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Popular Hawaii hiking trail slated for removal

The Haiku Stairs in Honolulu with almost 4000 steps to offer views of the islands
It is illegal to hike the Haiku Stairs in Honolulu although locals believe they offer the best views in all of Hawaii (Image credit: Majicphotos)

The Honolulu City Council has voted unanimously to remove the popular Haiku Stairs permanently, ending over 30 years of illegal hiking in the beauty spot.

The Haiku Stairs, often referred to as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, are a steep climb of almost 4,000 steps that wind through Oahu's 2,800ft tall Ko’olau mountain, providing what many consider to be the best view in Hawaii

The steps were originally constructed during the second World War by the US Navy as a means to access secret communications facilities and were opened to the public for hiking after the war. They started to become crowded and subject to vandalism, reportedly following a cameo in hit ’80s TV show Magnum, PI, and were subsequently closed to the public in 1987. 

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

The Haiku Stairs were constructed during the second World War to provide access to top secret communications facilities (Image credit: SvetlanaSF)

However, the Haiku Stairs have remained popular with hikers, tourists, Instagrammers and Youtubers seeking the illegal thrill of climbing into the clouds and breathtaking views despite the $1000 fine for trespassing on the land, which is owned by the Board of Water Supply.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi approved a $1 million plan to dismantle the stairs citing the inadequate resources of the residential neighborhood which houses the stairs as well as environmental concerns and public safety issues – there have been some 40 rescues made by the Honolulu Fire Department in the past ten years.

Should the plans go ahead, the stairs will be removed in 2022.

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.