"It's not about you, don’t be selfish" – Honolulu mayor dismayed after hundreds flock to Haiku Stairs before removal

The Haiku Stairs in Honolulu with almost 4000 steps to offer views of the islands
Five people were arrested in a single day after trying to illegally hike the famous trail one more time before it's demolished (Image credit: Majicphotos)

In a surprise to absolutely no one, hundreds of hikers have descended on Honolulu's famous Haiku Stairs after it was announced earlier this month that they are being permanently removed.

The hiking trail – often referred to as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – provide what many consider to be the best view in Hawaii via a steep climb of almost 4,000 steps. However, it has been off-limits to the public since 1987 due to overcrowding and vandalism. As we've previously reported, illegal hiking has continued to be a problem, with hikers, tourists, Instagrammers and Youtubers risking the $1000 fine for trespassing on the land. Trespassing hikers have scaled fences and crossed people's backyards for access, sometimes leaving trash in their wake. 

Since it was announced that the stairs are being actively demolished last week, the problem has only gotten worse, despite the fact that the area is now an active construction zone. Honolulu Police Department has issued 60 warnings and eight citations for trespassing on the trail over the weekend alone, according to SF Gate. Five people were arrested on Tuesday alone.

“It’s not about you, and don’t be selfish. When you think about what you’re doing to the work people, the environment, tracking invasive species in, on top of putting the work people at risk and on top of putting yourself at risk,” says District Four Commander Major Randall Platt at a recent news conference

The World War 2 communication tower built by the US navy atop a mountain on Oahu with the ocean behind it

The trail has been off-limits to the public since 1987 due to overcrowding and vandalism (Image credit: SvetlanaSF)

The steps were originally constructed during the Second World War by the US Navy as a means to access secret communications facilities and were originally open to the public for hiking after the war.

Though no one has died attempting to scale the stairs, rescues have been a common and expensive problem. In September 2023, we reported on a woman and her dog who required helicopter rescue after the dog fell 50 feet while the pair were illegally hiking.

“This decision that was made was predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our aina (land), and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Haiku community," said Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi of the decision to remove the stairs, which will be a complex operation requiring a helicopter to remove the steps in sections.

As lovers of the outdoors, it's important to remember that respecting trail closures is a way to protect nature, set a good example to others and make sure that hiking remains something that we can all continue to enjoy in the future. Though you might have had your heart set on this particular hike, it is unsafe to attempt it, in addition to the strong possibility you will incur fines. 

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.