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Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs) on Oahu, Hawaii

How to get to Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii)

Update (9/2014): It’s been noted by some hikers that the stairs are guarded by the police 24/7 now with citations being given out to those coming down the stairs as well. Going up the stairs is currently not advised unless you hear 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.

Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs) on Oahu, Hawaii

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.

You will turn into this neighborhood (Google Maps)

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).

Do not block any of the residents when you park (Google Maps)

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.

Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs) on Oahu, Hawaii

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

About Marvin

Endurance hiker and our resident daredevil with a heart of gold. Extreme chocolate raisin eater and master of sensory dominance.

31 comments

    • Thanks for the tip, hater. Remember, as stated in the first paragraph, “the Stairway to Heaven trail is off limits and it is illegal to trespass. This post does not encourage people to break any laws.”

      Also, it’s not necessarily illegal to tell someone how to steal a hot dog from a hot dog stand. Now, if said person decides to go ahead and steal that hot dog then they are the one responsible for stealing said hot dog and will assume responsibility – not the person that told them how to steal said hot dog.

      Also, we like to use real names here and not pseudonyms. Thanks!

  1. why post directions to something that will get someone in trouble? out of all the directions to haiku stairs this is the most detailed. its posts like this that ruins the future of the existence of the stairs. it gives the stairs more exposure and more hiker traffic. you never know, but thanks to this post, they’ll disassemble the stairs altogether in the future. aloha.

    • It’s posts like this that help people enjoy the stairs and access them without wandering aimlessly around and bothering the residents. No one has ever been cited or arrested for hiking the stairs. Hater, if you can prove me wrong, please do so, but I guarantee it won’t happen, so stop trying to scare people and stop making false accusations. Be thankful for posts such as these. In my opinion, the stairs will never be torn down. It’s just not gonna happen. If the state were to tear them down, they would just be asking for more trouble because people like me would still climb that ridge as a challenge, making it even more dangerous and the state realizes this. Everyone reading this, please do your research, be respectful to the residents, go early enough to where the guards aren’t there and do your best not to be noticed and everything else will be okay and the stairs can still be enjoyed by all of us. The residents have become exceptionally accomodating over the past few years, due to less traffic and people being more respectful. Let’s keep it this way by being quiet and acting properly upon entering this “illegal” site.

      • People have been issued citations for trespassing at the Haiku Stairs a simple Google- search will validate that. There are still some militant residents in Haiku who would like nothing more than to see them torn down and every time someone gets pulled off the stairs by the fire department, some asshat or group of asshats angers the residents, or any other attention is brought to them, the risk of the stairs being removed increases. I don’t agree with publicly posting directions to a closed trail because I don’t want to encourage or increase traffic on it which in turn will only cause more problems. Posting a step by step guide for getting to the Stairway seems like a bad idea but this isn’t my blog and that’s just my opinion.

        • XJ, could you please post a link of someone gettting cited at the stairs for me. I did a google search and found nothing. I’m just curious to see otherwise and would not mind to be proved wrong. I can private message you with proof that noone has been cited there if you would like me to though. I just believe that as long as the guards get there as early as they do, no matter how many instructions on how to get to the stairs are on the internet, the amount of people hiking the stairs will remain very low. Not to many people are willing to wake up that early and all the b.s. stories out there keep others away, which is a plus for those who do venture up the stairs. On most mornings there are very few people on the stairs. Look back a year or two when they got there at 6am and how many people use to go up. The state has done the right thing imo. The important thing here is to stress the importance of being quiet and respectful while entering and leaving the residential areas. Put yourself in their shoes. Just be quiet until you are on the trail and be quiet when exiting and the residents are usually pretty nice from my experiences.

          • Wow I read the articles XJ. All they tell me is that the city spent almost a million dollars to repair the stairs and there is trouble opening it because area residents are complaining. Now instead of spending some money on parking for any hikers they spend 50k a year on guards and people will continue to sneak onto the trail anyways. Sounds like if they work on some suitable parking the residents wouldn’t complain. and the citations were a joke, three citations in three years.

    • Hater,

      It’s ppl like you who think you OWN the land when in fact you do not. This area is off limits only because of the “CRIES” of the local ppl that think they own the stairs…. Fact, they were built for the coast guard and then turned over ownership. The city would love to open this trail but since ppl whine and cry about noise etc we cannot access this area. It has nothing to do safety but the parking and noise of traffic. I am sure that the HIGH majority of ppl going here are respectful and courteous while a small minority are not. These stairs WILL NOT be dismantled because of the cost of removal. Your name says it all. Stop hatin and your ignorance of hate is so futile. The locals are so full of hate and disrespect. Most of the ppl today aren’t even true NATIVE> Most of you are from other asian decent and even the original ppl came from other islands and populated the Hawaiian Islands. You should also read and know your own history as to how violent your so called unity of the islands were. We didn’t kill tens of thousands of locals when we came here like your king did in the battles of the islands when he decided to unite them…He also used weapons possessed from Europe to over throw the other islands kings and tribes….. Thanks Coty for posting the route. I will use the directions often and to hater….maybe you should find Jesus and stop your hatin….. it’s just ugly… and if we tourists aren’t good stewards of this land then why is it that there is so much litter on the beaches here??? Like fishing line, over flowing trash cans at beach sites???? I know for a fact that this is from the local population. I live in Kailua and see the locals trash the beaches after their big fishing trips and leave tons of fishing line, hooks and so on in the ocean. I dive all the time to clean the reefs after you ppl come in trash the area and then leave….maybe we should ban fishing in these area’s since you can’t manage the land… Take a drive along Kapaa’ Quarry Road……I never see tourists throwing out trash and mattresses along the road side…..

