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Spots on The Rock

Hike the heavens

Tour the top of the world at Mount Lamlam and Mount Jumullong Manglo

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Trek along the island's southern mountain range, where Guam's two highest peaks on Mount Jumullong Manglo and Mount Lamlam lend a bird's-eye view of beautiful sunsets, jungle scenery and a shining blue sea on the horizon.

Mount Jumullong Manglo, the island's second-highest peak, rises 1,283 feet from its base. It's just a few feet below the summit of Mount Lamlam, the highest peak on Guam at 1,332 feet, and is separated by just a half-mile on the southern mountain range.

To clear a common misconception, Mount Jumullong Manglo is the hike more regularly traveled, seen with dozens of crosses atop its peak. This is also the mountaintop that thousands of Catholic faithful flock to annually on Good Friday.

Mount Lamlam, however, is the island's highest peak, but is seldom hiked since it is less known, and views at Mount Jumullong Manglo are a bit more vast and vibrant.

If measured from the bottom of the nearby Mariana Trench, with a maximum depth of 36,070 feet, Mount Lamlam would be the tallest peak in the world. With that distinction, a Guam or U.S. flag often can be found flying atop this peak.

Note that through the hike, you will see a few small, dilapidated crosses planted in the ground along the trail. There are precisely 14 of these crosses lining the path to the top, although some may be too worn and weathered to be recognizable, or may have blown over.

These are the Catholic Stations of the Cross, which mark a series of places to pause and pray. Count the crosses to keep track of how close you are to the top.

Let's get started

To begin, cross the street and find the small, green sign that reads "Mount Lamlam," which identifies the trailhead. Here you will find the clear-cut path uphill that signals the start of the hike.

The trail begins on red dirt, climbing past the first of the 14 crosses at the top of this first slope. Here, you can take your first breathtaking view of Sella Bay and the southwest coast of Guam in the near distance.

Though the trail winds up and up, it does level out every now and then. Choose to take a few breaks when warranted, with great views all around and with beautiful wild orchids and other flora and fauna to enjoy.

About midway through the hike, a short section of jungle sprouts. The terrain here is moist and possibly muddy, so be aware of your footing and use any nearby handholds to assist your ascent. The wet clay and limestone terrain can be especially slick in parts of the jungle,

Breaking out into the light and under open skies again, another ideal resting spot is at the end of an upward slope, where flowers dance in the wind and the sleepy streets of Route 2 rumble with but a few cars passing every now and then.

When you've re-energized, carry on the journey and hike up the next few open slopes with ease.

Soon, another small spot of jungle will sprout, and a few steep steps up slippery paths will lead to leveled ground, and the Virgin Mary Grotto on your left.

Catholic faithful light candles, lay rosaries and say prayers here, so please respect the environment.

The second-to-last leg of the trip travels up a grassy hill walled off by sword grass. There are quite a few ditches and small holes here, so, again, be careful of your footing.

At the top of this slope, you should see Cross 11 (XI), where there is also a faint fork in the path. The junction might be less than obvious, so keep an eye out for what appears to be an alternate path.

The trail naturally bends to the right toward Mount Jumullong Manglo, about two minutes away. However, take a left to Mount Lamlam, about 20 minutes away, first.

Natural wonders

The saddle between Lamlam and Jumullong Manglo is a natural wonder. Up ahead, you'll have views of the isolated and off-limits Fena Lake, and remote jungle valleys in the south.

There are fields of cattail reeds and some pretty peculiar flowers, including wild orchids larger than a grown man's fist.

Note that the trail to Lamlam is not as defined as the straightaway path to Jumullong Manglo, due to the lesser foot traffic it receives. It's well-worn, but not maintained. Beware of meandering social trails.

Aside from the usual swaths of sword grass lining the mountainside, you'll notice plenty of pandanus plants and limestone outcroppings atop the mountain range.

You should break out into a savanna-like area for a few minutes – also where you see the cattail fields – before entering a thicker jungle.

The path is still easy to follow here, so continue through the eerie jungle, winding around whistling trees.

After alternating scenery between brief spots of short jungle junctions and savanna crossovers, you should reach the final, uphill jungle climb to the peak!

Scramble up a short, limestone hillside to reach the top of Mount Lamlam. The rocky footing is wobbly and unstable, and will require grabbing onto potentially sharp handholds for support. After the short climb, you've made it to the top of the island and world!

At the peak, you will find a small space with a large cube of concrete that has a small, circular, metallic sign that reads: "Guam Geodetic Triangulation Net." This serves as a geographical survey marker.

Take scenic photos with the tattered Guam or U.S. flag, if either is still flying overhead, and take in the sweeping sights of Guam to the north, central and south.

When you've enjoyed these grand views available only atop our island's highest peak, take a leisurely trek back to the initial fork atop the mountain range, and instead head right to Mount Jumullong Manglo, just a couple of minutes uphill.

We're not done yet

Soak in the views of the southern mountains and southwest coastline, including Sella and Cetti Bays.

The dozens of crosses here were hand-carried by groups of local residents throughout the years since the 1970s.

The wooden crosses are about 11 feet tall and 6 feet wide, and weigh roughly 500 pounds each.

The largest iron cross, known as the "Tricentennial Cross" has stood atop the mountain for 37 years, braving typhoons and the brunt of Guam's worst weather. Built in 1980, this cross commemorates the 300th anniversary of the founding of Guam's oldest villages.

Scour the red-dirt range for photo opportunities all around, and when you've had your fill of fun and adventure, retrace your steps back down to Earth.

Happy hiking!


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