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Spots on The Rock

1,000 Steps

Where the land meets the sea

What if I told you it would only take 1,000 steps in the right direction to make your day?

Just 1,000 steps to reach a coastal wonderland set with sights of the beautiful blues of the Pacific and gorgeous greens of Guam's remote, northern jungles.

This weekend we head to 1,000 Steps, also known as Tagu'an Point, in Mangilao. It's a great beginner's hike, although not ideal for pets or children due to sharp rocks and a generally hazardous coastline.

I personally love this hike, but I passionately hate stairs. Who loves stairs?

Despite the facts, I would walk 500 miles, and I would gladly walk 500 more, just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles to fall into a place as purely pristine as 1,000 Steps. And why is that?

1,000 Steps is a great introduction to the island's outdoors. With a defined, safe and accessible path, it's hard to get lost (though, it has happened before). The entire trek is completely covered by a jungle canopy with interesting flora and fauna found along the way.

Create your own adventure

Better yet, at the bottom, you can create your own adventure! There isn't really a "destination" to this hike, which means you can explore the coastline up and down as much as you like.

Formidable limestone fortresses carved into the coastal headland create miniature island castles, and peculiar plant paths soften the wear and tear on our feet, and add a whimsical feel to foraging the coast.

Without getting too close, this area is as near as you'll get to seeing some gnarly ocean swells from a safe distance. On a nice, calm day, you might even be greeted by whales or dolphins passing by!

So pack your sunscreen and lace up your sturdiest boots before heading out to capture your nautical adventure along the island's northeast coast.

Where to begin

To start, find the dirt path just beyond the parking lot, which parallels an old fence and heads toward the ocean.

Note that the straightforward trail ahead will transition between a series of man-made staircases and concrete walkways, courtesy of the National Park Service.

In reality, there's only 250-some stairs, but the views are worth 1,000 or more! Although, your legs might later disagree.

Avail of the old handrails lining the staircases, but don't rely on them, due to their age. Also, take extreme caution when walking over the slick concrete walkways, especially when wet.

You'll notice many crawling creatures have made their homes in pretty unique places along the trail. Look out for hermit crabs in coconut cradles or designated cans, and colorful lizards zooming up and down tree trunks.

After 20 to 30 minutes of scaling the cliff, you'll come to the last and longest staircase, which curves as it descends toward the coastline.

At the bottom, you'll enter a brief spot of jungle. Follow the open-ended path as it winds toward the left, passing a large ironwood tree. Then, find the narrow trail to your right, lined by tropical plants, which will quickly let out to the coast. You made it!

Take in the breathtaking views

Here, we're rewarded by breathtaking views of the lavish landscape, including the pristine Pacific Ocean, vibrantly-green vegetation and unobstructed blue skies. The fresh air even seems a little fresher!

To the north, you can see the continuing rocky coastline characteristic of northeastern Guam, and to the south, the highlands of Chalan Pago and Yona jutting out in the distance.

Being surrounded by the coast, which is composed of weathered vegetation blanketing extremely rough rocks, makes it easier to traverse the otherwise treacherous limestone.

Nonetheless, watch your step and look out for hidden holes as you head out to explore Mangilao's majestic outdoor kingdom.

To get back to your car, retrace your steps to the large ironwood tree close to the cliff line, and begin the ascent back up 1,000 Steps.

Happy hiking!


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