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Best Hikes On Guam: Mt. Tenjo, Mt. Alutom, & Mt. Chachao Trail Loop

Basic Information

  • What: Mt. Tenjo, Mt. Alutom, & Mt. Chachao,
  • Where: Guam, USA
  • Elevation: 1,001 ft (305m), 1,007 ft (307m), 1,014 ft (309m)
  • Elevation Gain: 832 feet
  • Distance: 5.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • More Information: The Best Tracks on Guam

Route Up Mt. Tenjo:

mt. tenjo route

Topographic Map of the Hike

mt tenjo map

Google Earth Map of the Hike

Mt. Tenjo Hike

Narrative

As part of my continuing tour of the American island of Guam’s World War II historic sites I decided to take a hike up to the summit of the 1,001 foot Mt. Tenjo.  Prior to the December 1941 invasion of Guam by the Japanese, Mt. Tenjo was garrisoned by the US Marine Corps.  The facility on the mountain was called Camp Barnett where a battery of guns were installed during World War I under the orders of Marine Corps Captain Earl H. Eillis.  The guns were installed to help defend the naval base down below the mountain.  However, the guns were removed in 1921as part of the Washington Conference of Arms Limitation.  A battery guns could have been of some use on Mt. Tenjo when shortly after the Pearl Harbor bombing on December 7, 1941 the Japanese invaded Guam and quickly seized control of Mt. Tenjo.  From the summit of the mountain the Japanese would now use the mountain as a command and control location and a defensive line to maintain their hold on the island.  It wasn’t until July 21, 1944 that the US military returned to free the island from the brutal Japanese occupation.  Mt. Tenjo looks right over Asan Beach where US Marines first landed to begin the operation to free Guam. You can read about my prior visit to Asan Beach at the below link:

However, it was US Army soldiers from the 77th Infantry Division that scaled up Mt. Tenjo to take it from the Japanese. On July 28, 1944 US Army soldiers from the A Company, 305th Infantry Regiment officially secured the summit of the mountain.  Since the liberation of Guam, Mt. Tenjo has become part of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park.  The only way for visitors to access this section of the park is by foot.  To reach the trailhead for this hike visitors need to turn east on to Highway 6 off of Marine Corps Drive in Piti.  Travel about 1.8 miles up the hill and turn right on to Larson Road.  Once on this road follow it for 1.6 miles through a neighborhood of wealthy homes on a high ridgeline.  The road will end at this nice house seen below:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

There is very limited parking here so arrive early and do not park on private property.  From this home there is a rough dirt road which can be driven up where more limited parking is available:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

My little rental car stood no chance on this dirt road which why I just walked the short distance up it to these two large steel tanks:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Across from these tanks is the remains of the old US military jeep trail that led to Mt. Tenjo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

This road has been highly eroded over the years exposing the volcanic soil that composes this section of the island:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I was the only person I saw hiking all day, however I did see a number of mountain bikers that were using the highly eroded terrain towards the beginning of the hike as their own personal playground to challenge themselves on.  It looked like to me this is a popular place for mountain biking.  As I walked along this high ridgeline trail I had some really good views to the west of the Orote Peninsula and Apra Harbor down below:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The trail was very easy to follow as it dipped up and down across the terrain:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The trail then came to this rock outcropping that I decided to hike up:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From the rock outcropping I could see my destination Mt. Tenjo ahead of me to the center left of the below photo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

To the west once again I could see the Orote Peninsula which is home to Naval Base Guam:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama photo of the view looking towards the western coast of Guam from the rock outcropping:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Looking to the north I could see the smoke from the power plant that provides electricity for Guam:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama picture looking to the south where the 1,007 foot Mt. Alutom could be seen with the sun rising behind it on the far right:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

