed off to the public since 1987, but the hike is still accessed by many people daily.
Please note that this hike is officially closed off. Going on this hike is considered trespassing, and hikers have been fined from police if they get caught. (Many hikers have to sneak in past the guard – the guard will see you but can’t do anything once you’re on the hike. He can however call the police if he catches you entering/exiting). Many hikers park in the residential area, and police are cracking down and patrolling the neighborhood as well. The hike is getting increasingly difficult to access. Landslides also have damaged parts of the stairs, so hiking this trail is at your own risk!
Note: It’s possible to access the ‘back way’ of the hike through the valley. Please keep in mind though that the back way is extremely long, difficult, and dangerous. If you are considering this hike, please be cautious.
The hike is divided into 3 sections. I don’t have any pictures going up because we went at around 4am, but it’s basically all stairs until you get to the first platform – it takes about an hour to get here. A small section of the stairs had collapsed, but it was in an okay area where you could maneuver around it.
I myself nearly collapsed at the first platform, huffing and puffing after the worst Stairmaster session of life. The steps are killer! After some rest, and much mental hyping, I decided to continue on.
It took about another hour to get to the second platform, which was easier for me because I asked Jarden to carry my backpack. Yes, I’m aware that I need to work out more, & yes Jarden is awesome. It was still dark at this point and all I could see around me were steep drop offs and misty clouds – such a surreal moment! There’s also a cool little shack near the second platform, which is were we filmed and took a lot of pictures.
We let some people past us, which is a little difficult in a narrow space but doable. Honestly, some parts of the stairs freaked me out a bit – there are some sections where you are basically vertically climbing a ladder, and it sucks when your limbs are shaking from exhaustion. (Climbing down sucks also – I made sure to take my time and go slow!) I found that the workout gloves I brought helped with a lot with grip.
After the 2nd platform, it’s not much more up to the summit. We couldn’t believe we made it! There were a ton of people just chilling at the summit platform – all in all it took about 2.5 hours for us to climb up.
The hike was exhilarating, terrifying, and a giant check off the bucket list! Everyone in Hawaii knows about the Stairway to Heaven hike, and it’s always been a goal of ours to be able to say we did it. That being said, it was pretty strenuous, and I probably won’t be doing it again – a big reason being that it’s illegal and I’m not a fan of fines!
Would you consider doing this hike? Make sure to watch our video from the hike below!