Haiku Stairs or Haiku Ladder is located in Kaneohe and is also known as “Stairway to Heaven” because most of the tops of the hike are covered in clouds. The stairmaster of a hike has 3,922 steps, most of them over 45 degree slope and some near vertical.
The trail begain in 1943, when the US Navy spiked wooden ladders to the cliff to provide access to the top of the peak named Pu’ukeahiakahoe at 2,720 feet. During the 1950′s, it was replaced with metal steps to better handle the area’s constant rainy weather. The stairs were featured in the TV show “Magnum PI” in 1981, which led to an explosion of interest and hikers. In 1987, after vandals and wear and tear destroyed sections of the steps, the stairs was officially closed to the public. Yet in 2002, the State spent a reported $875,000 to renovate the steps to avoid liability as people continued to hike the stairs. Also there was a glimmer of hope that the trail would be eventually re-opened to the public. Legal issues have squashed that hope for now. The State pays Wackenhut Security to have a guard there daily from approximately 6am to 6pm.
If you attempt this hike, keep in mind, that this hike is officially closed. Proceed at your own risk! If you see the guard at the trailhead, hike over. Most hikers start before the crack of dawn to ensure they make it to the trailhead before the guard arrives. The guard will turn you away, but will not do anything if you are already coming down (as of this post).
The metal stairs is quite narrow, as it only allows room for one-way traffic. Hikers coming down have the right of way and climbing hikers should step over the railings to make way. Sometimes it gets a bit tricky, as the sides are barely more than a foothold at some places.
You can see the H3 freeway below you as it snakes through Kaneohe and disappears into the Koolau Mountains. Don’t wave at the toy cars below you, as previous friendly gestures have been mistaken as distress signals. Now that would be totally embarassing!
Saw this amazing triple circle rainbow from the first platform. Being that this hike is located in Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu, be prepared to get liberally doused with morning showers. It would be a good idea to bring gloves as the railings do get slippery.
There are five platforms or lookouts along the trail. These platforms used to have A-frames supports for the antenna that used to be strung across the valley. Good time to take in the awesome scenic views and drink lots of water.
More and more stairs. If you think this is hard, imagine the two “high-scalers”, Bill Adams and Louis Otto, that were the trailblazers that forged this trail back in 1942, when there was nothing but how Mother Nature made it. Now that was hard!
Some hikers have left inspiring messages on the handrails to keep you motivated to reach the top
You can see from Kaneohe to Kaawa, and if you look real hard, you can also see Mokolii Island or Chinaman’s hat.
You can see Kaneohe bay and Mokapu Peninsula, home to a Marine base, that partly encloses the southern end.
You can see the three peaks of Mount Olomana and Kailua.
Leaving the hoist house behind, it still has the old winch and cable that was used to haul the antenna equipment and personnel up the mountains.
At the top of the peak is the Communications Control Link. The view from the top was completely covered in clouds, sometimes the best view is going to the top and not necessarily from the top. The building’s roof is still intact, as it was offering shelter to some hikers who were drying out as they got drenched in one of the area’s frequent showers.
Kaneohe, HI 96744
Open: Closed (Officially)
Directions (for informational purposes only)
I heard there are several ways to get to the trailhead, this is one of them. At the end of Kuneki Street, climb either through the fence or around the fence to the right (watch out for the barbed wire). Walk along the road until you see a well-worn trail on your left, this will take you through a bamboo forest. You will come into a clearing and head towards the right to go back into another bamboo forest. This will take you to a hole in the chain link fence. Go right on the road and you will see the guard’s tent on the right, which is directly in front of the trailhead to your left.