Haiku Stairs

Stairway to Heaven


Haiku Stairs


Atop Puu Keahiakahoe summit in the Koolau mountain range on Hawaii’s island of Oahu are the remains of a microwave satellite relay station that at one time served in being able to transmit signals from Hawaii to submarines as far away as the depths of Tokyo Harbor.

Ha’iku, the Hawaiian word for Kahili flower, is the namesake for the Haiku Valley, chosen for the microwave transmitter project due to its elevation (2,850′) on steep cliffs whose valley bowls were ideal for long-distance transmissions to ships and submarines used in WWII near the waters of Australia and the Indian Ocean.

To first construct the transmitter in 1942, two climbers spent 21 days driving spikes into the sheer mountain wall while a crew down below constructed wooden ladders that could be lifted onto the spikes. These ladders were soon replaced with wooden stairs, which were eventually replaced with stairs made of galvanized steel.

The Haiku Stairs, alternatively called the Stairway To Heaven, today is a series of steps and planks, often rising near vertically, that follows the original wooden staircase route. The stairway stretches 8,050 feet long, and rises up 3,922 steps, sometimes passing by old sections of the wooden stairs that lay scattered beside the current route.

For a brief period, from 1975 to 1987, while under Air Force control, hikers were allowed to climb the stairs after signing a waiver at the station near the base until the Coast Guard closed the stairs completely to the public citing concerns over vandalism and liability. Following an ultimate military decommission of the relay station in 1997, fearing the dismantling of the stairs, hunters and hikers began trespassing to climb the stairs.

In 2002, after completing renovations to the stairs in a plan to reopen them to the public, the city ran into land-use issues with the public access at the base of the stairs. The stairs have been closed to the public and marked with posted No Trespassing signs since.

Today, a guard remains posted at the stairs’ base, and more recently a storm has washed out a portion of the stairs. The future of the Haiku Stairs is uncertain.


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Platform 2 just below the upper terminus for the cable car.








the Communications Control Link (CCL) Station housed equipment in the event of a land-communication failure between Pearl Harbor and several Naval radio stations.






the Communications Control Link (CCL) station at the top.


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