Explore Oahu East Side - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Oahu East Side Map

An easy hike to start the day. But.... you’re not alone :)

Aloha! I typically hike up 1-3 times a week. Hiked three times last week and twice this week. I will be hiking tomorrow on Sunday. I have hiked most of the hikes on this island many many times! I have probably done this particular hike more than anyone else on island. (over 100+ times) It is often windy and/or rainy but we never have issues as we always have the right gear (including microspikes) which is supplied by me when we go. If you're looking to hike and want to link up or get some ideas of what this trail looks like feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram @mike.karas or mikekarasphotography@gmail.com. Bring plenty of water for this hike and other hikes out here in Hawaii.

I really enjoyed this. The most uphill climb I’ve ever done, potentially more exhausting than Koko Head. The trail brings you across many peaks, so there will be a lot of ascending followed by descending, again and again. Best view I’ve seen in Oahu or anywhere in my life. We started from Kolowalu and it ended up being almost 8 miles in total. The trail was dry so the ropes weren’t needed, but were nice to have as option. Only saw three other groups of hikers over the course of four hours. We saw a dog too, honestly unsure how he did it because this is a VERY steep incline. I would do it again.

A nice view but absolutely rammed even by 8:30 this AM. otherwise might've done the trail in 20 min flat on the ascent.

I went the other day, it was very muddy and slippery. Crampons(spikes) recommended. I've done this hike many times. Going up this Sunday the 16th. if interested send me a message on instagram @angelo_q or email me at chicolo@hotmail.com for details. Make sure to bring plenty of water and food and maybe some layers because it can get pretty windy and wet up top

I will rate this for intermediate. It’s worth views from the top peaks that’s can look down on South Pacific Coast and on the East Pacific Coast. ARPORN GRUADNOK, KEITH JELBART & ALEX JELBART. We were went up to the top quicker than I thought. That’s Day was wet conditions very steeped up from the left we used the rope section recline upon the higher spots. The peaks fully of ferns over growth. But I did went up from very steep side. And another time I went up to the right side was with TERA MOELLA, HEATHER MEISINGER LOHMILLER. Felt like you’re trained in military. The peaks was connecting to Mount Olympus of K1/K2. It’s Amazingly views of Highest streak mountains up there. Was greatly breathtaking views from both sides. The rains had stop we’re still continued doing the hikes with slippery muddy conditions. Sky was clearly off after wards. The Views of Diamond Head was clearly, Koko Crater, Hanauma Bay, towards PACIFIC OCEAN, Waikiki towards runways, North PACIFIC, Coastal that’s can see clearly distances from where we’re stands above the sea levels about 2,500ft up. On the ways back I was run down fast. Apart from overall is beautifully views, lovely highly peaks along with each other from South towards the North. Gorgeous hikes with highly mountains ranks..........

Fantastic views so def worth a look. Trail is not too difficult but is overcrowded with many non-hikers.

