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Section of Moanalua trail closed as Haiku Stairs fate decided

Nina Wu
COURTESY BRITTNEE YEE
                                Haiku Stairs. State officials said they have closed a portion of a Moanalua trail known as “Middle Ridge” while construction work is underway to remove Haiku Stairs.
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COURTESY BRITTNEE YEE

Haiku Stairs. State officials said they have closed a portion of a Moanalua trail known as “Middle Ridge” while construction work is underway to remove Haiku Stairs.

State officials said they have closed a portion of a Moanalua trail known as “Middle Ridge” while construction work is underway to remove Haiku Stairs.

Construction work on Haiku Stairs, however, has been temporarily halted pending results of an evidentiary hearing scheduled in Circuit Court on Friday, according to the nonprofit Friends of Haiku Stairs, which filed suit to block the demolition.

The City and County of Honolulu had initially announced plans to dismantle the stairs – also known popularly as the “Stairway to Heaven’ — at the end of April.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources nevertheless says “Middle Ridge” is closed. It has been closed since Monday, DLNR said, and will remain closed for 30 days or longer, if necessary, during construction work to remove Haiku Stairs.

Middle Ridge leads to the summit area of Haiku Stairs from the back side involving a more lengthy and difficult hike over the Koolaus from Moanalua. Many websites refer to it as the “legal backway” to Stairway to Heaven.

DLNR says it is not an official, maintained state trail.

“The closure, authorized by DLNR Chair Dawn Chang, is necessary for protection of biological resources; public health, safety and welfare; protection of property; and for management activities,” said DLNR in a news release. “The City and County of Honolulu has jurisdiction over the stairs and since announcing the structure will be dismantled, there has been an uptick in hiker traffic on Middle Ridge.”

Due to recent citations of trespassers at the base of the stairs, people have resorted to using the Middle Ridge to access the summit, DLNR said, driving an “unprecedented increase in traffic to this sensitive watershed.”

“DLNR officials are taking these actions to prevent people from getting injured while attempting to access the stairs from the hazardous ridgeline,” said the state agency. “Foresters are also concerned about the ecological damage hikers are doing to this sensitive native forest.”

The closure includes parts of the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve bound by the Kulanaʻahane Trail to the north, Kamananui Valley Road and an unofficial trail known as Waolani to the south, and the Koolau summit ridgeline to the east.

Signs about the closure have been posted on impacted trails, and hikers caught using them could be cited, DLNR said.

The Kulanaʻahane Trail and Kamananui Valley Road, meanwhile, will remain open.

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