Update (9/2014): It’s been noted by some hikers that the stairs are guarded throughout most of the day now and citations are being given out to those coming down the stairs as well. Calls to the police are also more common from residents when hikers are seen exiting into the neighborhood. Going up the stairs is currently not advised unless you are aware of updated information. If you would like to simply reach the top of the stairs, consider going up (and back down) the Moanalua Middle ridge.
This post does not encourage people to break any laws. But, we know many people attempt to reach the stairs every day and this post attempts to increase safety for those attempting the steps and also to discourage additional illegal activities.
Update (2/2015): The lower sections of the stairs were recently heavily damaged from a landslide. Access through this section may be difficult until the damage is cleared.
The main reason the Stairways are closed is because of the neighborhood disturbance created by hikers. The complaints from residents have left the trail closed. This guide will show you how to reach the stairs from the bottom of the steps, review the Moanalua Middle ridge, Bowman to Stairways, and Moanalua Saddle to Haiku Stairs posts for alternate routes to the top of the stairway.
Directions (from downtown Honolulu via Google Maps):
First, you need to drive to Haiku Village in Kaneohe.
- Take the Interstate H-1 W/Lunalilo Fwy ramp to HI-61 N/Pali Hwy. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Interstate H1 W and merge onto I-H-1 W/Lunalilo Fwy. Take exit 20A to merge onto HI-63 N/Kalihi St toward Likelike. Hwy Continue to follow HI-63 N. Take the HI-83/Kahekili Hwy ramp. Merge onto HI-83 W (signs for Kahekilli Hwy). Turn left onto Kahuhipa St.
Once at Haiku Village, drive towards the back of the neighborhood. Drive to Kuneki Pl. to find an excellent parking spot. Remember, do not park in front of a driveway or in front of someone’s mailbox. Not only will you not upset the residents, you will decrease your chance of getting your vehicle towed and perhaps even broken into. From this parking spot, you will be closer to entrance #2 (see map below), but approach entrance 1 for an easier to follow route.
Walk to the corner of Kuneki St. and Makena St., here, you will find a gate stating the stairways are closed. To get to the stairways from this point, go around the gate from the right side and continue on the concrete road. You will eventually find your first fork on the road, make a left here. Continue until you see a second fork on the path, make a right this time. While continuing on the concrete path, keep a lookout on your left side for an opening in the grassy area. You will find a clear path that can follow. Start walking on this short trail through some bamboos and tall trees until you arrive at another paved road. From the trail you were on, go left on the road. Follow the road until you see an erected blue tarp. This is where the security guard usually stays while on duty. From the tarp, make a right into the jungle while walking towards the H-3 freeway above you. You will soon find another gate that you will have to contour from the left side to reach the stairs. You can now continue up the 3,922 steps of Stairway to Heaven! Remember: left, right, left, blue tarp.
If you find a 3rd fork on the concrete road, you have gone too far and will need to return. If you do continue going on this wrong path, you will find one of the Dharma stations from Lost (small green building).
Alternatively, if you decide to use entrance 2, you will be walking through a dry canal to reach the stairs. In the canal, past the sign to not approach the stairs, continue to the end of the canal until you are in an open field. Keep walking in a straight line in this area until you find a fence. At the fence, look for spots that you can easily crawl under. On the other side, continue walking in a relatively straight line towards under the highway. You will eventually find a paved road. Go right on the paved road for about 10 minutes until you find a blue tarp. Go left from here to enter the stairway to heaven trail. If you ever get lost on your way to the stairs while on either path, head towards the sound of the cars on the freeway.
As of this writing (8/30/2011), it has been noted that the security guard arrives at 4 AM everyday. Plan accordingly if you decide to start the trail before the security guard arrives. You may be fined if the security guard catches you near the trail head, although fines have been very rare so far. Do not create any conflicts with the guard. He does not carry any weapons and is only there to direct people away from the stairs.
Be sure to bring a well lit and fully charged flashlight as you will be walking in complete darkness once you pass the neighborhood and the gates. Entrance 2 may be more straightforward overall but you risk waking up dogs that will continually bark while you are near. You will spend most of your time within the clouds at stairway to heaven and bringing a light jacket may be helpful. Most importantly, respect the neighborhood and the trail (do not leave garbage in the building at the top of the stairs). Bring your camera, you will get some of the best views on the island on stairway to heaven! Also be prepared for an intense walkout. The stairs are more like a ladder at certain points and will tax your legs. Although personally, I found the Koko Crater stairs more difficult as those steps get steeper as you get closer to the end.
Pictures taken by Marvin Chandra