Hawaii’s Famous ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to be Demolished

If you've ever heard of Hawaii's famous Ha'ikū Stairs, also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” then you'll be saddened to learn that this iconic hiking trail is set to be demolished. The stairs have been closed to the public since 1987, but that hasn't stopped adventurous tourists from attempting to conquer the breathtaking hike. However, after years of complaints from locals, the decision has been made to remove the nearly 4,000 steps. The mayor of Honolulu, Rick Blangiardi, has emphasized that this project aims to prioritize public safety, prevent illegal trespassing, and address the concerns of neighboring property owners. While some groups are fighting to save the stairs, traversing this trail will become even more dangerous once the demolition takes place. So, it's best to admire the beauty of Hawaii from a safe distance.

Background of the Ha‘ikū Stairs

The Ha‘ikū Stairs, also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” is a famous hiking trail located in Hawaii. It has gained significant popularity among tourists due to its breathtaking views from atop a lush mountain ridge. However, the stairs have been closed to the public since 1987. Despite the closure, many tourists have continued to attempt the hike, drawn by the allure of the stunning scenery.

The popularity of the Ha‘ikū Stairs among tourists has been a cause of concern for local residents. Over the years, they have raised complaints about trespassing and the resulting disruptions and disturbances caused by avid hikers. Local property owners have had to deal with the challenges of people climbing fences and damaging their property in order to access the stairs. This ongoing issue has prompted the need for a resolution to address the concerns of both the local community and the tourists who are drawn to the area.

Official Decision to Remove the Stairs

The decision to remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs was announced by the Honolulu Mayor, Rick Blangiardi. In 2021, the city council voted unanimously in favor of the removal. The primary motivations behind this decision were public safety, putting an end to trespassing, and addressing liability issues. The city recognized the need to prioritize the safety of hikers, prevent unauthorized access to the stairs, and mitigate potential legal liabilities.

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Mayor Blangiardi emphasized the importance of the removal project in preserving the natural beauty and condition of the area. Additionally, the decision aimed to improve the quality of life for the residents who have been affected by the disruptions caused by trespassers. The city's commitment to addressing these issues demonstrated their dedication to ensuring the of both the local community and visitors.

The Process of Demolition

To remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs, a detailed plan was put into place. The first step involved using helicopters to remove the nearly 4,000 steps. This method was chosen to ensure efficient and safe removal of the stairs, considering the challenging terrain they are located in. Once the stairs were transported to the ground, contractors planned to further disassemble them.

The demolition process was scheduled to commence in April 2022, marking a significant milestone in the efforts to remove the stairs. This carefully planned approach aimed to mitigate any potential risks and ensure the successful completion of the project. By executing the demolition in a systematic manner, authorities intended to minimize disruption to the surrounding environment and ensure the safety of the workers involved.

Rescues and Issues Over The Years

Over the years, authorities have had to perform numerous rescues of hikers who defied the closure and attempted to hike the Ha‘ikū Stairs. The allure of the stunning views and unique hiking experience has led many individuals to disregard the rules and put themselves at risk. These rescues highlight the challenges and dangers associated with hiking the stairs without proper authorization.

Those who have chosen to trespass and hike the stairs have encountered various issues. They faced injuries and safety concerns due to the rugged terrain and lack of proper equipment. Additionally, the continued trespassing has resulted in conflicts with local property owners and disrupted the peaceful living conditions for nearby residents. These issues further underscored the need for a definitive solution to address the problems associated with the Ha‘ikū Stairs.

Reaction from Local Community

The official decision to remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs brought relief and support from local stakeholders and residents. For those who had been dealing with the negative impacts of trespassing, the removal represented a resolution to the ongoing issues. The removal project aimed to restore peace to the community and improve the quality of life for residents affected by the disturbances caused by unauthorized hikers.

However, the demolition also raised concerns among local residents. Some worried about the potential disruptions and disturbances that may arise during the removal process. Additionally, there were concerns about the impact of the removal on the preservation and natural beauty of the area. The Ha‘ikū Stairs held a significant place in the community's history and cultural heritage, so the decision to remove them was not without its challenges.

