America’s most illegal hike: A Hawaiian ladder with nearly 4,000 steps

(Photo credit: Geoff Potter/Flickr)(Photo credit: Geoff Potter/Flickr)

Do you want to find the “Stairway to Heaven?”

If you climb the Haiku Stairs on a steep hiking trail on the island of O’ahu that begins in the Moanalua Valley and ends at the Haiku Ladder/Stairs, you you might find it – but you also may get arrested.

According to an ABC News-5 report, this is the America’s most illegal hike.

(Photo credit: davidd/Flickr)(Photo credit: davidd/Flickr)

According to Wikipedia, as well as other sources, the trail began as a wooden ladder spiked to the cliff on the south side of the Haʻikū Valley. The ladder was installed in 1942 to enable antenna cables to be strung from one side of the cliffs above Haʻikū Valley to the other.

To provide continuous communication link between Wahiawā and Haʻikū Valley Naval Radio Station, a building was constructed at the peak of Puʻukeahiakahoe, which is about 2,800 feet in elevation. The antennas transmitted very low frequency radio signals from a 200,000-watt Alexanderson alternator in the center of Haʻikū valley.

When the Navy decommissioned the site in the 1950s, the wooden stairs were replaced by sections of metal steps and ramps. By one count, there were 3,922 steps. The station and trail were closed to the public in 1987, and the trail is clearly marked with “No Trespassing” signs. However, that has not deterred some hikers.

I am an adventure seeker, but I think this is one hike that I’ll skip. Not just because it’s illegal, but also because if I make one wrong move I’d be skydiving without a parachute. (Skydiving, however, is on my bucket list!)

For architectural and historical information on the stairs, visit the Friends of the Haiku Stairs website.