Trespassing hiker requires rescue after dog falls from illegal Hawaii hiking spot

The Haiku Stairs in Honolulu with almost 4000 steps to offer views of the islands
The hiker and her dog were flown off the trail, which has been closed to hikers since 1987 (Image credit: Majicphotos)

A woman and her dog required helicopter rescue in Hawaii this week after the dog fell 50 feet while the pair were illegally hiking on a closed trail.

Local news outlets report that the hiker and her 55-pound dog were ascending the popular Haiku Stairs, a steep climb of almost 4,000 steps that wind through Oahu's 2,800ft tall Ko’olau mountain when the dog fell.

According to NBC news, the woman then descended off the trail to reach the dog and alerted emergency services. Honolulu Fire Department received the alert at 5:30 p.m. and initiated a search on the ground and from the air.

Crews spotted the pair near a waterfall and airlifted them to safety about an hour after receiving the call, reporting no major injuries to either party.

The trail, popularly known as the "Stairway to Heaven" hike, was originally constructed during the second World War by the US Navy as a means to access secret communications facilities and was opened to the public for hiking after the war. Known for delivering one of the best views in Hawaii, it started to become crowded and subject to vandalism, reportedly following a cameo in hit ’80s TV show Magnum, PI, and was subsequently closed to the public in 1987. 

In 2021, the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to remove the stairs permanently, ending over 30 years of illegal hiking in the beauty spot, however the move has so far done little to quell the trail's popularity with hikers.

Hikers are reminded to obey trail closures and understand the risks of hiking with a dog – do your research on your trail, respect your surroundings and know your dog's limits. 

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for 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.