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Opposition from Hiking and Historic Preservation Groups

While the decision to remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs received support from local residents, it faced opposition from hiking and historic preservation groups. The Friends of Ha‘ikū Stairs, among others, expressed their intentions to fight the decision. They believed that the stairs offered a unique and world-class hiking experience that should be preserved for future generations.

Public opinion on the removal of the stairs varied. Some shared the sentiment of the preservation groups and expressed their desire to save the stairs. However, others recognized the importance of public safety, stopping trespassing, and addressing liability issues. The opinions regarding the removal highlighted the complex nature of the situation, as it involved balancing the preservation of a unique experience with concerns for safety and legality.

Local and Tourist Response

The decision to remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs had different impacts on the local community and tourists. Locals who had been directly affected by the issues related to trespassing welcomed the decision. They hoped that the removal would put an end to the disruptions and disturbances caused by unauthorized hikers. The improvement in the quality of life for residents was seen as a positive outcome of the decision.

For tourists interested in hiking the Ha‘ikū Stairs, the removal presented a significant change. The closure of the stairs meant that the unique hiking experience would no longer be accessible. This change prompted a shift in the available for tourists seeking outdoor adventures in Hawaii. While the removal closed one door, it also opened up possibilities for exploring hiking trails and experiencing the diverse natural beauty of the region.

The removal of the Ha‘ikū Stairs also had potential economic implications for local tourism. The stairs had become a popular attraction for visitors, drawing tourists from around the world. By removing this iconic hiking trail, there might be a shift in tourism patterns. However, this change also presented an opportunity for local businesses and attractions to promote other outdoor activities and encourage tourists to explore different aspects of Hawaii's natural wonders.

Future Implications

With the Ha‘ikū Stairs set to be demolished, attempting to traverse the site after the removal poses extra risks. Authorities strongly advised against undertaking any activities in the area without proper authorization. The removal of the stairs had the intention of preventing unauthorized access and ensuring public safety. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals to respect the closure and not put themselves in harm's way.

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Adventurous tourists should take heed of the warnings and explore alternative hiking experiences that are easily accessible and authorized. Hawaii offers a wealth of natural beauty, and visitors can find numerous picturesque trails that offer stunning views and unique experiences. By respecting the regulations and safety considerations, tourists can continue to enjoy the wonders of Hawaii's landscape while also ensuring their own .

The fate of the site after the removal of the stairs remains to be seen. There are possibilities for development or preservation initiatives that may arise in the future. The area holds cultural and historical significance, and various stakeholders may explore to honor and preserve its heritage. It will be interesting to observe the future developments on the site and how it will continue to contribute to the overall landscape and cultural identity of Hawaii.

The Legacy of the Stairs

The Ha‘ikū Stairs hold a special place in the hearts and memories of those who have experienced the hike. The removal of the stairs marks the end of an era of unique hiking in Hawaii. Images and memories of the breathtaking views and challenges faced along the trail will be immortalized in photographs and digital media.

Nostalgic recollections of past climbers will serve as a reminder of the once-thriving “Stairway to Heaven” and the allure it held for adventurous explorers. The Ha‘ikū Stairs will forever remain a part of Hawaii's rich history and folklore, encapsulating the spirit of exploration and appreciation for nature.


In conclusion, the decision to remove the Ha‘ikū Stairs was driven by the need to prioritize public safety, put an end to trespassing, and address liability issues. The announcement brought relief to local residents and stakeholders who had been affected by the disruptions caused by unauthorized hikers. However, opposition from hiking and historic preservation groups reflected the complexity of the situation.

The removal of the stairs will have implications for both the local community and tourists. Locals will experience an improved quality of life, while tourists will need to explore alternative hiking trails. The removal also opens up possibilities for the development or preservation of the site in the future.

As the Ha‘ikū Stairs are dismantled, it is essential to reflect on the symbolic significance of this iconic hiking trail. It represented a unique and world-class experience for adventurers, but it also posed challenges in terms of safety and legality. Moving forward, the legacy of the stairs will live on in memories and photographs, serving as a reminder of the beauty and allure of Hawaii's natural wonders.

Source: https://www.mensjournal.com/news/demolition-hawaii-infamous-illegal-trails

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