Saturday, September 4, 2010

Haiku Stairs - Stairway to Heaven

About the Hike: The Haiku Stairs (also known as Stairway to Heaven) are incredible.  Unfortunately, they are also closed.  There are many fences, no trespassing signs, and even a posted guard to ensure that you do not hike them.  Don't let this discourage you though, if you really want to hike them, you just have to get creative.  :)  This hike is suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike.  You can climb as far as you want before turning around and you can almost immediately appreciate the views.  Warning: if you are terrified of heights, this may be a challenge for you.  Wear shoes with good traction and bring lots of water.  Go early to avoid the guard/heat.  (Keep reading for more information about the guard.)  The first lookout takes about 30 minutes to reach and on most days is one of the best places to view the island.  The clouds can be thick further up and it becomes a misty land of fog and rain.  So be sure to rest and take plenty of pictures at the first lookout if you plan to continue on.  I have read that there are 3922 steps, so come prepared to climb.

Where: Located in Kaneohe off the Kahekili Highway.  Nestled into the Ko'olau mountain range and below the H-3.

Directions: This is where things get a little tricky...  Take the Likelike from town to the Kahekili Highway, go left off the Likelike.  Turn left at Haiku Road and continue around the curve, then go right at Kuneki Street.  Follow Kuneki St. all the way to the end of the road.  It will dead end and on the left hand side you will see the sign for Haiku Stairs and a large fence that also says "No Trespassing."  Park along the road, maybe a block away and do not block driveways, mailboxes, or trash pickup areas.  The neighbors may not be too friendly, so be quiet and try not to disrupt the area.  (It is important that you park legally so you will not be towed).  From here you have to hike/go through the fence.  Then continue along the paved road, looking to the left for a small trail.  It is easy to miss, so make sure you are paying attention.  Follow this trail through bamboo, it can get kind of tricky because there are multiple trails, but from here just try to head towards the mountains.  You will go through a fence, then along another trail through another fence.  And then finally through the last fence where you will find a roadway.  Go right on the road until you see the stairs on the left.

Notes: To avoid the guard, some say you must go  very early.  We are talking 4:30/5:00 am early.  I went at 4:30 and had no problems, but be sure to bring flashlights, it is really dark.  I don't know when the guard starts, but if you run into a guard before you begin you will be turned around.  On the trip down, rumor has it that you will be allowed to pass.  There are a few different ways to reach the bottom of the stairs, I find that this way is the easiest.  (You are more than welcome to hop fences, follow a drainage canal, climb over barbed wire, etc.)  Please be respectful of the residents of this area, they are so disgruntled with the hikers that they want to tear down the bottom portion of the hike.  (What???)  So remember, go early, bring a flashlight, water, and a camera!  Oh, and have fun...


Going through or around the first fence.


The trail to look for on your left.


The last fence to go through.


The shack on the side of the fence.


The sign at the bottom of the trailhead.  "Closed"


The multiple fences blocking the trailhead.  You must go around them to reach the trailhead, but they don't extend much beyond what you can see here...


I will post more photos of the actual climb soon.  I just wanted to post how we found it and some of the challenges that we encountered!  Good luck and again: be respectful.  It is an amazing climb and a rewarding trek.

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