The Notoriously Illegal 4,000-Step ‘Stairway To Heaven’ In Hawaii Is Pure Insanity

It’s called the Haiku Stairs, also known as the (Stairway to Heaven Hawaii), and it has one of the most breathtaking views on the entire planet.

However, that view comes with a price… because it’s actually illegal to climb. The stairway was originally installed during World War II so military could access a radio station antennae that sat roughly 2,000 feet up in the mountains.

Located on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, this staircase, which reaches a peak of nearly 3,000 feet, is forbidden by the Hawaiian government due to liability issues and land access problems….. a guard was even present during the day (though many people now say the guard is gone).

The majority of the trek haiku stairs is nearly vertical

stairway to heaven hawaii

You wouldn’t want to look down

hawaii stairway to heaven

Even with all the restrictions, it doesn’t stop the thrill seekers, they say it’s worth the risk of being arrested. There are many parts to the hike that are pretty terrifying, but one of the scariest moments are early on, when you’re forced to climb a ladder vertically up a steep mountain….

stairway to heaven hike

There’s 4,000 stairs in total

Haiku Stairs

Now the sad part…. Just recently a powerful storm damaged most of the stairs making it now almost completely inaccessible in some spots…. the entire fate of the stairs is now up in the air unless community organizations come together to fix it—> *Update on this below.

Check out some of the surreal photos below… and make sure to watch Samuel Norwack’s video of the entire haiku stairs hike at the end.

Many people start the hike early in the morning when it’s still dark so they can catch the sunrise


The steps up the steep mountain actually use to be all made of wood… if you can believe it. However, in the mid 1950’s those wooden steps were replaced with sections of metal steps and ramps totaling approximately 3,922. Just imagine walking around on wooden steps, that would be even more terrifying…..

I’m not sure I would ever leave this place

A photo posted by Sun Islands (@sunislandscom) on



 As you can tell… it’s well worth the risk. Just look at that view!


Bucket list worthy!


A photo posted by Isabel Cruz (@izzylivin) on

Here’s the video of the entire trek:

**Update: According to Fox News, “in October, a nonprofit organization, Friends of Haiku Stairs, laid out a plan to collect revenue from tourists and local hikers, which would fund reconstruction and subsidize maintenance costs, reports Pacific Business News. They’re proposing a plan that includes a $100 fee for out-of-state visitors, and a $5 to $20 fee for Hawaiian residents.”

You can keep up-to-date over at their website, and you can also sign the petition here.

If you thought the Haiku Stairs were crazy… Check out the 7 most extreme stairs from around the world. (photos via: Vimeo/Samuel Nowack – unless embedded)

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