The Stairway to Heaven is a pretty big deal – all around the world. While it never seemed that appealing to me considering all of the other amazing views on the island (and the risk of a $1000 fine), I figured I couldn’t leave the island without seeing it at least once. Since it is illegal to hike on the Stairway to Heaven (or Haiku Stairs), Moanalua Middle Ridge offers a slightly more legal way. Technically it is still illegal to be at the top of the stairs, but there is no guard on the top, so it’s safer. I did this hike alone, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. I had a lot of people calling me brave on the way up haha.
The first hour of the hike is walking through Moanalua Valley Park. The trailhead for Moanalua Middle Ridge is about 3 miles in. A good warm up! I was wearing my first real pair of hiking shoes on this hike – a pair of Ahnu’s! They really came in handy this time for walking such a long distance, and it was a big change from my water shoes haha.
The next hour after starting the actual trail for the ridge is spent at a total incline. It really kicked my ass! I had to take a ton of breaks to catch my breath and drink some water. Plenty of time to enjoy the views!
If you hike the ridge after it has rained recently, it will be very muddy. In some cases, this can be helpful because your feet will stick in the mud and give you more stability. But if the trail has had heavy traffic that day, a lot of times it will create slippery terrain, especially along slopes. I went after it hadn’t rained for awhile, only to find that the mud was now loose dirt. For some parts of the slopes, I had to walk on all fours to keep from sliding off the mountain. Definitely some scary shit up there. Because it was almost impossible to find footing on some of the inclines due to the loose dirt, I had to put all my weight on some of the ropes. Please try not to do this as it’s very dangerous! One of the ropes is literally only attached to a very unstable dead tree that will most likely uproot soon.
There will be a sign that lets you know you have reached the end of Moanalua Middle Ridge. The trail will fork to the left and right. Right will take you to a more dangerous trail, and left will take you to the stairs. It’s about another twenty minutes of hiking to get to the stairs. They aight.
Took some evidence of getting my ass kicked 😉
The views of the mountains and the east side of the island are pretty nice, too! If you ever ride down H3, these are the mountains you’re looking at after you pass through the tunnels.
I was hella tired after getting up here!! I ate lunch, drank a lotta water, and took a small nap in a patch of grass I found facing back the way I came. Yeah, I hiked all of this.
It was another four hours back! Going back down the steep inclines meant a lot (a lot) of butt sliding since the dirt was so loose. I’m actually surprised I didn’t rip a hole in my pants. I did end up with a bunch of dirt in my ass somehow, though. On the way back, I took a photo of the narrow ridge which, for some reason, seemed scarier now than before.
Getting off the ridge was a huge, huge relief! I stopped and rested for almost thirty minutes – so glad that my life was no longer in constant danger haha. Unfortunately, it was still an hour walk back to the car through the Moanalua Valley Park. This was definitely one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done! Totally never doing it again.The next day, I couldn’t even get out of bed! Literally all day I just laid around in pain haha. Not to mention I put on sunscreen twice and still got a really bad sunburn. I had to take about three showers to get all of this dirt off, too!
Because I feel obligated, I’m going to kind of beg you not to do what most people do and hike the stairs at 2am to avoid the guard. The bottom of the stairs is in a residential area, and it’s just not respectful to walk through people’s yards at this time in the day. You can alert dogs who will start barking and wake up the neighborhood. Either go up the stairs and down the ridge, up and down the ridge, or up and down the stairs and risk getting ticketed. Whatever you decide to do, do it with respect!