A different perspective and perhaps a few controversial “hot takes” on this hike (I am referring to the the Moanalua Valley to Ha’iku CCL Station route):
1/ Spikes/crampons are not recommended. Hiking through the Moanalua Valley via the Kamananui Valley Road Trail and on to the Moanalua Middle Ridge past Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe and finally on to the CCL Station (building where the Ha’iku stairs descend into to Ha’iku Valley) does not require micro spikes. I have seen people complete it barefoot and in a variety of inappropriate footwear (i.e. slippahs and skate shoes). That said, the best option is to wear, you know, actual hiking shoes or trail running shoes. The problem with micro spikes is they can damage tree roots. In the lower portions of Middle Ridge they would mostly damage invasive guava but in the upper sections they could be causing harm to Ohia and other endemic plants. Is that the mark you want to leave on Oahu? This trail sees a lot of traffic and is facing issues with erosion, spikes are not helping. If you are really concerned about traction, consider bringing spikes but only wear them along the steepest portions of the ridge. Bring gloves and use your upper body to help you up to the top in the steep sections. I don’t own spikes and would never use them on any trail in the upper Ko’olau. This isn’t the Himalayas.
2/ Use the term Ha’iku Stairs and not Stairway to Heaven; get excited that you will reach the Keahi a Kahoe peak (one of the highest in the Ko’olau) shortly before arriving to the CCL station (the spot at the top of the stairs where you will get some amazing views). This hike should be called the Ha’iku Station hike, reflecting two pieces of the history of this place. So… learn about the history of the Moanalua Valley, the Haiku Valley, and the construction of the stairs. How many have walked right past the petroglyphs in the Moanalua Valley and never noticed them? Learn about a few of the special plants that are only seen near the top of Ko’olau range. This place is not about getting the best Instagram shot. It is about having a great day in nature, getting some exercise, building great memories with friends, and most importantly, showing some respect for the cultural and environmental aspects of Oahu. It is a damn shame that this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJV1U8uPVb0) has 7k views and this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKVxq7RLN30&t=24s) has 1.2 million views. If only this website was visited by a million people (http://koolaupoko-hcc.org). Stairway to Heaven is a Led Zeppelin song, prefer Kashmir anyways.
3/ The hike does not take that long to complete. People complaining that the “legal” way takes too long are, hate to say it, slow and perhaps unqualified to be on these trails to begin with. I have made it from the neighborhood park to the CCL in 2:15 and the reverse in under 2 hours. I am sure there are some speed demons who have run the Kamananui Valley Road part of the hike as far as the Middle Ridge and made it up in about 90 minutes. Everyone deserves to be able to access this area but stay within your limits, stay safe, and don’t risk getting hurt.
4/ The biggest issue with going the illegal way is you will be trespassing through people’s homes in Kaneohe. The stairs “should” be open the public but they are not. They “should” be managed by DLNR or a preservation organization that ensures maintenance is done but they are not. Mark Zuckerberg should donate $100 million to set up a park that opens the stairs and preserves the history and environment of the area but he has not. I don’t live in this neighborhood but I would be extremely frustrated with the situation if I did. Additionally, the stairs are the not the “tough” way to go. The allure is just that they are illegal and fetishized by the Instagram Imperialists. You get the same views whether you ascend Red Hill, Middle Ridge, Tripler Ridge, Bowman Ridge. The views from the H3 saddle are pretty great if you are more of a novice Hawaii hiker. If you want to be extreme on Windward Oahu there is the Kalihi Saddle or Piliwale Ridge. I have not and won’t climb the stairs until they become legal. Bowman to the KST, past Tripler Ridge, past Haiku Station, down to the H3 Saddle is far more of an adventure and offers the same if not a better series of views and all are on state lands (DLNR Forest Reserve).
5/ You are willing to pay the $1000 fine for the experience of hiking the actual stairs? Really? If you have a grand to just blow consider donating like $50 bucks to Friends of Haʻiku Stairs (https://www.haikustairs.org) who are actually working to save the stairs and the valley for future generations. Consider donating another $50 to the Koʻolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club (http://koolaupoko-hcc.org) who work to preserve Hawaiian culture in the area in and around Hai’ku Valley. Then buy some granola bars at Foodland and do this hike via Moanalua valley and Middle Ridge. There, I just saved you $895.

6/ If you are visiting Hawaii, don’t do this hike unless you are regularly hiking/trail running wherever you are coming from. If you do live here and are just starting to hike I recommend you start with some more intermediate trails first (i.e. Kuliouou Ridge or Moanalua Valley to H3 Saddle). I have had to intervene with directions, escort, and water for lost and/or overwhelmed hikers on multiple occasions in the last year (both in this area an other places on Oahu).
7/ Packing list: 2-3 liters water, high calorie snacks, headlamp & whistle (just in case), extra pair of socks, hat, sunscreen, phone/camera, binoculars, rain jacket for precip. and wind/cold, leather palmed gloves, map/app, another hiker.
8/ Pack out what you bring in and pick up all the additional trash you can; don’t play music from speakers while hiking; hikers on the way down yield to hikers who are on their way up; yield to faster hikers; be friendly to other hikers; offer help to others; be friendly to dogs; be hydrated when you start; park your car properly; cigarette butts are trash too; check the weather before you go; don’t be an Instagram Imperialist.
9/ Get dirty, step in the mud. You are hiking. People trying to avoid mud are causing erosion around the edges of the trail. Often the safest place to step is in the mud in the middle of the trail. If you don’t like mud, go to the mall at Ala Moana.
10/ Have fun and be safe.

I’ve hiked the Moanalua valley trail a few times now to the top of the stairs, I try to do it once a month if time permits. If you don’t have crampons I’d suggest getting them for the more rainy days. I’ll be doing this hike again the week of Christmas. My favorite view and hike on the island

hello my name is maximilian, I'll be heading up to the stairs on Monday early morning 12/17/18 if anyone would like to join. I live on island and have never tried heading up the back side to the stairs if anyone is interested in tagging along dont hesitate to direct message me on Instagram (:

I will climb the Stairway to Heaven with some others on Saturday the 15th for the 308th time. “Haʻikū Stairs v.308”. I can’t wait! :)

My most recent post on Instagram @Hawaii_Mountain.Man.Matt gives an idea for one impactful photo angle.

