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Hikes on Guam: The Taguan Trail (1,000 Steps)

Basic Information

  • Name: Taguan Trail
  • Where: Mangilao, Guam
  • Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 362 feet
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • More Information: The Best Tracks on Guam

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Topographic Map of the Taguan Trail (1,000 Steps)

Taguan Trail Topo Map

Narrative

I had been taking a break from hiking in the jungles of northern Guam because honestly the hikes had become not all that enjoyable because of the heat, poor trails, and spiders.  I recently worked up the motivation to go check out another one of the trails in northern Guam with this one being the Taguan Trail also known as the 1,000 steps.  This trail is featured in the guidebook “The Best Tracks on Guam: A Guide to the Hiking Trails“.  A trail with stairs how bad could this be?  I would soon find out.

Accessing the trail was very easy since it is located right off of Route 15 adjacent to the Mangilao Golf Club:

There is even a highly visible sign that can be seen from Route 15 designating the turn off:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Though the sign calls this trail “1000 Steps” my guidebook says there is actually 256 steps. I just call it the Taguan Trail since that is where goes, to a shoreline called Taguan.  Something else I noticed about the sign was that it had the National Park Service logo on it.  Apparently the NPS funds the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation to maintain the site.  I thought that if the NPS is affiliated with this place the trail should be in good shape.  How wrong I would find out I would be.

After making the turn on to the road I drove a short distance through a small neighborhood with the golf course on the opposite side of the street from the homes:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

The paved road turned into dirt which is where I decided to park next to this garbage dump with an abandoned house behind it:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

So much for a well maintained trail by the NPS.  I then walked down the dirt road towards the trailhead for the hike:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

At the end of the dirt road I came to an abandoned parking lot with picnic tables that are slowly being reclaimed by the jungle:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

The parking lot was also filled with garbage:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Yes, folks this is your National Park dollars at work funding a garbage dump on Guam.  The smell of rotting garbage was horrible and I was amazed the National Park Service would let this area get like this.  This is the worse maintained NPS location I have ever seen.  Seriously the NPS should be embarrassed to have their logo on the sign marking the entrance to this trail.

I quickly walked over to the fence line to get away from the smell of rotting garbage where the trail begins:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I followed the fence line until it reached the start of the stairs:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Unlike the Haputo Stairs on the other side of the island, the Taguan Stairs are actually in pretty good shape:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

However, the descent down to the shoreline is not all stairs.  There are also sections of trail that have to be crossed through the thick jungle:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I soon reached the first point during the descent where I could see the Taguan shoreline below:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Something that amazed me was that some sections of the trail had a concrete like substance poured on it to supposedly improve the trail:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Unfortunately the weathering of the concrete has made it very smooth and now it is like walking on ice.  I was walking along when I slipped with both feet flying into the air and with me landing on my butt.  I could not believe how slick this concrete was, sections of it were like walking on ice.  For safety reasons the NPS should immediately rip this concrete out because I can only imagine how many people besides myself have fallen here over the years.  When I wasn’t sliding around on the trail I was combatting spider webs.  These stairs must see very little use because there were spider webs everywhere:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I had to grab a stick and wave it in front of me to knock down the spider webs blocking the trail.  There were points on the trail where I was completely surrounded by spiders:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

This place was causing me to have visions of the spiders from the Lord of the Rings movies coming for me:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

When I wasn’t surrounded by spiders I was being swarmed by mosquitoes.  If I stopped to take pictures the mosquitoes would just swarm on me.  Thank goodness I had long sleeve pants, a windbreaker, and gloves on.  I looked like I was ready to tackle a Colorado 14er and not a steaming hot jungle trail on Guam.  However, this is what I needed to protect myself from the spiders and mosquitoes along the trail.  Despite the protection a few of the mosquitoes did get a few bites in on the back of my neck.  I could only imagine how many bites I would had received otherwise without all the clothing I had on.  The last section of stairs that I descended had no jungle around it:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

This meant I actually had a clear view of the ocean down below:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

The trail ends at this large pine tree near the shoreline:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

The shoreline is composed of weathered rock covered in vegetation that can be difficult to walk on:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Here is a panorama picture I took of the view from the bottom of the trail:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Here is a panorama picture looking back at the cliffs behind me:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

This weathered rock is exposed to the full might of the Pacific ocean since there is no off shore reef to stop the waves.  The day I was visiting the waves were not pounding the coast to badly, but there were strong enough that if I was to fall in I would have likely been killed:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

The terrain here is very similar to the Anao region of Guam that I could actually see far to the north:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

You can read more about my trip to Anao at the below link:

Looking to the south I could see a very eroded and rocky coastline:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Far out in the distance I could also see the highlands of southern Guam:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

My guidebook said that hiking south would lead to Taguan Cave.  So I began hiking that way and quickly found that the rocks were difficult to navigate through just like at Anao:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Some sections required some scrambling up and over large rocks:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I eventually reached a section where I could not proceed any further unless I descended dangerously close to the ocean:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

My guidebook actually says to hike over the flat rocks near the ocean only when the waves are calm.

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I was not going to take any chances with those waves.  Even if they looked calm a rogue wave can strike and throw me in the water.  Once in the water I would be dead from hitting the rocks.  So instead I tried to hike more inland towards the trees, but it became too dangerous.  The rocks were covered with extremely thick vegetation.  The vegetation offered no visibility of what I was stepping on.  I could easily fall right through the vegetation and into an unseen hole:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

A fall here would have led to a serious injury in a location that would be very difficult to be evacuated from.  Without being able to look for firm footholds on the sharp rocks I decided to turn around.  In the below picture I could actually see the beach ahead of me in the distance where the cave is supposedly located:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I had no regrets turning around because scrambling through these sharp rocks in the humid heat was no fun.  I was ready to head back to the trailhead.  I was in fact so ready to return to trailhead that I looked forward to the spiders and mosquitos again just because at least the ground would be solid though slippery in few spots.  Still that was better than the sharp uneven rocks I was scrambling on here on the Taguan coastline.  So I turned around and retraced my steps through the sharp rocks:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I soon could see the large pine tree ahead that designated where the trail up the cliff was located:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I made my way over to the pine tree and found the trail:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

I followed the trail over to the stairs and made my way back up the cliff:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

]I was able to make good time on the way back up the stairs since I had knocked down all the spider webs on the descent.  I powered back up the stairs and make it to the top in less than 20 minutes:

Picture from the Taguan Trail, Guam

Conclusion

Overall this hike is not too bad if it is hiked just to the bottom of the stairs and back.  I do not recommend hiking to Taguan Cave.  Navigating through the rocks is not fun and getting to the cave requires taking some chances.  Could I have made it to the cave?  Probably, but my philosophy when it comes to hiking and climbing is that probably is not good enough.  I want to know that I can definitely complete something safely and not leave things to chance like a wave hitting me and knocking me into the ocean.  Everyone has to do their own risk assessment and seeing one of numerous caves on Guam is not worth the risk to me.

With that all said I want to reemphasize what an embarrassment this trail is to the National Park Service and the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation.  Both organizations should be ashamed of themselves for letting this place become a garbage dump.  If they are not going to maintain the land they should give it up to a private organization like the Nature Conservancy.  I bet they would love to have some land on Guam to protect since the authorities here on Guam don’t seem to care.

Click here to find more hikes at the Guam Regional Trail Finder

Guam Trail Finder

Get The Best Tracks on Guam for more trail information:

2 Comments
  1. Dobbs

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