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Hawaii’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Hike Could Be Closing Down

Dorathy Gass

Sad news for travel enthusiasts who may have Hawaii’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ hiking trail currently on their bucket list: according to a recent Huffington Post article, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) is in the initial stages of trying to get this iconic trail closed down.

As the agency who manages the site, the BWS is currently planning on spending $500,000 for differing studies, including an environmental assessment to determine the most effective way to remove the 3922-step trail. Officially known as Haiku Stairs, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is located in Kaneohe, and extends up within the Koolau mountain.

BWS officials say they no longer want to be responsible for the trail, due to public safety problems, and neighborhood issues with trespassing and traffic in the past. For any adventurist who wants to climb ‘Stairway to Heaven’, written permission is required by the BWS and liability insurance of $1 million dollars is needed. In addition, BWS currently pays $160,000 annually for security guards; to ensure no trespassers walk through the controversial trail without the proper permission.

Shawn Nakamoto, spokeswoman for BWS, recently commented to Civil Beat that there is currently no other agency who would like to take over the responsibility of Haiku Stairs. The BWS originally discussed the idea to remove the trail, after a storm damaged parts of the stairs in early 2015. The board then voted to move forward with an initial engineering study to come up with the best, most cost effective, efficient, and safest way to close the trail. The money for this project will cover the removal, as well as an environmental impact statement, which will aid the BWS in deciding which method of demolition would be best for shutting the trail down. The cost around removal of the staircase has not been confirmed yet, and some fans and advocates for the trail are hoping there is a chance to save the ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

The group known as, Friends of Haiku Stairs, recently stated to Civil Beat, that the idea spending a considerable amount of money to remove what is considered a ‘nation treasure’ is ‘ridiculous’. The group also noted that the recent storm only caused surface damage, and that they have already stepped up and offered to repair it. The group is also trying to come up with another plan to manage the trail, and take it off the BWS’ hands.