Haiku Stairs Hike: Unveiling Hawaii’s Stairway to Heaven – A Step-by-Step Adventure Guide

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The Haiku Stairs, often called the Stairway to Heaven Oahu, is a famous hiking trail in Oahu, Hawaii. This hike is celebrated for its breathtaking views and its steep climb of over 3,922 steps, reaching an elevation of about 2,800 feet. With stunning vistas of the Koolau mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, the Haiku Stairs Hike is a must-do for thrill-seekers and nature lovers. Furthermore, the adventure promises an unparalleled experience.

History and Background

The Haiku Stairs, known as the Stairway to Heaven Oahu, was built during World War II by the U.S. Navy to access a high-frequency radio station. This station was vital for communicating with Navy ships in the Pacific Ocean. The trail, with its 3,922 steps, climbs roughly 2,800 feet along the Koolau mountain range. The stairs were crucial during the war but fell into disuse afterward. By the 1980s, it became a popular, unofficial hiking trail. Despite its allure, the trail was closed to the public in 1987 due to safety concerns. Efforts to restore and reopen it continue today. Consequently, the stairs have become a symbol of both historical significance and natural beauty.

From above of stairway leading down to tropical forest with breathtaking view of ocean surrounded with powerful mountains

Preparation and Planning

The Haiku Stairs, or Stairway to Heaven Oahu, requires careful preparation and planning. Currently, the trail is officially closed to the public, and trespassing can lead to fines. Therefore, hikers need to stay updated on regulations and respect local laws.

Essential Gear:

  • Sturdy hiking boots with good grip
  • Reliable backpack with water, snacks, and a first-aid kit
  • Gloves for added grip
  • Flashlight or headlamp for early morning or late evening hikes

Physical Preparation:

  • Regular cardio workouts and leg-strengthening exercises
  • Familiarizing oneself with easier hikes in Oahu to build endurance

Weather Considerations:

  • Best time to hike is during the drier months from May to September
  • Always check the weather forecast
  • Avoid hiking during rain as the stairs can be slippery

By preparing well, hikers can ensure a safer experience if legal access is ever granted.

The Hike: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Haiku Stairs, or Stairway to Heaven Oahu, offers a unique adventure with stunning views and a challenging ascent. The trail starts in the lush foothills of the Koolau mountain range and features steep, narrow steps.

a stairway leading to the top of a mountain
The Hawaiian Stairway To Heaven Trail

Key Landmarks:

  • Initial set of stairs leading to switchbacks
  • Middle section with steeper steps and lookout points
  • Final set of stairs before reaching the summit

Safety Tips:

  • Pace yourself and be mindful of your footing
  • Use handrails for support
  • Hike with a buddy and inform someone of your plans
  • Be prepared for sudden weather changes

At the summit, hikers are rewarded with unparalleled views of Oahu.

What to Expect at the Summit

Reaching the summit of the Haiku Stairs, or Stairway to Heaven Oahu, offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Oahu. The summit also features remnants of a World War II-era radio station, adding historical intrigue.

Summit Experience:

  • Take in the panoramic views of the Koolau Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean
  • Reflect on the journey and enjoy the sense of accomplishment
  • Capture photos during early morning or late afternoon for the best lighting

Proper preparation ensures that reaching the summit is a rewarding experience.

a long metal stair way going up a mountain
Stairway To Heaven Hawaii Hike

Alternatives and Legal Routes

The Haiku Stairs, or Stairway to Heaven Oahu, is currently closed, but there are legal alternatives. Fortunately, these options offer equally stunning views and memorable experiences.


  • Moanalua Valley Trail: Leads to the same ridge as the Haiku Stairs. It offers lush greenery and stream crossings.
  • Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: A paved, family-friendly trail with panoramic views of Oahu’s southeastern coast.
  • Kuliouou Ridge Trail: A moderately challenging hike through forests and ridgelines, offering sweeping views of Oahu.

Each alternative offers unique views and experiences, ensuring adventurers can still enjoy Hawaii’s beauty legally. Moreover, these trails cater to different levels of hiking experience.


The Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven Oahu, embodies the allure of Hawaii’s natural wonders. This hike, renowned for its stunning views and challenging climb, is a memorable adventure. However, respecting local laws and preserving the trail is crucial. By hiking responsibly and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure the Haiku Stairs remain a treasure for future generations.

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