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Haiku Valley and H3 Freeway, as seen from the Haiku Stairs.

Haiku Valley and H3 FreewayView All Sizes

The entrance to the Haiku Stairs on Kuneki Place.

Entrance via Kuneki PlaceView All Sizes

This trail connects the cement canal to the H3 access road.

Trail through the JungleView All Sizes

JOURNAL : July 1, 2010

Hiking up the 3,922 Haiku Stairs

Kaneohe > Hawaii > United States

Series Hiking up the 3,922 Haiku Stairs
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Today we trudged up the 3,922 steps of the Haiku Stairs.

Due to security patrolling the trailhead, it was imperative to be on the Haiku Steps (a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven) by 6 am. I left Mokuleia at 4:30 am and met up with my sister Robin, her boyfriend Bryan and his two friends Steve and Danny at the Haiku Valley Haleiwa Joe's. From there we took their car and parked closer to the entrance on Kuneki Place.

Please be quiet in this area since there is much community opposition to public access to the Stairs. Park at least a few blocks away from Kuneki Place.

A group photo (except me of course) as we descended the Haiku Stairs.

Group Photo on the StairsView All Sizes

Haiku Stairs Closed?

On Kuneki Place final a cement canal that leads towards the mountains. A sign on the chain-link fence over the canal warns that the Haiku Stairs are closed and that trespassers will be prosecuted. Proceed at your own risk.

See the map below for the exact trail.

Haiku Stairs Trail

Way up on the Haiku Stairs is this hoist house.

The Hoist HouseView All Sizes

The H3 Freeway Tunnels as seen from the Haiku Stairs.

H3 Tunnels

How to Get There

We slipped around the fence and quietly made our way up the canal until it ends at a trail through the jungle. At another chain-link fence, we took a left and trekked up a short hill and emerged onto the H3 Freeway access road, directly under the towering freeway supports. Take a right on this access road and follow it until the trailhead opens up on the left. If you encounter a security guard, you've come too late... Apparently they can arrive as early as 6:30 am. Try another day.

Kaneohe and Mokapu Peninsula from the Haiku Stairs.

Kaneohe and Mokapu PeninsulaView All Sizes

After a series of dirt steps, the Haiku Stairs starts for real now. This is a great time to do some serious stretching. Calves, hamstrings, quads, et al. Since it's a steep climb along linked metal steps with handrails, pulling with your arms will help reduce the load on your feet.

Heed this well. I am a pretty healthy, athletic guy who works out regularly. But after powering up the Haiku Stairs without stretching adequately, my calves were sore for a week.

The first platform of the Haiku Stairs.

The First PlatformView All Sizes

What Condition My Condition Was In

I had been up since noon the previous day so I chugged a 5-hour energy drink chock full of B vitamins and caffeine. From the access road our group cruised to the summit at 2,820 feet in about 2 hours.

Descending the Haiku Stairs

Steep Descent...View All Sizes

Trail Features

Along the way are several sturdy platforms and a dilapidated hoist house for the the tram and hoist built in the 1940s to haul equipment and personnel up to the Navy's Communications Control Link (CCL) station at the summit of Puu Keahiakahoe. The conditions are wet and slippery and the cliffs often drop off thousands of feet on each side. In several sections the stairs actually climb straight up! Please be careful.

The CCL Building at the Summit

The CCL Station at the SummitView All Sizes

The Return Trip

Going up was a tedious slog through a pervasive soaking mist and a furious wind that drove the rain back up against the cliffs and across our path. We were drenched within the first half hour.

As we descended the rain began to dissipate and the trade winds were now blowing the clouds away to reveal stunning views of Kaneohe and Kailua. Had we stayed a few more hours the weather might have cleared up to afford breathtaking views of the entire southwest chunk of Oahu.

Other Exciting Hikes on Oahu

Hikes in Hawaii are usually along ridgelines, up switchback trails or through valleys. Hiking the Haiku Stairs was very similar to scaling Mt. Ka'ala or Olomana.

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