This jaw-dropping view comes at a cost, however. The trail has a reputation of being “forbidden” because of the high level of risk that goes with the journey towards the peak. Unlike other trails, the steep, vertical route to the top challenges even the most experienced hikers.
Due to the dangerous nature of the trail, the Hawaiian government closed the stairway to public access, making every climb illegal. Guards are posted at the bottom of the mountain and fences have been put up to ward off the thrill seekers. This, of course, does nothing to lessen the huge number of people who continue to make the climb.
Hikers usually start the climb in the early hours of the day to avoid being spotted by the guards, but ascending in the dark makes the journey even harder and more risky.
The storm that ravaged the island of Oahu did not help in the case of the Haiku Stairs. It massively damaged parts of the mountain and, consequently, the trail, which reportedly made the trek even more perilous than it initially was.
Deaths caused by traversing the trail have been brought up by some locals who support the idea that the area remain closed to the public. These deaths are, according to locals, enough warning that the mountain is not safe for hiking. Hence, calls for the stairs to be demolished are being made.
The government and locals of Oahu are at odds with regard to deciding what to do with the hiking trail. The possibility of generating income as opposed to ensuring the safety of the public are the main points coming from each side of the argument.
The local government claims it acknowledges the possibility of re-opening the trail, but only on the basis of its own terms. What these terms are is yet to be stipulated, so the promise is still on hold as of the moment.
There are calls from some locals to keep the stairs as part of Oahu’s draw for tourism and re-open trail to the public. A non-profit organization called Friends of Haiku is doing its best to maintain the stairway by picking up trash and supporting preservation programs.
The group proposes that a $100 fee be charged to tourists, while residents pay $10, to generate money that will be used for maintenance and repair costs. This, according to them, will allow the attraction to be self-sufficient. Considering the popularity of the trail, it is not unlikely that people would be more than willing to pay.
Yet another group of people clamors for the preservation of the trail, but insists that it remain closed to the public for the sake of safety. The reason for keeping the steps is that they have been part of Oahu’s history and may serve as a tourist attraction without necessarily having to be a hiking trail.
Finally, there are residents who claim that it is best if the staircase be completely destroyed to avoid running the risk of attracting hardheaded visitors. Though they have the public’s safety in mind, such course of action is going to cost the government a huge amount of money, making this option a last resort.
Whether the government decides to keep the staircase closed to the public remains to be seen. For now, hikers are satisfied with getting past the security and navigating through narrow, steep steps for a risk-laden but breathtaking journey to experience a piece of heaven.