  2. February 12th 2012, Sunday we arrived at the gate for this hike at 3:45am. By a series of wrong turns in the dark, it took us almost an hour to arrive at the actual trailhead. At 4:38 the guard was already there and turned us away. Who knows when he got there but he complained to us that he gets there “too early”. He told us the trail was closed and explained to us the situation and we thanked him. We contemplated sneaking past the guard tower, but it was still more than two hours until sunrise and we knew if we used our headlamps he would see us, aside from the fact that it would be very wet, steep and muddy seeking stairs in the dark.

    We met some other hikers who were coming down the trail as we were getting turned away. They had started at some other trailhead at 5pm the evening before and were just getting down.

    *** We got a little confused with the “left, right, left at the fork” business. The way we came back from the trailhead seemed easier, but honestly, in the dark, who knows. From the entrance #1 as listed above, I would take the main road then turn left on a fairly well-worn bamboo trail after about 1/5 of a mile then turn right on the next road.

    We will definitely try again soon (perhaps just skip the early waking up and start at midnight) and good luck to future hikers.

    • I think the trail you mention is the one mentioned in the post. On the paved road, after you have made a Left and Right, you have a left to make into some vegetated areas. From here, you have a trail leading you to the road with the guard post. But there are multiple ways to get there so I might be wrong. The route posted isn’t the shortest, but may be easier in the dark for first timers as you are on paved road most of the time.

  3. We returned to try this hike again yesterday after being thwarted by the guard last week (see my post above). After learning the correct spot to cut through the bamboo (N21 24.476 W157 49.394) we arrived at the trailhead at 6:00 PM, yes PM. there was no guard and it was still perfectly light out. We made it up and down (and found the geocache at the top) in less than two hours. It was dark coming down, so we used our headlamps. We also made use of a second layer of clothing as it was quite windy and misty at the top. Other than that, we didn’t need gloves, or any provisions as many posts on other sites recommend. It was not nearly as hard as some sites suggest. But totally worth it for the views and experience. I wholeheartedly suggest going in the afternoon or evening to not wake up ridiculously early and chance running into the guard. Thanks for the great article; it was very helpful.

  4. Thanks so much for these directions. They worked great. Unfortunately, I was turned away at 3:55am so next time I’m just gonna go at 2:30 so I have nothing to worry about. Thanks again!

  5. My son and I would like to do this and I went to check out the entrance to be sure I knew how to get there, etc. and was surprised to not find a guard at the bottom of the stairs at 2pm. Is the only reason people go up so early for the sunrise or is it to thwart the guards? Honestly, I’d rather go up later in the day and do it all during daylight hours. What time does the guard leave? Am I missing an obvious reason why this is a bad idea? Hypothetically, of course!

  6. Thanks for the directions:)got there and had a blast. Security officer did not let us in, but left at noon so we could go up afterwards. This info saved us a lot of time getting lost, as it seems most of the other hikers encountered. Thanks again
    Texas.

  7. I really think you should revise your directions to Haiku Stairs since the trail you posted has people walking pass the school that is now operational during normal school hours. I don’t know how much of this is true but one poster on the Haiku Stairs page on Facebook has been telling everyone that a lockdown has happened with the school due to hikers being seen walking by it. The preferred route is the bamboo forest trail which is located less than 5 minutes passed the gate on Makena St. The route is shorter and doesn’t go beyond the school.

  8. Hit the trail yesterday, May 4th 2014 at 4;00 pm Guard was gone. There were a lot of other hikers on the trail, I was surprised. I kept asking people how they got on the trail with the guard? Apparently there are other side trails hiking around the guard station through the bushes…I was really surprised with the number of people on the trail. I have lived in Hawaii all my life and always wanted to hike this trail, it is sad that it is not open to the public. 1 or 2 loose stairs but really sturdy the entire way. We walked through the 1st suggested route from Kuneki St. and Makena St – We did walk past the school and was a little worried, it was a saturday so no one was around but I would recommend the other entrance, it seemed more direct. Finished the last few steps in the dark but had our headlamps for that. Thanks for the details on this blog. People are finding a way to hike this trail, regardless if there is a guard there. Kind of pointless if you ask me. Be quite and respectful in the neighborhood while parking and don’t leave your trash… there was not much but I did pick up a beer bottle, soda can and some candy wrappers on the trail, not cool.

  9. Just looking for some people who have done the trail more recently or have done it in November. I will be heading over then, and would love to do this if the conditions are right. Sounds like morning may be the best for the views, but the afternoon will be the easiest to find/avoid the guard. PS thanks for all the info on this. :)

  10. Thanks for the directions. I plan to go there late November. Is there anyone who has hiked this recently or is heading out there after thanksgiving?

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