The Tumu Mountain Trail climbs through the thick tropical rainforest of Ofu and leads to a spectacular sweeping viewpoint of Ofu Beach and Lagoon, Olosega, and the distant island of Ta'u. Difficulties encountered during the hike include arranging transportation to the trailhead (to avoid the vicious dogs of the villages along the road), dealing with heat and humidity, making the correct turns at trail junctions, and being extremely careful at the end overlook point because there are vertical cliffs some 1,500 feet in height with no safety railings. Please keep yourself and your children far away from the edge. A topographical map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the starting point are -14.162548, -169.681109.
Hiking the Tumu Mountain Trail makes for an incredible day on Ofu and leads to one of the best viewpoints in the South Pacific. The hike is 5 1/2 miles RT (round-trip) with a little over 1,500 feet in elevation gain, with an additional 120 feet in elevation gain if you go to the actual highest point on the island (which has no views). The starting point for the hike is near the end of the road at the northwestern tip of Ofu adjacent the Ofu Harbor. If you decide to walk to the trailhead from your lodging place, be very careful of village dogs, which are unfriendly and will bite if given the opportunity. It is best to catch a ride from a local, borrow a bicycle and pedal fast, or bring large sticks to keep the dogs back. While passing through the village of Ofu, take note of the dramatic sea caves at the southern end of Nuutele Island. In talking with locals, I was told that nobody takes canoes or passes through these sea caves, as it would be too dangerous. But the sea caves are very impressive to look at from a distance. At the end of the road, a clearly marked trailhead sign and 4WD road heads up into the mountain at this spot. During the early part of the hike, the road is wide with coconut trees, banana trees, and extensive jungle greenery all around. There are views looking back down toward the Ofu Harbor area. One of the most interesting spots passed by on the lower trail is the Ofu Solar Park, which began operation on April 22, 2017 and currently provides power for 80 percent of Ofu and Olosega. The two connected islands were previously powered completely by diesel fuel which had to be shipped in from American Samoa's main island of Tutuila. The goal is to power the islands by 100 percent renewable energy in the near future. Just past the solar park, there is a critical trail junction where you need to turn left onto a smaller trail to keep going. As there were no signs marking the junction, we guessed that we were supposed to turn left at this spot and we turned out to be correct. From here on, the trail is more overgrown and much narrower. There are occasional views of the mountains and distant ocean, but the views are mostly blocked by the thick trees of the rainforest. However, there are wildflowers including orchids to enjoy and photograph. About 2/3 of the way to the top, while you are climbing the Mako Ridge, an interesting area is passed by where everything is covered by a layer of greenery -- even the trail and surrounding trees. Near this spot, there are some outstanding views to the northeast, including a view of Leaumasili Point and the Alei Ridge on Olosega Island. As the trail finally nears the top, there is a junction reached, with the Tumu Mountain Trail extension heading to the left and the road to the summit continuing straight. Hikers will want to turn off to the left here, as views are scarce on the actual summit. There is a rough use trail which passes through the trees with some signs tacked onto trees to follow. At the very end, there is a short rope climb which leads to the majestic viewpoint. As stated earlier, be extremely careful at this viewpoint because the area is small and sheer cliffs drop off some 1,500 feet in elevation. One misstep (or trip on the summit rock) could send you tumbling over the edge. So be aware of where the edge is when you are taking pictures and keep any children well away from the edge and don't ever take your eyes off them. As we had our 5-year-old Stefan with us at the top, safety was of extreme concern to us. We were also very proud of him for accomplishing such a difficult hike on his own without any help. From the viewpoint, Olosega is 3 air miles away and Ta'u is 11 air miles away. It is a truly wonderful and breathtaking spot that you will never forget. In fact, upon returning home we added a canvas print of the viewpoint panoramic to our living room wall. My favorite views were looking across the Leolo Ridge, down to the beach and coral lagoon below, at Sunuitao Peak, and at Piumafua Peak. This is a spot where you could easily sit and enjoy the views for several hours. And with life existing at such a slow pace while you are on the island of Ofu, why not take the time to soak in the views? The hike took us around 6 hours, but keep in mind that we had a 5-year-old, which greatly slowed down the pace. Our hike took place on September 8, 2017.
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