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Hawaii removing 'Stairway to Heaven' because of unruly trespassers

The city and county unanimously passed a resolution to remove the stairs in 2021, citing complaints about the disturbances caused by hikers.
Hawaii removing 'Stairway to Heaven' because of unruly trespassers
Posted at 3:26 PM, Apr 17, 2024

One of Hawaii’s most dangerous and off-limits hikes will be permanently removed, the City and County of Honolulu announced last week. 

The Ha‘ikū Stairs, referred to as the Stairway to Heaven, is made up of nearly 4,000 treacherous, steel steps across the Koolau Mountain Range on the island of Oahu.

The city said the stairs were originally built by the U.S. military during World War II but have been closed to the public — and illegal to hike — since 1987. But that hasn’t stopped adrenaline-seekers from trespassing across private property to take in the famous hike. 

The city and county unanimously passed a resolution to remove the stairs in 2021, citing complaints about the regular disturbances from people who were trying to access the trail. 

Residents in Haiku Valley reported hikers blocking driveways and narrow roads with their parked cars, leaving trash on private property, using homeowners' water hoses to wash off or fill up drinking water, “relieving themselves” in the street and causing loud noises early in the morning as they set off to see the sunrise from the stairs. 

The resolution said calls to Honolulu police concerning the stairs have increased over the years, and one officer was assaulted by a trespassing hiker in 2021. 

Hikers have also been blamed for introducing an invasive species into the area surrounding the stairs. 

In the resolution, the city council said a “managed approach” would not be effective since the stairs have become a more popular attraction thanks to social media. 

The project to remove the stairs is expected to take six months and over $2 million. 

Contractors will work with a biologist to protect native species, prevent erosion and re-vegetate the area as each section of the stairs is removed, the city said.  

“This was a decision, when we came into office, that was long overdue. Over the course of many months, in meeting with the people involved and the discovery that we put into it, I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said during the announcement. “This decision that was made was predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our ʻāina, and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Haʻikū community.”

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