Pu’u Keahi a Kaohe or “Hill of Kahoe’s Fire” is an intimating 2,820 ft hill that overlooks Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu. It is mostly famous for being the final destination of the Stairway to Heaven or Haiku Stairs. Personally, I have been up the stairway before but I wanted to take the legal way this time so that I could see the view during the day. Please enjoy my photowalk from Honolulu to Kaneohe via the Middle Ridge Trail and Haiku Stairs.
Once again, I started hiking from the Monolua Valley neighborhood, which has a park towards the very back. From the park, its a long boring walk along a dirt road before you reach the start of the Middle Ridge trail.
From the state trail head, to access the Middle Ridge trail you must keep walking down the main road for about 20 ft. It’s the ribbon entrance on your left.
Along the trail were many strawberry guava trees and, supposedly, their fruit is edible. I tried opening one to see what it was like. Inside the fruit was this “snotty seed stuff” that reminded me of Japanese natto. Gross! ^^;
Originally, I was going to climb Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe and then return all the way back to my car. It ended up not turning out that way. Halfway through the trail, I was determined to make this a “up and over climb”, if I didn’t chicken out this time. ^^;
I have attempted to get on the top of this ridge four times, each time being too scared to go up all the way. I am scared of heights and the closer you get to the top of the Ko’olaus the more extreme it becomes. There are powerful trade winds up there, slippery trails with steep drop offs, and weather that changes minute to minute.
Whenever I go hiking, I make it a point to practice my macro shots with all the unusual Hawaiian plants and wildlife. It never hurts to stop and smell the flowers! (:
The Middle Ridge trail is much easier then Tripler (and safer) so I felt confident pushing forward. This is also where I turned around last time. I had previously attempted the Middle Ridge climb but had to turn back due to an intense storm that came from nowhere. ^^;
Today, it was a bit cloudy but it seemed to be clearing up more and more the higher I climbed. (:
More Hawaiian flowers.
Nearly at the top, I turned around and saw this incredible view of nearly the entire island of Oahu. You could even see the leeward mountain range and my apartment from up there. (:
The wind was howling and the trail was getting steeper but I was so close! I had a good feeling that I would finally be able to see a bird’s eye view of Kaneohe and the windward side! Plus, I really wanted to see the Stairway to Heaven during the day! (:
On my way up, I caught a glimpse of the windward coasts and the sheer cliffs of the Ko’olaus on my left.
The final assent was intense and there were some dicey moments where I had to rely on a rope to keep me from falling to my death but because I didn’t want to walk back, I pressed on.
I did it! I finally made it to the top of Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe and was standing on top of some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. (:
To my right, I could see downtown Honolulu in the distance. (:
At the summit, you can also see Coast Guard markers stating the you have, indeed, made it to the top of Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe. (:
The view of Kanohe was unbelievable. It’s was worth the exhaustion of coming up here. My legs were buckling from exhaustion/fear and I was feeling dizzy but I did it!
Now, to safely get to the Stairway to Heaven satellite building. Easier said then done. It was insanely muddy and slippery up there and there was an almost 2,800 ft death drop on my right to consider. I didn’t want to slip off the ridge and fall to my death. ^^;
I was on all fours in the mud on a path barely big enough for my foot. This is the death drop I saw on my right. ^^;
Earlier I said I was scared of heights. I still am. I was shaking so much with all these death drops around. ^^;
Almost there. The satellite looked so cool.
The first time I went up here, I could hardly make out the satellite at all with all the mist and rain. This time, I got to see it during the daylight and from the opposite side that most folks get to see it. (:
Finally, the safe zone. Once you make it to the Stairway to Heaven, you are pretty much safe.
Looking back at the overgrown ridge line I just climbed over. ^^;
The Haiku Stairs outhouse? =P
The inside of the satellite was many times more dirty then last time. People need to take their trash with them!!
Here I took a break and saw just how dirty I was. My shoes were literally filled with mud water and my pants were caked with mud. ^^;
Former radio antennas? I’m not really sure what these used to be…
Now, it was time to leave Heaven and proceed down the staircase. (:
The Stairway to Heaven was not as intimidating this time around. Unlike last time, there was no rain and it wasn’t four in the morning. ^^;
Also, the view was absolutely Godly up there. This has to be my favorite trail on Oahu. Sadly, even though it’s one of the safest it’s also one of the most illegal. For some reason, the Haiku Stairs are still off limits. It’s a shame. ):
Looking back one more time at the distance I had already covered. Going down is so much easier. (:
As I looked off in the distance, I could even see Mokolii or “China Man’s Hat”; an offshore island that I still need to see. :3
An old warning sign saying that the Haiku Stairs were slippery. Perhaps for when the stairs were going to be open to the public?
There is another structure, besides the satellite, from when the base was still in use.
On my left, I could see the H-3 tunnels. These highway tunnels go through the Ko’olau Mountain Range allowing for easy commuting from Kaneohe to Honolulu. They are actually really fun to drive in! (:
Overall, this was my favorite adventure in Hawaii to date. The views were heavenly, the trails were manageable (but still dangerous), and I felt a lot stronger having completed it. (:
*Disclaimer* The Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven) is closed. For that reason, I can not give directions to the trail head. However, they should be posted online somewhere.
EDIT: There is now a school near the bottom of the stairs. Please avoid descending the stairs all the way to the bottom from now on. This is causing problems for this new school.
Take care! (: