The Haiku Stair Way To Heaven hike is probably the most famous and incredible hike on Hawaii. People from all over the world come to Oahu to make this happen. I finally did the hike on September 17th with a friend and his two Canadian friends who were visiting. Here is my story.
The debate of which point of entry we were going to take was pretty short: take the legal route. We didn’t think that the potential fine of $1000 was worth it, so the legal route we went.
We met at Moanalua Valley Trail (Kulana’ahane) parking lot at about 8:45am. Parking wasn’t too bad, the lot is a fairly good size but you can also park on the street leading up to the parking lot. We set off on the adventure at 9am. Knowing this hike would be about 6 hours, I brought about 1.5L of water, sunscreen, quite a few snacks, a battery pack for the phone, and good hiking shoes. I would recommend bringing a lunch, gloves and possibly spikes for your shoes. To also prepare for an emergency also bring a first aid kit, a rain jacket and flashlight. Phone reception is pretty poor in the valley before you head up the ridge – just be aware of this.
As we hiked up the valley, the sky was clear, very few clouds showed any concerning threat of rain. It was a great day to make this trip. We started hiking up the valley floor, crossed over a number of small streams, then started climbing the ridge. The views already were simply beautiful.
The ridge hike did get more and more steep as we were getting to the top. Several areas had ropes to help ascend and descend some pretty tough spots on the ridge.
We were glad to utilize the ropes in these tough spots. Several times during this hike, I did realize that if we encountered any rain, it would have made this hike quite a bit more difficult. Ideally you want to do this hike when it hasn’t rained in a short while and at least when it isn’t raining.
As we were nearing the top of the ridge, we can see the old radar site and Kaneohe Bay to our left. No matter which direction we were in, the views simply didn’t disappoint. At this point we did see some clouds going over us and did see some darker clouds coming towards us.
We get to the radar site and saw the top of the stairs for the first time: simply wild!
To think that this Navel radar site was active from 1943 to the early 1950s. The original wooden stairs were replaced with metal steps shortly after the US Coast Guard took the site over. The site was closed to the public in 1987¹.
We took a pretty long break checking out the views from all sides and walked down to the small building (one of the few structures still remaining). Pretty cool to see an old engine and hoist system rusting away.
It was just after 12:30pm as we headed back down to the valley, I was pretty certain we were going to encounter some rain. The darker clouds moved in, winds picked up but luckily we didn’t get any rain.
The clouds were beautiful to see moving above us and in the distance. The decent was certainly a slower pace than it was ascending. The ropes were once again very helpful and I did realize that gloves would have also been a good help.
Once we were past some of the toughest areas, the hike down wasn’t too bad. One issue I was dealing with at this point was being pretty hungry. I packed quite a few snacks and a good amount of water but it really wasn’t enough. Defiantly plan this out better.
We got the trail head around 3:30pm, so the hike was about 6.5hours and just over 10miles round trip. The hike time does vary depending on your pace. The elevation was 2585ft. This hike was pretty tough but it’s one amazing hike you’ll talk about for years to come! Happy hiking.