5 things about stairway:

(1) It is illegal, but not unsafe.

In 70+ years there have been no falling deaths on the stairs. Compare that to 54 air rescues on diamondhead last year. By total death count, the Stairway to Heaven could be Oahu’s safest trail. (Although it still deserves caution.)

(2) Contribute to what you love.

I clean every three days on average, but it builds up fast. To make it convenient to carry trash out, bring a bag so you don’t soil your pack.

Poop: bury it or squat over a one-gallon bag, toss the wipes in, press the air out, tripple bag and pack it out like a diaper.

(3) Take it easy on the neighbors.

Most locals are friendly, but some are understandably aggressive. Blood has spilled over this hike more than once in the past year. You cannot be too careful.

(4) Plan your hike and hike your plan.

The most common Haʻikū Stairs story is:

“We went to bed at 11pm, woke up at 2am and tried to get in, but got caught by police. When we got back to the hotel we slept. We really wanted to take a picture on the stairs so we decided to go the ‘back way’. It was harder than we expected, and when we got to the top we decided we needed to take the stairs down because we would rather get the ticket than die.”

If you are considering going the legal way, choose companions who will be willing to return down the legal way also. You can easily get a ticket coming down the stairs.

Except under special circumstances, I normally do not guide the ‘back way’. There is another guide who provides equipment and coaching for that experience.

a. The ‘back way’

Legal access hours to Moanalua Valley Trail are 7am - 7pm with the same ticket as the front way if you’re caught after hours. I recommend starting right at 7am because it’s safer to not rush on the mountain. If you think you’re lost, take the only certain way out - which is to turn around. It’s easy to find yourself in a life-threatening position on the trails behind Haʻikū Stairs.

If you want to see sunrise or sunset, I recommend beginning at noon and sleeping over. The mountain is usually cold, rainy, misty and windy, so prepare accordingly. A good insulating mat is a must if you plan to spend the night.

‘Good’ hiking shoes are NOT sufficient. I recommend soft rubber ‘hiking cleats’, a GPS device, cautious confidence, and enough internal fortitude to enjoy your activity rather than merely survive it.

Ask me for detailed ‘why’s behind shoe criteria.

b. The stairs.

If you’re considering the stairs, it is important to be personally and professionally prepared for the legal exposure, and know which actions increase that risk.

The financial setback usually begins around $5,000 depending on legal fees, travel expenses, fines. If there is any impact on professional life it can be 100x that. I recommend handling this decision carefully.

Send me a message at Facebook.com/MatthewKievlan for advice there.

(5) Linger in the mountain.

People think I go for the epic view, but when we go upstairs they slowly begin to recognize their own reflection in nature. They resonate with the energetic blueprint of a place so majestic and discover new light to admire in their soul.

As we climb, energy begins to grow in us and melts our physical senses, opening us to sense spirit. We become immersed, perhaps because we have ‘stepped into’ the experience 3,922 times, as we move from civilization to heaven.

After a while at the top, our group fades into shock (in a good way) and stays that way for the rest of our journey. Like a broken record, every time I hear: “We researched it, but we could have never guessed it would be so good. ‘This’ makes it so much more than a hike.” Always with smiles; sometimes in tears.

Most visitors get to the top, take their best photos, and head back down. (I suggest studying which photo angles make the best statements before you hike.)

When you get to the top, don’t leave quickly. Lean back and enjoy the main event.

The magic begins when you settle in with comforts to look back on your work - while still in the environment of it.

We create space at the top with good scents and music to soak in the bliss of it. We write our names, revel in the story of this day, and relax on memory foam pads inside clean fuzzy jackets tasting wine paired to warm Vermont maple syrup on nutmeg French Toast.

If you start down right away, the noise of civilization dominates the fragile nuances of truth you uncovered along the way, before they have time to set into your memory.

Reflection in-space is the actual gem of the experience. Even after so many times, I haven’t gotten tired of it. Once we begin up, I’m lost on it too!


