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Spots on The Rock

Solemn Merizo hikes that end with a splash

Visit historical sites and a series of freshwater pools

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Solemn Merizo hikes that end with a splash

Maneuver through Merizo jungles and over breezy hilltops to reach a couple of World War II massacre sites and a series of small freshwater swimming pools.

This hike is a bit different from our typical outdoor adventures for Spots on the Rock, taking hikers to three different, but short, destinations down south.

These 10-minute hikes are grouped together and require driving to three different locations, mostly located near residential areas in Merizo.

Two of three hikes lead to the historic Tinta and Faha massacre sites. Hikers should respect the sanctity of these areas. Keep noise to a minimum and refrain from playing loud music.

The views are amazing in both areas, but the greatest takeaway will be the serenity of the sites, as well as the history learned and lives commemorated.

The third short hike leads to the popular Priest Pools, a group of small freshwater swimming pools set in the southern mountain range.

While the hikes are separate and can be done in any order, it would suit adventurers best to trek first to Tinta, then Faha, and end with Priest Pools.

The trek to Tinta

To reach the trailhead by the Tinta massacre site, drive down to Merizo on Route 4/Chalan Kanton Tasi. Turn right onto Espinosa Road, just before the Shell gas station/Bank of Guam branch complex.

Less than half a mile down the road, look for a Tinta sign pointing toward private residences on the right. Either find space along the main road to park, or get the permission of the village mayor or residents living by the trailhead to park inside the private property.

Afterward, find the dirt road by a fence, near the last residence. Note, the trail ahead is very muddy during the rainy season, so it's best to hike on a dry day.

However, if you don't mind mud-caked shoes and the chance of slipping and sliding in wet dirt, go right ahead and begin the 10-minute trek.

Dodging mud puddles along the way, the trail will pass by a private ranch area before reaching the shallow Ge'us River. There might be a wooden plank here to cross the small waterbed.

Continue to follow the path over muddy pathways with sights of the Merizo mountain range in the distance. The area was supposedly a rice paddy ages ago.

Entering a bamboo grove that grows eerie and odd, don't be afraid when the wind starts to whisper, or if the branches begin to bellow.

At the end of this short-yet-bizarre jungle entrance, you'll reach the Tinta massacre site, where a black plaque lists local lives lost during WWII.

This small and simple memorial commemorates 30 men and women of Merizo who were forced to march to their deaths toward the end of the war.

Fourteen of 30 captives survived grenade blasts and bayonet stabbings, but the 16 who did not survive are buried near this site. Read more of the site's history by viewing the nearby plaques.

Fantastic views at Faha

To head to the next hike, retrace your steps to your car and drive south toward Umatac, to the Merizo Catholic Cemetery, which is between the Merizo Pier and the two Bile Bay bridges.

Turn right onto the cemetery road and make your way up to the small parking area behind the cemetery. Park here and find the designated hiking trail close by. This short, uphill path is less than 10 minutes from the Faha massacre site.

Along the hilly trek, there will be breathtaking views of Merizo and the southern mountains. Stop by any of the breezy vistas for awesome photos!

Hikers should reach the hillside Faha memorial site shortly, complete with a few plaques and crosses commemorating the 30 Merizo men who were killed because they were seen as the tallest and strongest in the village during the war.

Read the plaques to get a better idea of the ordeal, and pay your respects to those who were killed.

Afterward, find a trail behind the massacre site and follow it to view even more beautiful landscapes.

Here, you'll find jaw-dropping sights of the turquoise Cocos Island lagoon and rolling green hills of the southern mountains.

Plunge into Priest Pools

Once you've had your fill of the scenic and sacred spaces, to get to Priest Pools, retrace your steps to your car and travel north toward the main Merizo village area.

Turn left onto Joseph A. Cruz Avenue, which is the uphill road by the San Dimas Catholic Church and across from the Santa Marian Kamalen Park.

Heading up the steep hill into Pigua, turn left onto the second paved road, Dano Street, and park at the dead end.

Begin the 10-minute hike by following the grassy path into the wilderness, passing a residence on the right.

Heading into the savanna-like area, two visible paths will come into view. Take either one, as both lead to Priest Pools with about the same difficulty.

The well-beaten path will end at Priest Pools, a series of freshwater swimming pools of various sizes.

As for the destination's name, it's rumored that Spanish-era Catholic priests would take advantage of nature's bounty by bathing in the pools back in the late 1600s.

Cascading from the Pigua River, these refreshing water holes are an excellent way to cap your solemn day of short yet meaningful Merizo hikes.

Cannonball into the top swimming pool from 10 feet above, and be sure to explore the smaller pools and waterfalls below. Use handholds and watch your footing as you make the steep descent to the bottom area.

After cooling off in the multiple pools and exploring the surrounding savanna areas, simply retrace your steps to your car.

Happy hiking!


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