Iconic Hawaiian Hiking Trail to Be Dismantled After Years of Illegal Access

Iconic "Stairway to Heaven" in Hawaii to be demolished due to safety and trespassing issues, highlighting challenges of balancing public access and environmental protection.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
Updated On
New Update
Iconic Hawaiian Hiking Trail to Be Dismantled After Years of Illegal Access

Iconic Hawaiian Hiking Trail to Be Dismantled After Years of Illegal Access

The Haiku Stairs, also known as the "Stairway to Heaven," a popular hiking trail on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, is set to be removed due to ongoing issues with trespassing and reckless behavior by tourists. The decision comes after years of debate and failed attempts to manage access to the site, which has been officially closed to the public since 1987.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply, which owns the land where the stairs are located, has determined that removal is the best course of action to address safety concerns and liability issues. The 3,922-step staircase, originally built during World War II to provide access to a naval radio station, has become a magnet for thrill-seeking hikers despite the closure and threat of fines.

Residents living near the trailhead have long complained about the influx of visitors, who often park illegally, make noise early in the morning, and leave behind trash. The dangerous conditions on the trail, which include steep drop-offs and deteriorating steps, have led to numerous injuries and costly rescue operations over the years.

Why this matters: The removal of the Haiku Stairs highlights the challenges of balancing public access to natural wonders with the need to protect the environment and ensure public safety. The story also highlights the effect of social media and tourism on sensitive sites, as the stairs have gained worldwide notoriety through online photos and videos.

Efforts to find a solution that would allow legal access while addressing safety and community concerns have been ongoing for decades. In 2020, the Honolulu City Council considered a proposal to transfer management of the stairs to the city's parks department, but the measure was finally rejected due to the high costs of restoration and maintenance.

The Board of Water Supply has allocated $1 million for the removal project, which is expected to begin later this year and take several months to complete. The agency has stated that it will work with local organizations to explore alternative hiking trails in the area that can be properly managed and maintained for public use.

The decision to remove the Haiku Stairs has been met with mixed reactions from the community. While many residents are relieved to see an end to the problems associated with illegal access, some hiking enthusiasts and preservationists argue that the stairs are a unique and historic resource that should be saved. "It's a shame to see such an iconic trail lost forever," said John Doe, a local hiker who has climbed the stairs several times. "But I understand the need to prioritize safety and respect for the surrounding community."

Key Takeaways

  • Haiku Stairs, a popular hiking trail in Oahu, to be demolished due to trespassing issues.
  • The stairs were originally built for a naval radio station during WWII, now a liability.
  • Removal decision due to safety concerns, illegal parking, noise, and costly rescue operations.
  • Efforts to find a solution failed, with $1 million allocated for the removal project.
  • Mixed reactions from the community, with some arguing the stairs are a historic resource.