Haiku Stairs of Hawaii: The Stairway to Heaven

Dec 28, 2013 2 comments

The Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven, is a series of approximately 4,000 concrete steps that climbs 2800 feet from the Valley of Haiku to the cloud-covered peak of Pu'u Keahi A Kahoe, in Hawaii. The steps were originally made of wood and were installed in 1942 so that the U.S. military could string antenna cables from one side of the cliffs to the other for low frequency radio communication. They were later replaced by concrete in the 1950s after the Naval base was decommissioned and the United States Coast Guard took over the site for their Omega Navigation System.

The station and the trail were closed to the public in 1987. Hiking is illegal, yet hundreds of daring hikers ignore the “No Trespassing” signs and start early morning to avoid guards stationed at the base in order to walk along the mountain ridge.


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“Haiku Stairs isn’t the most difficult hike on the island, but the amazing views and the sheer drop offs on either side of the ridge make it one of the most memorable”, said David Chatsuthiphan to UnrealHawaii.com.

At the top of the peak, one can still see the antennas that transmitted 200,000-watt radio signals that could communicate with submarines as far away as Tokyo Bay while the submarines were submerged. The signals could be picked up even in India, 10,600 km away.

The local people have been pressuring the government to open the stairs to the public, but the government says it would be cost prohibitive to keep the stairs in safe condition.

Update: Fed up of keeping illegal hikers away from the rickety structure (the city spends a quarter of a million dollars a year for 24-hour security to hikers from accessing the stairs), the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, which owns and manages most of the land under and surrounding the stairs proposed removing the stairs entirely. Although it would cost the board nearly a million dollars to dismantle the structure safely, it could save them potentially millions more in litigation if someone has an accident and decides to hold the board responsible.


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