Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs)

Hey Internet and future self!

I recently went to Oahu, Hawaii for my first time and was amazed at everything this touristy island had to offer. Pictures don’t really do this place justice in terms of its beauty. I tried to stay away from as many tourist traps as I could, but the fact that their was a Dole Plantation with soft serve dole whip, it was really hard to refuse. My highlight of the trip: the Haiku Stairs.

I want to talk about one of the coolest, hardest, messiest, and the most amazing hike I’ve done called Stairway to Heaven. In Hawaii, the trail is called the Haiku Stairs and is known by both names. Unfortunately, the stairs is in a state if disrepair and illegal if you are caught traveling on them. Many people sneak past the guard to the entrance of these steps and travel the stairs all the way to the top. Be wary that fines are up to $1000 if you are caught.

I decided to take a legal route, which means taking a different hike that leads to the end of the stairs. The Moanalau Trail starts off at the cul-de-sac of a local neighborhood and forces you to take a three mile walk into a green forest valley.

From there you have to go off-trail and towards the mountain ranges where you climb quickly. You won’t see where you are until you are maybe a third of the way into your journey up. But even if you stop there, the views are pretty amazing.

The next leg of the journey will be the hardest. On top of traveling another 2500 feet up, this is where I encountered a ton of unavoidable mud on the pathway. It got to the point where I just stopped caring. To make it worst, I was wearing tennis shoes (FML). On top of that, you need to use climbing rope that was left from previous hikers in order to scale certain legs of the journey. Needless to say, I’ve slipped multiple times doing this. But then you get to a part of your journey where you reach the top of the mountain. From here, you can see the abandoned satellite house where the stairs end at. This part of the trip was probably the muddiest and the most dangerous as the clearance from each side of the mountain is about two feet on both sides.

So after scaling the mountain and crossing a mountain range for four hours, I finally made it with legs completely muddied, yet a smile on my face. See highlights below.

Top: End of Stairwell, Bottom-Left: Haiku Stairs from top to bottom, Bottom-Right: Satellite dish office (See the muddied legs from my German friend).

I met some random hikers along the way who I eventually met up later in the week for drinks. Lots of cool people; someone even brought a Bluetooth speaker and was having a little celebration party. After reaching the top, I already knew that going back down was going to be a bitch. I even contemplated just risking the guard and going down the stairs. But after sitting for about an hour, I knew I had to head back down… the legal way.


Needless to say, the journey was amazing and something I’d probably do again if another colleague was up for it. I retired the tennis shoes I used since it was so muddy from the hike. I’m proud of myself for completing the journey, especially now that I am working my body towards my fitness goal. If anyone attempts to do this hike, bring hiking shoes with spikes, expect to get super muddy, bring gobbles of water and several energy bars, and definitely start the hike early.

Adventure is out there and life is what you make of it; go get it!

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