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Fate of Haiku Stairs on Oahu Hangs in Balance

Officially called the Haiku Stairs, the Stairway to Heaven is without a doubt one of the most popular hiking trails in Oahu. Although it is illegal to access the trail, it doesn’t stop thousands of hikers from around the world every year to wander into this awe-inspiring and truly amazing hiking experience. Peaking at an elevation of roughly 2,200 feet above sea level, the Stairway to Heaven is made up of 3,922 sets of stairs that ascend a ridge up from the Valley of Haiku.

Board Proposes Removal of Haiku Stairs

After decades of dealing with illegal trespassing and keeping up with costs of maintaining the trail, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply who owns and manages the land under and the area surrounding the trail has been working on a proposal to remove the trail entirely. As of right now, the board said to have spent about $250,000 every year to pay for security to deter hikers from entering the stairs. The removal of the entire stairs will cost roughly about $986,000, which they said it could be done by mid-2022.

Alternative Ideas for Ownership

However, the board is open to the alternative idea of transferring the ownership of the property to the City. But up until now, the City has not made any decisions or commitments for the transfer. Therefore, the removal of The Stairway to Heaven remains in the Board of Water Supply proposed action.

Vernon Ansdell, M.D., President of Friends of Haiku Stairs, said “We want people to be able to enjoy it, to be able to do it legally, and to experience the native plants that are up there, the spectacular views, the almost spiritual experience of climbing through the clouds and then at the same time be able to appreciate the history of Haiku Valley.” (KHON2, 2019)

Share Your Thoughts with the Committee

There is now an open writing comment for the public to make an environmental impact statement to be submitted to the Department of Planning and Permitting that will help decide the fate of the Stairway to Heaven Trail. The public comment period will be open until August 7th, 2019. You can submit your comment through this portal here.

You can also write, call, or email the following:

  • Mayor Kirk Caldwell
    mayor@honolulu.gov
    (808)768-4141
    Fax: (808)768-5552
  • City Council Chair
    Ikaika Anderson
    ianderson@honolulu.gov
    (808)768-5003
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Tim Sullivan

July 17, 2019

Instead of taking away the stairs because it costs too much to maintain them, and spending almost a million dollars to do so, why not secure them instead and charge hikers a fee to access the Stairway to Heaven? Everyone knows that millions of tourists come to the islands every year, if you repair the stairs ($250k) and charge each hiker a fee of, say $50 per person… if you have a million hikers throughout the year that climb the stairs, then in 5 years it would pay for itself.. and THATS a low estimate! Add in that you would have created a position for employment by staffing the “ticket booth” at the foot of the trail, and its a win/win situation

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