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Hikes On Guam: The Mt. Lamlam Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Mt. Lamlam
  • Where: Guam, USA
  • Max Elevation: 1,332 feet (406 m)
  • Distance: 3.5 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain:  833 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours round-trip
  • Difficulty: EasyModerateHardDifficult
  • More Information: The Best Tracks on Guam

Route Up Mt. Lamlam

Mt. Lamlam route

Map of the HIke

mt lamlam map

Narrative

One of the hikes I have been looking forward to completing on Guam has been to summit the highest point on the island the 1,332 foot Mt. Lamlam.  What makes Mt. Lamlam interesting from a geological perspective is that locals like to make light of the fact that it has the largest elevation gain of any terrain feature in the world.  They are able to make this claim because when measured from the bottom of the nearby Marianas Trench, Mt. Lamlam has an elevation gain of approximately 38,300 feet.  The Marianas Trench is 75 miles off of the east coast of Guam so I don’t consider this a singular mountain feature like Mauna Kea in Hawaii is, but an interesting geologic note nonetheless:

marianas trench pic

I have been putting off this hike to where I had guaranteed good weather to be able to maximize the views from the top. Eventually that day came when the weather forecast I saw the day prior predicted very good visibility over Guam.  So I made the drive over to trailhead located at the Cetti Overlook in southern Guam:

The trailhead is easy to access by taking Route 2 south from the village of Agat and then looking for this sign:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

At the sign there is a small parking area for the overlook that has a picnic table and sweeping views of Cetti Bay.  However views of Cetti Bay was not what I was after on this day; instead it was the trailhead for Mt. Lamlam that is located right across the street from the parking area:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The trailhead is impossible to miss and well marked with this sign:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The trail up Mt. Lamlam is well defined since it used to be an old Jeep trail that the military once used to maintain communications equipment on Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

As I hiked up the trail I noticed a series of crosses that represent the Stations of the Cross:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I couldn’t help, but think of San Luis, Colorado and its famed Stations of the Cross trail they have there when I was hiking up this trail.  The people on Guam should visit San Luis to see how to put together a really nice Stations of the Cross trail.  These crosses on the trail do show the strong Catholic tradition on Guam that is a legacy of the Spanish colonization of the island that began with Ferdinand Magellan’s landing on Guam in 1521.  It took many decades though before the Spanish could really settle Guam.  It wasn’t until June 15, 1668 with the arrival of Diego Luis de San Vitores, that the first Catholic church was built on Guam which demonstrated to the local Chamorro people that the Spanish were here to stay.  Over the ensuing decades the Chamorros would adopt Catholicism to where it remains the primary religion on Guam to this day.  Looking up towards the summit of nearby Mt. Jumollong Manglo I could see a large cross on top of it that marked the end of the Stations of the Cross trail:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Every year on Good Friday locals hike up this trail to the large cross on top of the mountain.  After hiking up to the summit of Mt. Lamlam I understood why the island’s Catholic community chose the other nearby mountain for their cross because accessing Mt. Lamlam’s summit is much more difficult than the rounded summit of Mt. Jumollong Manglo.  Another interesting peak I spotted while hiking up the trail was Mt. Schroeder which in my opinion is the most beautiful mountain on Guam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Looking behind me to the west I had an incredible view of Cetti Bay lying at the base of Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The views at the start of the hike are stunning because the trail is initially surrounded by grassland, but as I gained in elevation the trail entered into a patch of jungle:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Within this jungle I spotted a shrine to the Virgin Mary located in a small rock outcropping:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is a closer look at the shrine:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I eventually broke out of the patch of jungle and found myself hiking through a savannah like grassland again.  I soon reached the trail junction on the saddle between Mt. Lamlam and Mt. Jumullong Manglo:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Taking a right at the junction leads to the second highest peak on Guam the 1,283 foot Mt. Jumollong Manglo and the end of the Stations of the Cross trail:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I instead took a left and headed north to Mt. Lamlam.  As hiked up the trail I was rewarded with stunning views of the Jungle interior of southern Guam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I did not have views for long though as the trail entered into another thick jungle:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The trail through this section is not as defined as earlier in the hike, but still easily followable due to all the tape tied to trees marking the route:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

In the jungle I saw plenty of these fruits growing called a pandanus:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I have seen them on sale in local markets but have not tried them yet.  They grow on a pandanus palm that has thorny leaves on them that are notorious for scratching hikers on Guam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I eventually exited the jungle to cross through a short section of savannah and spotted what I thought was the summit of Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

When I re-entered into the jungle I came upon a section of limestone that I needed to scramble up to reach the summit:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The climb up the limestone was pretty easy though I was very slow in deliberate because of how loose and fragile some of the rocks were:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The limestone rock on Guam has many sharp edges and a slip could lead to serious injury. What is interesting about this rock is that it is the remnants of an ancient coral reef.  Many thousands of years ago before volcanic activity lifted what is now Mt. Lamlam to its current height it was below sea level with a reef on top of it.  Once the volcanic activity pushed the reef above ground it petrified into the limestone seen today on Guam.  Fortunately on the summit of this mountain there was no limestone for me to stand on instead there was a large concrete pad next to a limestone outcropping with a bar stuck in it:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

This pad I found to be a good stable spot to take pictures from:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

When I stood on the pad to take some pictures I noticed thIs marker for Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

However, I would soon find out this is actually not the real summit for Mt. Lamlam.  That did not stop me from taking plenty of pictures to include of the metal pole sticking out the rock outcropping backdropped by southern Guam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

