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Follow the river to famous Fonte Dam

Jungle junctions, superb swimming holes and valley vistas ahead

  • 5 min to read
Follow the river to famous Fonte Dam

MAN-MADE WONDER: The historic Fonte Dam, located within a valley behind Nimitz Hill in Asan. The dam was originally built in 1910, serving as Hagåtña's primary fresh water supply during the early part of the century. Post file photo

In the isolated, central hills of Guam stands a 150-foot long and 24-foot high, man-made dam, slowly being reclaimed by its jungle surroundings since being abandoned over half a century ago.

The Fonte River Dam was built in 1910 along a freshwater river behind Nimitz Hill in Asan, and provided a source of fresh water for the island's capital of Hagåtña when Guam was governed by the U.S. Navy.

The hiking trail ahead leads adventurers down a modestly steep, grassy hill and abruptly turns left into thick jungle.

At the dam, there are swimming opportunities, and sights of a peculiar, concrete structure rising remarkably against the background of jungle foliage.

After exploring the dam, you might want to venture to one or two other optional extensions of the hike for views of the central hills and civilization in the distance, or a small refreshing swimming hole located down the stream.

Follow the river to famous Fonte Dam

'BUILT IN 1910': The sign designating the path to historic Fonte Dam is seen shortly after passing the sixth power pole from the trailhead. The dam was originally built in 1910, serving as Hagåtña's primary freshwater supply during the early part of the century. Post file photo

Frolicking through jungle junctions

From the parking lot, cross the street and find the Guam Power Authority substation and the blue Historical Trail sign. This is the trailhead.

Past the sign, follow the cleared trail downhill behind the substation. Count the towering poles to your left along the way. You will turn into the jungle just before reaching the seventh pole.

After passing the sixth pole, keep a sharp eye out for the jungle entrance to your left. The path, which is likely hidden due to overgrowth, is also signified by a small, weathered rock that reads: "Fonte Dam." Turn in here.

Once entering, you'll notice the path is quite narrow and walled off by sword grass. The environment will open up after a few minutes with a straightforward path ahead.

Beware of the slick and slippery ground, surfaced by mud and red dirt, especially after rain. Not to mention a few grounded branches and dips you'll encounter.

Continue along the beaten trail through spots of jungle and short slopes for the next 20 minutes or so. Soon, you'll find yourself at the top of the dam!

It's easy to pass the entryway to the top as it leads straight to the bottom, so look out for the slab of concrete laden with vegetation to your right.

After enjoying the sights of the river valley and flowing water atop, make your way to the base of the dam by reconnecting with the path and following it to the bottom.

This short path is especially steep and slippery at times, but branches and ropes provided by earlier hikes helps a heap.

Once you reach the base, settle your belongings and explore! Fonte Dam, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, was constructed using real red bricks, although mud and grime cover the color almost entirely.

Feel free to take a dip in the water, but be careful crossing the moss-covered rocks during your entry. Note that tons of guppies and tadpoles call this river home.

Disney vibes at the second swimming hole

After dipping around the dam, consider adding a couple of extra legs to your jungle valley journey. From the dam, there are two equally awesome options: a second – dare I say, better – swimming hole, and a vista of the vibrant valley with sights of Hagåtña and the airport runway in the distance.

To get to the second swimming hole, find the path along the left side of the riverbank, toward the end of the Fonte Dam stream.

Follow the river to famous Fonte Dam

DISNEY-LIKE LAND: A swimming hole located along the Fonte River, is reached by trekking along or over the river for about 15 to 20 minutes from Fonte Dam. The cavernous area is surrounding by jaw-dropping nature, and is a great place to cool off. Post file photo

Follow this path along the river for the next 15 to 20 minutes en route to the swimming hole. This breathtaking trek, under tropical foliage, is, for the most part, flat and easy to traverse.

Note: There will be segments where hikers are required to cross into the river for easier access. However, always try to reconnect onto the riverside path to avoid the slick riverbed.

Follow the river to famous Fonte Dam

ATOP THE DAM: The view seen from the top of historic Fonte Dam in Piti. The dam was constructed with red brick, which can be better seen during the island's dry season. Post file photo

Near the end, you will find the small swimming hole walled off by large boulders and covered by jungle canopy. The area has a Disney-movie feel to it, so don't be ashamed to holler and yodel.

Before you settle, either cross the shallow-ish river to the top of the cavernous swimming hole and lay your belongings wherever it's dry.

For more landmass, cross the river at the top and follow the riverside path uphill. At the top, find the steep trail to the bottom, beside the large rock wall, and settle below. The pool here is about 8 to 10 feet deep.

Follow the river to famous Fonte Dam

VERDANT VALLEY: A scenic view of the green valley seen from a hilltop reached via a trail from Fonte Dam. The village of Hagåtña and the airport's runway are seen in the distance. Post file photo

Vibrant vista offers valley views

To get to the hilly vista from Fonte Dam, find the intersecting path across the stream, toward the end of the dam and near a tree.

Follow the path here steeply uphill for the next 10 to 15 minutes. Soon you will reach flat ground.

Although the distinct path with colored flags may point to the right, be sure to take the less obvious path to the left, through a bed of ferns that slowly ascends.

At the end of this path, you should find yourself atop a large hill with views of Guam's green central valley. You should also be able to see Hagåtña and the airport runway in the distance.

To return to the parking lot, from either the dam, second swimming hole or the overlook, simply retrace your footsteps. Happy hiking!

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