Honolulu City Council Moves To Destroy Famous ‘Stairway To Heaven’ Hiking Trail

by Amy Myers

This hiking trail might be one of Honolulu’s most popular tourist attractions, but it’s also the most dangerous. Seventy years after its initial construction, the City Council decides it’s time to remove the Stairway to Heaven trail. Originally, the U.S. Navy constructed the trail to serve as a secret passageway to a radio base during World War II. Since then, the trail gained popularity after it was featured in an episode of Magnum P.I. in the 80s. Located along Oahu’s Koolau mountain range, the stairs became a must-see for Hawaii vacationers.

The Honolulu hiking trail is not for the faint of heart. While the trail offers unbelievable views of the island nation, the 3,922-step climb is at the very least treacherous and at the very most, fatal. With its steep climb and worn structure, the Stairway to Heaven offers little forgiveness. One misstep could have tourists tumbling down the mountainside. Not to mention, if an injury occurs near the top of the trail, emergency evacuation is nearly impossible and quite dangerous for responding authorities. Altogether, the hiking trail spells out a risk that’s not worth taking.

Still, Honolulu struggles to keep visitors off of the now-forbidden hiking trail. In fact, if caught on the Stairway to Heaven, hikers can receive a hefty $1,000 fine. Likely, the council hoped that the fines and discouragement would prevent the body from having to destroy the historic landmark. But even the thousand-dollar penalty couldn’t keep trespassers from making the risky climb. Unfortunately, this left the Honolulu City Council with one choice: move to destroy the stairway.

Residents Near Honolulu Split Over Decision to Destroy Famous Hiking Trail

While the ultimate decision of the trail’s fate lies in the hands of Mayor Rick Blangardi, he will certainly take into consideration the Honolulu City Council’s motion. Of course, the council didn’t come up with the motion to destroy the Stairway to Heaven hiking trail on its own. After listening to the concerns of Oahu residents, the body finalized its decision. However, the vote was certainly not unanimous. Many Hawaii residents that live close to the trail complained that visitors of the 3,922-step hiking trail often left behind vandalism and litter. With roughly 4,000 visitors every year, the area no doubt felt the toll of the hordes of people climbing the long stairway.

On the other hand, though, other Hawaii natives argued that the Stairway to Heaven trail is an important piece of the area’s history. Destroying it would be a huge loss to the island’s role in WWII. While it may not be the most sturdy of trails, these locals believe it should remain open to the public.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the members of Honolulu’s City Council, the cons outweigh the pros. In order to prevent further trespassing, liability, littering and danger, the city set aside $1 million to destroy the famous trail.