The island of O’ahu in Hawaii is home to a breathtakingly beautiful hillside hike worthy of the name made famous by Led Zeppelin: the Stairway to Heaven. More formally known as the Ha’iku Stairs, the lengthy walkway spans almost 4,000 steps and climbs approximately 2,300 feet (700 metres), overlooking the city of Kaneohe.
It was originally built back in 1942 to provide access to the secret Ha’iku Radio Station atop the Ko’olau mountain range, serving the US naval fleet in the waters surrounding the island. After the naval base was decommissioned in the 50s, the US Coast Guard took control of the area and closed the trail to the public in 1987.
Despite the prohibition, hikers continued to brave the vertigo-inducing climb and still do so to this very day. That’s despite the fact that much of the trail was decimated by a violent storm in February of 2015, rendering it almost impassable.
Furthermore, a guard is permanently stationed at the bottom of the trail, discouraging would-be hikers, and police regularly hand out tickets with mandatory court appearances to those caught attempting to tackle it.
While those transgressors plucky enough to defy the police, the elements and the climb itself might be breaking the law, they’re certainly rewarded with an impressive view and an unforgettable experience.