Halawa Ridge to Haiku Hidden Stairs

by kenji SAITO on August 26, 2012

Hiking Halawa Ridge to Haiku Hidden Stairs

When we last hiked to Haiku Stairs, I had heard about another lesser known stairs that was located across the valley on Haiku Ridge, called Haiku Hidden Stairs or Stairway to Hell. Not one to pass up the chance to check out a new hike, I met Glenn at the end of Iwaena Street in Halawa Valley at 6:30am.

Crossing the streambed

Crossing the streambed

We entered the Halawa Xeriscape Garden through an access gate to the left of the main gate and pushed our way through chest high grass to get to the back of the garden, where the trail went to the left through more tall grass. Eventually, we came across a rain gaging station and crossed the dry streambed to regain the trail.

Underneath the H3 Freeway

Underneath the H3 Freeway

The trail continues underneath the H-3 Freeway or more formally known as the John A. Burns Freeway.

Access Road

Access Road

As we made our way out from underneath the H3, we had to push through more tall grass to get to an access road. We picked up the trail again by going up the hill right before the bridge. The trail is ribboned and roped in certain steep parts until we got to the top of Halawa Ridge, where we took a left on the dirt road which lead us into Halawa Valley.

Landslide and the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels

Landslide and the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels

The trail is initially open and strewn with fallen trees and branches. A good sized pig startled us as it ran across the trail. After that, a couple hunting dogs started to follow us until they found their owners. Then the trail was swallowed by uluhe ferns and thick pockets of vegetation. Slogging through all that, made me long for a narrow ridge with thousand foot drops on both sides. We eventually came out of the valley to be greeted by a landslide that had taken a big chunk of the trail away, luckily there was a trail to the right that went around it.

H3 through Halawa Valley

H3 through Halawa Valley

Looking back at the H3 snaking it’s way through Halawa Valley. If it wasn’t for the Damon Estate and a certain petroglyph encrusted rock called the Pohaku ka Luahine, the H3 would have gone through Moanalua Valley instead. The trail then gradually wound its way through the sides of the mountain. No steep climb with rapid elevation gains here, this trail makes you work for the views.

Panoramic view from Haiku Ridge

Panoramic view from Haiku Ridge

We got to the top of Haiku Ridge around 11:30am to take in awesome views of Haiku Valley and Kaneohe. We could even see the CCL Building across the valley as we ate our lunch. Click here to see the larger panoramic view from Haiku Ridge.

Moanalua Saddle

Moanalua Saddle

Spending five hours trudging through the valley and the sides of the mountain, I was looking forward to the welcome break of climbing hills and ridges.

Geo Marker

Geo Marker

When we got to the top of the hill, it was capped by a geo marker with commanding views of the Windward side of the island.

CCL Building

CCL Building

As we made our way along the trail, we encountered the now familiar A-frame foundations that once held antenna cables that was strung to the opposite side of the valley. That must have been an engineering feat to pull off back in the day.

Rusted stairs and cable

Rusted stairs and cable

We soon came upon the first section of the rusted stairs, that gave way to staked cables that provided solid holds on the narrow ridge.

Bunker

Bunker

After passing a bunker or storehouse, our destination was just over the hill.

Panoramic view from Haiku Hidden Stairs

Panoramic view from Haiku Hidden Stairs

We got to the stairs around 1:00pm, the view was more panoramic and stunning than one afforded by the Haiku Stairs. Click here to see the larger panoramic image from the top of Haiku Hidden Stairs.

Jungle Stairs

Jungle Stairs

Did I mention that parts of the stairs are almost completely overgrown? Not only that, but the stairs are missing steps and railings on some sides going down. And what railings exist, may crumble to dust when you touch them as I found out when I was going down the stairs, one section of the railing literally dissolved into rusted dust when I grabbed it.

Stairway to Hell

Stairway to Hell

I was sorely tempted to go down until the stairs terminated at about the middle of the ridge. However, the day was getting long and we still had to haul ourselves back to our cars. Luckily I stopped halfway down the stairs and we hiked back out the valley and got to our cars around 7:00pm just as darkness covered the island.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Lee January 30, 2015 at 6:37 am

Happy Aloha Friday!

My daughter and I will be visiting in June and I was wondering if you ever host a hike? It would be extra awesome to hike with a local who has experience. We are both in great shape so we can keep up jus fine :) She is 20 and I am 39 from L.A. Is this hike as long as the Makapu’u kine?

Your pics and comments are epic so mahalo for sharing online.

Any tips/and or guidance would be nice.

Heather

Reply

kenji SAITO January 30, 2015 at 11:22 pm

Aloha Heather,
Glad you enjoyed the pics and thanks for visiting. If our schedules work, then we can certainly hike together. Just remind me as the date approaches. I wouldn’t recommend this hike as it’s a grinder and basically goes from sunup to sundown. The Makapu’u hike might be a better match.
Mahalo

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Brandon November 30, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Hi I will be in Honolulu December 18 to the 22nd. I want to do the Haiku Hidden Stairs hike. Was wondering if you are available to join me and my friends for this hike or if you have someone you recommend. If not any tips and any hazardous areas I should be mindful of? Please let me know when you get the chance.

Mahalo

Reply

kenji SAITO November 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Aloha Brandon,
Thanks for asking, however I’m not available during your short stay in the islands. I would not recommend going up the Halawa route as it’s extremely overgrown, if this is your first time the routes are many to get there but one can easily get lead astray especially if the ridges are socked in, as they usually are this time of the year. Also any way you cut it, this is a long hike depending on your pace and all, but looking at 8-12 hours. I would highly recommend you seek the company of one(s) that have already been there, they can be found in several Hawaii hiking groups on facebook, perhaps post there and see if anybody would be willing to keep you company. Hope this helps somewhat. Stay safe and have fun.
Mahalo

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