Atlas Obscura is Hiring! Join us in pursuit of wonder.

Hiker Nearly Falls Off Illegal Swing on Hawaii’s Famous Stairway to Heaven

A hairy situation.

The gorgeous and highly off-limits Ha’iku Stairs in the hills of Oahu, Hawaii are sometimes known as the “Stairway To Heaven,” and thanks to a highly illegal swing that was built on one of the peaks, that name almost became literal for one recent hiker.

Originally built in the 1940s, the Haiku Stairs were built to provide access to a military radio installation perched on one of the high Oahu ridges. The walkway started as a simple ladder, before being upgraded to a wooden staircase, that was later replaced by the metal stairs that exist today. After World War II, the radio station at the end of the trail was converted for use as a portion of the Omega navigation system, before that was shut down in 1997.

The incredible stairway has been left in place, running along the edge of the misty, green edge of the Oahu hills, tempting adventurous hikers. Due to liability issues, the stairway has been off-limits to civilian hikers since 1987, with multiple signs, and even guards, set around the base of the stairs to keep people off of them, but none of this seems to have worked very well, since people regularly make the scenic hike despite the danger and possible fines.

Recently someone managed to install a treacherous swing atop one of the peaks that allowed people to arc out over a 2,700 foot drop. It’s unclear how long the swing remained in place, but after a video of a hiker nearly slipping off to her death went viral, the local government decided enough was enough. In the now-removed video, which can still be seen in a report by local news station KITV 4, the hiker slips out of the seat and has to be gingerly pulled back to the path by her friends.

The swing was removed on Tuesday, at a cost of $23,000, with workers even sawing down the utility poles that the guerilla swing had been strung between. The stairs remain off-limits, but it seems like only a matter of time before someone finds another amazingly dangerous way to take advantage of the remarkable path.