The mud starts once you cross the stream. But once you get further up the switchbacks, the trail starts to get drier and more pleasant to walk on esp with the wind blowing from the sides. Go past the bench and the trail will contour the side of the hill, with occasional views towards Pauoa valley and town, and it takes you down to Pauoa Flats. Once you hit the main junction, the mud galore starts again as this is a main throughfare where all the Makiki-Tantalus Trails converge upon. They are in the process of constructing a raised boardwalk, as the muddied and rooty path can be quite troublesome to walk on.
If you don't feel safe parking in Nuuanu, one can also take bus #4 and stop just before Kimo Drive. From here, you can walk to the trailhead via Nuuanu Pali Drive. A good combo is to hike from here to Manoa Falls Trail and catch Bus #5 back to Ala Moana Center. You can also hike towards Makiki Valley Nature Center/Tantalus via Puu Ohia, Manoa Cliffs or Kalawahine; and some of these trails do intersect with Round Top Drive. There is a bus stop near Spalding House on Round Top Drive or walk further down towards Nehoa/Manoa Rd to catch #5 back to town.

Better to be over prepared.
Great hike

5 days ago

Great sunrise spot looking out to sea and back over Honolulu. Was really busy even at sunrise with at least 50 people or more. Did this walk on Monday 10th December. Car entry is $5 and if on foot is $1 per person. Definitely worth the price for the views. It toke us 15 minutes to get to the top with no stops.

Took my 4 year old on this today. She did amazing. The views are breathtaking

Relatively easy because it is well paved. Entirely uphill. Very crowded with two way traffic. The biggest issue is that the crowds are mostly tourists who all have different ideas about what side of the trail to be on, how close to be, how much of the trail is ok to fan out on, and how fast to go. There is a stretch of the trail that goes through a cave, which, if you’re the kind of person who gets claustrophobic in elevators, might be a little uncomfortable. Lots of stairs and the viewing platform is very narrow and crowded. View at the top is totally worth it!

Crowded and touristy, but still a classic. I like to go in the late afternoon when most of the tours are gone.

Even though this hike is a must see for Honolulu/Oahu it's not much of a "hike" good elevation and workout with a view, that's it.

* WAY too touristy. Lots of folks who have no business going up will be there. No trail etiquette in the slightest
* Paved all the way up. Badly at that. Times were you will trip and fall
* If you're a hiker, take the "hard" route when it comes up. Stairs to get the blood flowing.
* Views are great. Crowded. Tourist spot in tight quarters.

Trying to do this hike on Monday December 10th if anyone is planning on going. As of now I’m going alone going to start around 7am

Would anyone be interested in hiking this with me? Here until the 11th and could use a trail partner for this specific outing. richardhandley@live.com

It is an easy hike, however, it has a narrow path at some points of the hike and there are points where there is oncoming traffic (due to it being heavily crowded) and u cannot pass the person in front of you. Took about 20 minutes to reach the "summit". The whole path is paved. Entrance Fee- Not sure about the Parking fee, but I hiked up to the gate it self and it was a dollar. On Saturdays, if you go in the AM for the hike, you can enjoy KCC famers market right around the corner.
The stairs (towards the last part of the hike to reach up top) in the pictures are optional, but more fun. There is an alternate and an easier path as well. Definitely worth the view if you are visiting HI for the first time such as in my case.

Aloha! I typically hike up 1-3 times a week. Hiked today and will be going again this weekend on Sunday as the weather for Saturday does not look good. I will also be going next weekend Dec 15/16 and possibly during the week as well. I have hiked most of the hikes on this island many many times! I have probably done this particular hike more than anyone else on island. (over 100+ times) It is often windy and/or rainy but we never have issues as we always have the right gear (including microspikes) which is supplied by me when we go. If you're looking to hike and want to link up or get some ideas of what this trail looks like feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram @mike.karas or mikekarasphotography@gmail.com. Bring plenty of water for this hike and other hikes out here in Hawaii.

You can get to this trail via Aihualama, Nuuanu , Ohia, Manoa Cliff or Kalawahine.

The steep section will lead you to a fishing outpost.

Super good work out trail!

On my last hike, my track registered 4.0 miles. Its never consistent but its not very far off. Best to take everyone else’s track distance and take the average.
A good place to run is Koko Head Rim Trail, across the road from Koko Crater Park. The area is always parch and trail wide with unobstructed views almost the entire track. Hardly anyone on weekdays. Great place to burn calories and work up a good sweat lol

Quite the overgrown trail with lots of tangled webs of branches to traverse. The painted markings help but recommend a GPS device or use of All Trails as it is needed.

Not as muddy which meant the falls weren't as full.

The tunnel or drainage ditch would have be cool to conquer but didn't have a head lamp.

Excellent trail to see the haiku stairs. I ended up being more impressed by the trail than the stairs themselves. Weather was a bit intermittent through the passes but with spikes it was fine. I did see some people on the trail in regular runners but I would not recommend it.

Load More