Stairway to Heaven – Hawaii’s Extremely Difficult Hike

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
October 03, 2011

So, my wife’s brother just came back from Hawaii with his sister and good friend (who lives in Hawaii). He was telling us all about his trip and his friend who is in crazy good shape. There were a bunch of great stories but my ears especially perked up when he mentioned this really intense hiking trail on the island of Ohau. It’s called Stairway to Heaven (also Haiku Stairs or Haiku Ladder). The trail is illegal to trek on because of liability issues so they didn’t end up doing it but I had to learn more about it because it seemed so intense.
Photo Credit:

Stairway to Heaven Hawaii Hike

Haiku Ladder History

The hiking trail actually started off as a wooden ladder on one side of Ha’iku Valley in 1943. The reason it was put up was because antenna cables needed to be set up to allow for communication between Wahiawa and Hai’ku Valley Navy Radio Station.

In 1950, the Naval base decommissioned the site.

Later in the 1950’s the old wooden stairs were replaced by metal steps…3,922 to be exact.

In the year 1987 the trail was closed but despite warnings to hikers it was still hiked.

In 2003, the Haiku Ladder was repaired at a cost to the city of $875,000. Yet the authorities state that there is no intent to reopen the trail to the public.


Haiku Ladder Quick Stats

Steps: 3,922

Trail Length: 2,120 feet

Time it takes to complete: 4-5 hours (Depending on athletic ability)

Location: Island of Ohau

Knee Health Score 1

Muscles to work before going- Calves- although I am sure it is a very intense workout for your entire lower body, since you are climbing up steps you will be using your calf muscles tremendously. So before you go on this trip make sure to do strengthen your calves with the following exercises:

Jumping Jacks

Jump Hops

Jumping Rope


Haiku Ladder Video Guide 1

Haiku Ladder Video Guide 2

Haiku Ladder Video Guide 3

Haiku Ladder Video Guide 4

My wife and I were inspired and set it as our 10 year anniversary goal to complete the hike. Hopefully, it will be open to the public by then. But if not, I am happy to try to sneak past the guard. The blogs I have read said that the guard gets there before 4:30 am so we’ll have to make it an early morning. Though I’m not sure what the cost is to provide this guard with a salary but I imagine long term it would be more economical to invest in the trail to make it safer thereby reducing liability issues.

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