I received so many DM’s, questions and comments on Instagram regarding the Stairway to Heaven hike I did last May that I figured I would do a blog post about it.
As a disclaimer, being on the actual stairs is illegal and you can be fined $1000 USD/per person + a court date once at the bottom of the stairs if you’re caught. It’s up to your discretion if you’d like to risk this. I’ve read countless blog posts about people being successful (or not) in finding alternate routes in the dark, bypassing the guard, and etc.
We didn’t want to risk this and had heard through a couple of our friends about accessing the stairs via the “back way.” I would highly recommend hiking this trail because the views are absolutely incredible. You won’t see the same views by just going up the stairs. These are the most common questions I’ve received about this hike.
How did you do this hike?
We went with a local guide Mike who took us all the way to the top. He charges a fee, but it’s well worth it. He’s also an amazing photographer and took plenty of photos for us on the actual stairs and edited/emailed them the day after. I would highly recommend going with a guide. It was great having him tell us what to expect during the hike. He will also provide gloves and spikes for your shoes. Send him a DM before your trip to check availability! Be sure to book the hike earlier on your trip in case it has to be cancelled due to weather.
Do you recommend hiking the trail on my own?
It’s a relatively new trail within the last two years, but we did see a few hikers doing the trail on their own. You may just run into problems finding the spot where you have to enter the forest to start hiking the actual summit. As of May 2018, there are no signs indicating this spot. If you get lucky, you may bump into other hikers and you can just follow them or follow what looks like a trail.
How long was the hike?
The hike took us ten hours round trip. In saying this, we spent almost two hours at the top relaxing and taking photos at different sections of the stairs. But it does take approximately four hours each way. The trail is approx. 15 kilometres (or 9.5 miles) round trip, almost half of which is a flat path.
How difficult was the hike?
If you’ve done a lot of hikes, the trail is actually pretty straightforward. However, it’s a VERY strenuous hike and is difficult fitness wise since it involves a lot of cardio and just straight uphill climbing. Wearing the gloves and shoe spikes make parts of the trail quite easy to hike, but be prepared to be out of breath a lot for the long uphill bits if you’re not in the best shape like me. The nice thing about this trail is there are plenty of breaks with flat path and beautiful views to soak in if you need to take a break.
Where is the start of this hiking trail?
Google map “Moanalua Valley Trail Start (Kulana’ahane).” Address: 1849 Ala Aolani Street, Honolulu, HI 96819, USA. Start early!
Did you go back the same way or did you take the stairs down?
We hiked back the same way.
Any Other Tips?
Don’t wear your best sneakers. I wore my new white shoes since my other ones were wet from a previous hike. You will literally walk through a stream of water (among several) within ten minutes of starting the trail. And your shoes will also become very, VERY muddy.
Stay hydrated!!! I cannot stress this one enough. Mike told us to bring 2.5-3.5 litres of water PER person. You will need it!
Bring and wear sunscreen. It was overcast the day we did our hike so we neglected the sunscreen and Alex got extremely sunburnt!
Wear leggings. I wore shorts and got loads of scrapes from the branches.
Make sure to eat a breakfast before and bring snacks to eat once you reach the top of the summit.