To the north I could see Naval Base Guam located on the Orote Peninsula:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is a closer look at the naval base:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Even further off to the north I could see the very northern end of the island at Ritidian Point:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

To the northeast I could see the 1,007 foot Mt. Alutom capped with various radios towers:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

My prior hike up Mt. Alutom can be read at the below link:

To the east I could see the thick jungle I had to pass through to reach the summit:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

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

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Way out to the south I could see the very southern end of Guam which is represented by the Cocos Islands:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

To the west I could see Cetti Bay and the thick jungle down below:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The views from the concrete pad are incredible on a clear day because nearly every part of the island can be seen.  The final view I had to the northwest was of the true summit of Mt. Lamlam that was just across from the hilltop I was standing on:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

After taking pictures I sat down and read my trail guide and realized that the concrete block was not the true summit but instead the place that most people end the hike at.  To access the true summit I was going to have to bust through a very thick jungle and do some climbing on some nasty coral rock.  I figured I might as well as go and bag the summit.  How hard could it be?  I would soon find out.  After spending about 20 minutes on the concrete block I then carefully descended back down the rock outcropping:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

From there the hike became a “Choose Your Own Adventure” because there was literally trails going in all directions from people that were lost trying to find a path up to the true summit.  I decided to just try and recapture the ridgeline by bashing my way through the jungle.  Getting through the thick jungle was difficult which was compounded by the swarms of mosquitoes.  Eventually I hit a section of moss covered coral rock that appeared to be heading up to the ridgeline:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I hiked up the rock very carefully because I stepped on a number of rocks that moved and if I had put my full weight on them I would have fallen.  A fall here in some sections would cause injury due to the sharp rocks.  After I finished ascending up the rocks I found myself on a very high plateau:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The swordgrass that covered the plateau was very high and I was thankful I was wearing pants to protect myself from cuts.  I should have wore a long sleeve shirt and gloves though, but forgot to pack them in my bag.  My arms and hands ended up having a few cuts from this section of the hike, but weren’t too bad.  As I walked across the plateau I did see my only wildlife of the entire hike which was a group of pigs that quickly ran off when they saw me.  They moved to quick for me to get a picture of them.  On the other side of the plateau there is a rock outcropping that is the true summit of Mt. Lamlam.  I had to do some searching to find a route up, but on the north side of the rock outcropping I did a class 3 climb up some vine covered rocks:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

These vines are very unstable and would easily break.  I did not trust them to hold my weight and never used them.  However, they made it very difficult to be able to find rock to use as foot and handholds.  I actually tore a number of the vines off of the rocks just so it would be easier for me to climb.  Between the fragile coral rock and these useless vines it was not a pleasant climb to the top of the true summit of Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

However, I sucked it up and soon found myself perched on top of a very small rock formation that was the 1,332 foot summit of Mt. Lamlam. In the local Chamorro language Lamlam means “lightning” which fortunately I had none of on this day.  The weather was just perfect with beautiful views in all directions.  Here is the view looking south where Mt. Schroeder can be seen in the distance:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is the view looking west towards the Philippine Sea with Route 2, the trailhead, and Cetti Bay visible down below:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is the view looking towards the northwest where once again the Orote Peninsula and Naval Base Guam can be seen:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is the view looking towards the north where Mt. Alutom can once again be seen:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is a final picture I took from the summit which was a panorama of the view towards the west:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

After spending about 10 minutes on the summit I carefully made my way back down the rocks.  In my guidebook it said it was actually possible to hike down the western face of Mt. Lamlam to make this a loop hike.  Based on this advice I carefully worked my way down to a cliff below the summit:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

From there I had to fight through sugarcane as I made my way down the mountain.  Here is a view looking back towards the true summit of Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The further I tried to descend the worse the sugarcane became.  It was no fun at all trying to get through this endless sugarcane:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

With my frustration mounting I decided to turn around and reclimb up Mt. Lamlam because breaking through the large swaths of sugarcane was not enjoyable at all.  So I once again carefully ascended up the fragile rock and worked my way back to the grassy plateau:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I walked across the plateau and descended back into the hot, steamy jungle filled with mosquitoes:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Going through the jungle presented some route finding challenges but I was able to eventually find the main trail.  Here is a view from the main trail looking back at Mt. Lamlam:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

After all the bushwhacking I had just been through, II was very happy to be back on a well defined trail.  I had my fill of jungles, swordgrass, and sugarcane for one day:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

The weather on the day I went hiking just continued to be superb as I continued down the trail:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

A mountain I kept taking pictures of was Mt. Schroeder which I just have to climb some day:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is a picture I took looking back up towards Mt. Lamlam (left) and Mt. Jumollong Manglo (right):

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

As I continued to descend I spotted Route 2 below me:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Here is another picture of Route 2 that was right below me:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I could also see Cetti Bay below me as well:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

I then saw the trailhead at the Cetti Overlook:

Picture from Mt. Lamlam, Guam

Conclusion

Overall I completed this hike in 3 hours and 4 minutes with 833 feet of elevation gain.  I walked at a normal pace which means this hike should be able to be completed by most people in 3-4 hours.  The time would be even shorter if only attempting to hike up to the concrete pad.  This hike is actually quite enjoyable up to the concrete pad, but it sucked trying to get to the true summit. There was nothing fun about bushwhacking through that jungle and dealing with the fragile and sharp limestone rock.   Because of that this not a hike I would repeat, but would repeat hiking to the concrete pad.  Overall though I did have another great day out in the Guam outdoors and recommend this hike to anyone visiting Guam.

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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