You’ve double tapped the pictures a million times on Instagram, and you are finally ready to hike the Haiku Stairs on Oahu. The actual hike up the stairs is technically illegal and can land you with a hefty fine ($600). The residents of the neighborhood where the hike starts do not like people trespassing through their property and will absolutely notify the authorities that you are there. Even if you go at night, there are a lot of dogs that will bark as you try and climb the barbed wire fence, or squeeze through a crack in the gate. The bottom of the stairs are guarded 24 hours a day, trying to prevent people just like you.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could experience this without the risk of a fine or bothering the locals? There are a couple hikes that will get you there without the hassle and risk. The shortest way to access the stairs from the top is by hiking the Moanalua Middle Ridge. There are plenty of blogs highlighting this option as well as the Moanalua Saddle and the Tripler Ridge Trail, but none were very clear on where to park, where the trail begins, and what to expect along the way. The hike sounds intimidating and it really can be a bit daunting at times, but the views are gorgeous the entire way and the reward at the top is fantastic. Weather moves fast through the valley so expect some wind, and the trail may get muddy even on sunny days. There are several near vertical climbs along the way, but there are ropes to use for clambering up as well as descending. Gloves would be helpful, but are certainly optional. Crampons would also make the trek through mud easier. Below is the walkthrough and a PDF guide is available to download at the bottom of the article.
Start at Moanalua Valley Park. There is a parking lot you can use, or street parking if the lot is full. Use the park restrooms before starting. The hike is 6 miles one way. The first 3 miles (~45 min) is easy walking on a rocky road that leads you deep into the valley. This trail is not marked, the trail begins about 10 feet from the Kulana’Ahane trail. From the sign, walk ten feet further and look left. There is a small gap in the trees and you will see a path worn out. From here, you can’t get lost. You will start gaining altitude fairly quick and you stay on the ridge the entire way to the top. The only place you can go wrong is at the top. At the peak, you will come to a section where you can follow the ridge to the right or the left. Take a left and you will be able to see the abandoned radio tower that sits at the top of the Haiku Stairs.
You have the option to take the stairs down, but you run the risk of getting fined. I suggest down-climbing the stairs as far as you’d like in order to get the full experience before heading back up and leaving the same way especially if you have a car parked at the beginning.