Chatsuthiphan haiku stairs x
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The haiku stairs oahu stairway to heaven


The Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway To Heaven or Haiku Ladder.  It is a steep steel step structure that gave pedestrian access to U.S. Navy communications facilities on Oahu in Hawaii.

The more than 3,000 steps run along Oahu’s Ko’olau mountain ranges. Although the pathway was used for hiking at different times, it is now closed to the public. In 2021, the city council decided to take down the stairs.

Early history

The U.S. Navy started construction on the Haiku Radio Station in 1942. This top-secret facility was to transmit radio signals to Navy ships operating in the Pacific. You may still see some remnants of the wooden ladder beside the metal steps.

In 1943, the radio station was officially commissioned. The Navy required a transmitter capable of transmitting such a strong signal.

The haiku stairs oahu stairway to heaven navy transmitter
The haiku stairs, oahu – stairway to heaven – navy transmitter

The haiku stairs oahu stairway to heaven

The Navy chose an Alexanderson alternator, a massive device that can generate powerful low-frequency radio signals and requires a large antenna.

A higher level of visitorship. The U.S. Coast Guard used this site to establish an Omega Navigation System station when the Naval base was closed in the 1950s. The wooden steps were replaced with metal sections and ramps in the middle of the 1950s.

The haiku stairs oahu stairway to heaven

This was a count of 3,922 steps. In the 1970s, the Coast Guard allowed access. Still, it was stopped after an appearance on Magnum P.I. show increased visitation. In 1987, the station and trail were shut down to the public.

21st Century

The city spent $875,000 to repair the stairs in 2003, with plans to open them up to the public. As there is no public access, residents living nearby have been subject to trespassing on their properties and littering.

Six people were arrested in 2014 for climbing the stairs. 135 others were cited. According to the City Prosecutors Office, criminal trespass in the second degree is punishable by a $1000 fine. The City and County of Honolulu stated in early 2018 that the stairs were not being opened for public use due to liability concerns.

Hikers ignored the signs saying “no trespassing”. They continued climbing, which contributed to the community’s concerns about the possibility of reopening this structure. Over the years, many injuries have been sustained on the stairs.

The haiku stairs oahu stairway to heaven
View of highway from the haiku stairs, oahu – stairway to heaven

The Board of Water Supply published a final environmental impact report in 2020 that evaluated alternative options. Through small-group meetings and public meetings, comments were collected from various agencies, landowners and community organizations, and individuals.

The cost of removing the stairs could be as high as $1 million. On April 27, 2020, the board unanimously voted to transfer the Haiku Stairs to the city. The stairs were a liability and did not align with the agency’s mission. Or the stairs would be demolished, the city had only 18 months to assume control.

The city planned to make the trail a paid attraction. On July 1, 2020, the city acquired possession. The City Manager was asked to remove the Haiku Stairs after considering the significant liability and maintenance cost for the city and the impact on the quality of life for residents nearby.

This was done by a non-binding Resolution 21154 that was unanimously adopted by the council in September 2021. Friends of Haiku Stairs is a volunteer group that aims to preserve the trail. They have a plan for safe public access and trespassing that they can use at no cost to taxpayers.

Why is the stairway to heaven in Hawaii illegal?

During World War II, the Stairway to Heaven, also known as the Haiku Stairs, was constructed to allow soldiers access to the radio antenna at the top. Some stairs were damaged by a storm in 2015. The stairway was not repaired. It was instead fenced off. It was deemed dangerous and unfit for use.

The haiku stairs oahu stairway to heaven

How can I legally climb the Stairway to Heaven?

Long answer: This is the Kaulana’ahane Trail. It is a 4-hour hike. Follow the Kamanaui Valley Road Trail for 4km to the sign at the left that will direct you to the trail’s start.

Where is the stairway to heaven?


Hikers love the “Stairway To Heaven”, a popular hike and heavily photographed on Instagram. It’s the most famous hike in Hawaii: 3,922 steps to cross the Ko’olau Mountains in Oahu.

Further Reading


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