Tripler Ridge to Haʻikū Stairs

At the top of the Haʻikū Stairs

What do you call it, when you’re on a trail but not really running?

Oh, yeah — hiking.

I hesitate to talk about it here — it’s not running.  You can’t run it, you wouldn’t run it. But the route from Tripler Ridge to Haʻikū Stairs is certainly worth filing away in the back of your brain, as worth doing sometime.

I would, though, love to make another go of it with runners, because it certainly has all the makings of a great trail scramble.  While one can’t hold a sustained pace or keep the run up for too long over any real distance, one could certainly move with speed and a purpose over most all of the ~7 miles of this route.

Why do this? I can give you two reasons.

1) To legally get to the top of the Haʻikū Stairs.  if you’re like me, you’re not willing to hop a fence and trespass in order to climb the stairs — but that’s going up.  Coming down is a different story altogether — if you can hike to the top of the stairs, the guard has no issue with exiting the mountain via the stairs.  Strange, I know.

2) The hike itself is awesome.  Not that climbing nearly 4000 stairs doesn’t have it’s appeal, but hiking up the ridge line — whichever way you choose to come — it a great hike.

Why hike Tripler Ridge to Haʻikū Stairs?  I can give you two reasons, one of which is kinda lame.

1) Tripler Ridge is a total cake walk.  I mean, let’s be honest — Middle Ridge (just to the north) can be nasty, as can Kulana’ahane Trail to the north of that.  Tripler Ridge is easy enough that someone could make the ascent in the dark with moonlight and a AA-powered flashlight (caution: that’s wild speculation on my part, but I think it’s true).  Yes, there are sections of the trail that are thin — but they’re just thin, not super-skinny or so hairy that you’d actually considering scooching along on your butt.

2) No one is going to break into your car, when you leave it parked on Tripler.  Well, not likely.  I’d be totally surprised if it happened, and if it does, flag down one of the nearly countless MP’s and file a report.

There’s one other thing about this route: you’re not going to do this one alone.  Well, you’re not likely to do it alone.  You’ll want to stash a car near the exit, and leave one at the trailhead.  Which is good — this is a long, single-file trail with views so awesome you’ll want someone with whom you can share them.  And yes, there’s always the safety issue — it is remote, there are few others out in the area, and no, you don’t want to have to call 911 and pay for a helicopter to come and extract you (the cost of which I can only imagine).

Three hikers

And am I serious about a trail scramble up this?  Absolutely.  It’s totally possible.  In January, I ran the first almost 3 miles up the ridge, and it very much was a trail scramble.  The upper portions get crazy steep, but it’d still be possible to assault the ridgeline at a decent pace.  Bring gloves and check the weather.

Google Earth file, here.  I included two other overlays, showing the other ridges that I don’t recommend.
Things to bring:  At least 3 liters of water, maybe more; gloves, in case there’s a mud scramble; a phone; an awesome but small camera; someone else; a plan for a ride back; some basic first aid stuff like fabric to use as a field dressing; and a sense of adventure.

Thanks, Lita, for the great photo.