After checking out the views I then scrambled down from the rock outcropping and continued down the trail.  As I walked down the trail I passed this wrecked four-wheel drive vehicle:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I was amazed somebody had tried to bring a vehicle down these old eroded Jeep trails.  Throughout the rest of the day I would end of seeing debris broken off of vehicles that had tried to navigate these old roads.  The trail I followed eventually began to head down the west side of the ridgeline.  I knew I had made a wrong turn then.  To try and get back on course I hiked up to the top of the ridgeline and see if I could follow it to Mt. Tenjo.  However, getting to the top of the ridgeline was challenging because it was completely covered in swordgrass:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The swordgrass is horrible because it will cut exposed flesh.  I had long sleeve pants and a shirt on which I was thankful for.  However, I forgot to bring gloves so my hands ended up getting a few cuts on them. I was eventually able to work my way through the swordgrass to get this view of Mt. Tenjo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama picture I took of the view looking towards the south with Mt. Tenjo in the center and the fuel storage tanks from Naval Base Guam visible on the right:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Due to the swordgrass I decided to scrap my idea of following the ridgeline and instead back track and find the correct trail.  So I walked back past the wrecked SUV and spotted the trail I had missed earlier:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

This trail continued towards the south just below the crest of the ridgeline.  In a few sections it crossed little valleys filled with jungle vegetation:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

In some sections it was quite dense:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

It was in these sections where I saw the most debris from four-wheel drive vehicles that were foolish enough to try and drive down this old Jeep trail:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The old Jeep trail eventually ends at an overlook just below the summit of Mt. Tenjo.  From the overlook at had sweeping views towards the south:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I could see this nice looking housing development below the mountain:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I could also see Mt. Alifan rising towards the south which was once a key Japanese defensive position during World War II:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama picture I took from this overlook with the approach to Mt. Tenjo visible on the far right:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Also at the overlook I noticed this rock that was filled with graffiti left by visitors from over the years:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From the overlook I then proceeded to follow a trail towards the summit of Mt. Tenjo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Near the summit I came to this rock outcropping:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

This rock had graffiti on it from the GIs that once garrisoned this mountain over the years:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The oldest graffiti I could find was from Christmas day 1929:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I could also see graffiti on rocks from just after the liberation of Guam from the Japanese.  What I found most interesting though was that not one Japanese soldier felt the need to scratch his own graffiti into the rock when they once garrisoned Mt. Tenjo. From the rock outcropping I then had to battle my way up and through the swordgrass that covers the summit of Mt. Tenjo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I mostly could not see anything because of the swordgrass, but I did come to one section just below the summit which was clear enough to provide some views:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From the clearing I could see the fuel storage tanks for Naval Base Guam located below the mountain:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama picture I took looking towards the west from this clearing:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From the clearing I then made my way up to the summit of Mt. Tenjo.  On the summit I could see some metal driven into the ground which I think may have been a base plate for a gun that was once installed on the summit:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Looking towards Naval Base Guam was the best view I could see from the summit due to all the swordgrass:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I worked my way off the summit and was thankfully out of the swordgrass.  By now my hands had a number of cuts on them from the grass which was a reminder to me to wear gloves next time I go hiking.  Just below the summit I came to another overlook that provided some nice views to the southeast:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

It is a bit surprising how barren the central highlands are compared to all the other areas of the island covered in jungle.  I have to wonder if it has something to do with the volcanic soil not being suitable for the jungle vegetation to grow?  Looking out in the distance to the south I could see the Southern Mountains whose eastern slopes were covered in thick jungle vegetation:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama of the view from this overlook below the summit of Mt. Tenjo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From the overlook I walked back down to the old Jeep road and retraced my path towards the trailhead.  Before reaching the trailhead I decided to go ahead and hike up the 1,007 foot Mt. Alutom as well since the weather was still quite good and I had plenty of time left in the day.  Mt. Alutom is easily recognizable from most areas on Guam due to it being capped with a number of radio towers.

