All access to Haiku Stairs region closed for removal

2024 June 12 CTY - Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo by Jamm Aquino/ No Entry signage is seen at the entrance to the trailhead of Kamananui Valley, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park in Honolulu. Continued trespassing onto the Haiku Stairs during deconstruction activities is prompting the closure of the entire Moanalua Section of the Honolulu Watershed State Forest Reserve and of the City and County of Honolulu’s Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park. An increased level of law enforcement will be in place to ensure public safety and to protect construction and helicopter crews.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the City and County of Honolulu announced Wednesday the closure of the entire Moanalua Section of the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve — also known as Middle Ridge — and the Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park for the removal of the Haiku Stairs.

The Moanalua Valley park will be closed starting today for approximately 30 days for demolition, with the timeline subject to weather conditions and the public’s compliance with regulations.


Also known as the Stairway to Heaven, the city decided to remove the stairs in 2021. It was originally built by the U.S. military during World War II and has been officially closed to the public since 1987 due to legal liability and resident complaints about hikers.

During the past year, a group known as the Friends of Haiku Stairs filed two lawsuits opposing the removal of the stairs, aiming to preserve them for historical reasons.

The first lawsuit was unsuccessful, and while the second lawsuit is ongoing the city is being allowed to proceed with the removal of the stairs.

“As soon as all the signs are put up, we will be enforcing all the trespassing rules,” Honolulu Police Department Captain Kurt Ng said Wednesday at a news conference at the Moanalua Valley park. “We will have zero tolerance, anybody entering the park will be cited.”

Ng said that since Sunday, the department has cited 13 people for trespassing after entering through Middle Ridge; since April, there have been at least 80 citations issued and an estimated 15 arrests.

“It has become increasingly clear that dozens of hikers have ignored the partial closure, which has resulted in dozens of citations being issued by officers from the Honolulu Police Department, and the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. Having people on the trails or in the area during this demolition project is extremely unsafe, thus the full closure is necessary, to protect public safety and our natural resources,” DLNR Chair Dawn Chang said in a statement.

On April 10, the city’s Department of Design and Construction and project contractor Nakoa Companies Inc. began preparatory work on the removal project, which involves dismantling more than 600 stair modules. The project was expected to take at least six months.

The total contract amount for the work, including the base amount and contingencies, is $2.579 million, which will come from operating funds from two fiscal years: $969,326 from fiscal year 2023; and $1.6 million from fiscal year 2024.

On May 9, DLNR announced the closure of the Middle Ridge area for 90 days or more to dismantle the stairs.

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