Moanalua Valley Trail Hiking Trail
The legal way to hike up to the top of Haiku Stairs
- Destination: Hawaii
- Season: January-December
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Distance: 14.8 kilometers (out‑and‑back)
- Elevation Gain: 810 meters
- Duration: 5-8 hours
About Moanalua Valley Trail
This is the only legal trail to the top of Haiku Stairs, also known as "Stairway to Heaven". This route is longer than the stairs but when hiking it you can feel safe that you will not get fined for going up the illegal stairs.
The trail leads you through many different sceneries. It starts by going through a rainforest to climbing a ridge and finally to the top of Haiku Stairs. If you like climbing and beautiful views, this is hike is a great choice.
From Honolulu drive north on the Interstate H-1. Take the Moanalua Freeway to Moanalua valley and exit the highway on Ala Aolani street. You will find the parking lot for the trail on the end of this road. The parking lot has room for 15 cars and is open from 7am to 7pm. If the parking is full you need to street park.
On the island it is wise to rent a car. The public bus does not run often and drives only between the larger towns on the highway.
The trail starts from the parking lot and after a small hill, you hike into the rainforest. The first 4.5 kilometers will be almost flat. On the way, you will pass many small streams. Sometimes you have to cross these, so put on water-resistant shoes.
The trail follows the river, and after 4.5 kilometers you will cross the river once more and the climbing begins. If it has been raining, the trail is really muddy.
The climbing starts with a bit of scrambling on rocks and tree roots. After 100 meters the climbing will be steeper, but there are ropes you can hold on to. The climbing keeps on until you reach the peak. The peak is also the end of the Stairway to Heaven, so you will have nice views over the stairs, the valley and the sea around you!
- No drinking water on the trail, so make sure to fill up before leaving the parking lot.
- Public toilets in the parking lot.
- You will find lot of shops in Honolulu if you need to stack up on supplies.
Where to stay
You can choose from one of the many hotels in Honolulu. The island is not big, the maximum distance you can travel in any direction is two hours by car.
The island also has several camping sites if you want to bring your tent.
Questions or comments? Let us know.
By Nadja Kroon
World traveler originally from the Netherlands.