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From the main trail I took a side trail that dropped into one of the jungle valleys to access the slopes of Mt. Alutom:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The side trail was very close to the trailhead which I could see just above me:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The side trail first crossed some savannah with Mt. Alutom towering in front of me:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a wider angle view from the side trail that shows the main trail heading towards the trailhead for this hike on the far left:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

As I hiked across the savannah I noticed plenty of these beautiful orchids which were the only flowers I saw blooming during this hike:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

After a short walk across the savannah a large jungle ravine opened up in front of me:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Descending down into the ravine was the trickiest part of the hike, but was nothing compared to past descents I have done back in Colorado:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Once I reached the bottom of the ravine I then had to jump over a small creek to begin my ascent up Mt. Alutom:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Further down this creek is where Sigua Falls can be hiked to that I plan to check out on future hikes.  After ascending out of the jungle I was back in the savannah terrain with my path up Mt. Alutom easily visible in front of me:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Behind me I could see the entire ravine system that was filled with thick jungle vegetation that stretched all the way to the coastline:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From here the hike up Mt. Alutom was easy and straight forward:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

It took me about 30 minutes from the side trail to be able to hike over to Mt. Alutom which is capped with these radio towers:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From just below the radio towers I had sweeping views of southern Guam:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I could also see the entire ridgeline I had hiked previously to reach Mt. Tenjo:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama picture I took of the view to the south:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I also had views looking towards the east coast of Guam:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

To the east the most visible landmark was the large Leopalace Resort:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

After taking in the views I then walked up to take a look at the towers:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The tower complex was completely fenced in with plenty of warning signs:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I could see areas where previous hikers have gotten up and into the tower complex, but I did not want to trespass on private property so I did not climb up any of these paths.  I just walked passed the towers and headed towards my next destination which was the 1,014 foot Mt. Chachao.  It was a bit surprising to me that Mt. Chachao is actually higher than both Mt. Tenjo and Mt. Alutom because it just looks like a bump rising up from the savannah:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama of the view looking northeast towards the unimpressive looking Mt. Chachao which is visible on the far left:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Even from down below Mt. Chachao doesn’t look as big as Mt. Alutom simply because Mt. Alutom is capped with so many radio towers.  Despite its not very noticeable appearance Mt. Chachao does have the distinction of being the highest summit in the central highlands of Guam.  Getting over to Mt. Chachao turned out to be the easiest part of my loop hike. I just followed this four wheel drive road through an old sugarcane field that led right to the summit:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

This is the only area I have seen so far on Guam where sugarcane was growing:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is the view looking back at Mt. Alutom as I crossed the sugar cane field:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

As I walked towards Mt. Chachao I could see that this area is a big party spot.  I could see multiple areas where beer cans and fire pits have been left by people who have driven their four wheel drive vehicles over here.  Besides garbage something else I saw plenty of was once again these beautiful orchids:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

After a 30 minute walk from Mt. Alutom I found myself on the summit of Mt. Chachao looking south over Tumon Bay in the distance:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a closer look at Tumon Bay with the pyramid shaped building being the Sheraton Laguna Resort:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Even further out in the distance I could see the golf ball domes of Naval Communications Station Finegayan:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

I could even see the very northwest end of Guam, Ritidian Point:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Here is a panorama of the view looking towards the eastern interior of Guam:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

The views to the north are dominated by Mt. Alutom rising up over the central highlands in front of me:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Rising out in the distance I could also see the Southern Mountains of Guam which are the highest peaks on the island:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

After spending about 15 minutes on Mt. Chachao I then turned around and retraced my route back through the sugarcane field.  Once off of the sugarcane road I followed this dirt road back to where my car was parked.

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

From near where my car was parked I was able to get this picture of Mt. Alutom on the right and Mt. Chachao on the left:

Picture from Mt. Tenjo, Guam

Conclusion

Once I returned to my car and stopped my GPS I noticed that I had completed my loop hike of three of Guam’s 1,000 feet peaks in exactly four hours.  During this four hour hike I had 832 feet of elevation gain and walked 5.7 miles at a leisurely pace.  This hike is nothing compared to the epic hikes I have done back in Colorado and other places, but for Guam this is one of the more challenging hikes to complete.  This hike can definitely be done in about three hours for those who do not sit around and take pictures like I do, but the views are so nice why rush?  From the three peaks on this hike it is possible to see nearly every part of Guam. Besides the views, the military history of Mt. Tenjo is quite interesting to see first hand.  So I definitely recommend that people on Guam take the time to either hike or bike the central highlands of this beautiful island.

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CLICK HERE TO FIND MORE HIKES AT THE GUAM REGIONAL TRAIL FINDER

Get The Best Tracks on Guam for more trail information:

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