Updated: Dec 16, 2018

Stairway to heaven - the alternative and legal way! I often get questions about the “insta-famous” Stairway to Heaven (Haiku stairs). How to get past the guard, what to bring and how long it takes. 

First off, I only went up the stairs a couple of times as I prefer to hike up the backway (Moanalua Valley Trail). However, if you scroll to the bottom of this article I'll let you know everything you need to know to get hike up the stairs!

The backway (in my opinion) has a better view, takes a little bit longer, but you’re not doing anything illegal until you hit the stairs, which means you don’t have to worry about the guards. The hike is 15km roundtrip and takes 3-4 hours one way depending on your fitness level.

The trailhead for the backside starts at the end of Ala Aolani St, Honolulu, HI 96819 (The neighborhood at the end of the valley - See picture above) you park at the end of the road by an outdoor gym and park. Follow the trail into the woods and stay on the trail for 40 minutes - 1 hour (4km) you’ll then reach a sign on your left and a dry ditch, cross to the other side and stay to the right and you’ll start scaling a ridge within minutes, now you just have to keep moving. Stay on the trail and enjoy the view and before you know it you will reach the top of the famous Stairway to heaven.

If you would like a guide or more information about this hike, reach out to my good friend @Mike.Karas (instagram) - Stairway to heaven is his second home! 

Bring a lot of food and water! I always brought some gatorade as you will break a sweat climbing up the mountain. PS: This hike can be VERY muddy so I recommend doing this on a sunny day when the trail is dry.


The front is where the actual stairs are located. There are guards patrolling at the bottom of the stairs as well as cops patrolling the neighbourhood and if they catch you, they will gladly give you a $1000 fine. However, if you want to risk it this is how you do it: 1. Take an uber as the neighbours will call the cops before you're able to park and get out of your car.

2. Choose your path:

-Path 1: The guy living in the house by nr. 1 will call the cops and take pictures of you with a flash before you are able to say "hi". However, you can walk around the fence on the righthand side and follow the road until you meet the guard. Be respectful and he/she might be nice to you.

-Path 2: Get off the road and down in the drain/ditch and follow it into the forrest. Get off the government road as fast as possible as that is the road cops and guards drive on to get to the bottom of the stairs.

-Path 3: Walk to the end of the neighbourhood, climb the fence between two houses and continue on the road on the other side. Same as with path 2, get off the government road as fast as possible.

3. If you get passed the guard and to the stairs, enjoy the climb!

I highly recommend you guys to hike Stairway to heaven the legal way. You will avoid a fine of up to $1000 and you will still get the same shots of the stairs as you would going the other way just with a bit more effort.

© Salvesen & Co