American Samoa southmost Trip Report

Steps Point, Tutuila, American Samoa, substitute for southmost point in the USA and its territories

Date: January 14, 2019
Author: John Mitchler

Attempt to reach southern most point of US Territories -John Mitchler & Greg Juhl, from PPG Pago Pago airport. We attempted Tutuila because Rose Atoll is deemed too restricted to visit.

Head west on Airport Road (route AS14). Pass the Ili Ili Golf Course on your right (north). At the stop sign, turn left (west) on route AS 1. Drive slow. Take the first left (south) which is unmarked and appears to be a lane. This is route AS 120. Drive 0.6 miles, watching for speed bumps and truck traffic from cinder pits. The map shows AS 120 goes the full length of Matautuloa Ridge, almost to the south point. Not so; the road disintegrates into jungle.

At 0.6 miles from AS 1, there is a fork in the road at a noticeable large cinder pit on the left (east). Do not park here. The land along this road is private and belongs to the guy living in the nice home at the fork. He owns the lane to the left which descends to Fagalua Cove of Larsen Bay. This lane cannot be driven very far and becomes a footpath and eventually a flora obstacle course before opening onto a stony beach, complete with beautiful views and ocean trash. Instead, at the fork go right.

After negotiating a few ugly potholes come to a gate. Park here and contact the folks in the house to the right (west). Pay $5 per person for the right to walk this road along the ridge which bisects the marine sanctuary comprised of Fagatele Bay to your right and Larsen Bay to your left. This sanctuary was recently renamed American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary, and includes off-island parcels such as Rose Atoll. American Samoa NOAA site

Pay the fee, bypass the gate, and walk the road south, along the crest of the ridge, toward the south point. You will see explanatory signage. Do not take the side roads. Stay straight and south. Go downhill slightly,then uphill again to a relatively open grassy area with an explanatory sign. Do not go left or right. Go straight, seemingly into the forest. You can tell you are on the road because of the meshing laid across the rock. The map shows homes along this road, but they are long gone as is the navigable nature of the road. Nature is reclaiming.

In a short time watch for a wood cabin on the left (east), once served by the electric poles still standing along the road. After this point, the trail becomes overwhelmingly overgrown and jungle bashing is required to descend down to the south point (Steps Point).

Maps show a lighthouse to be located at Steps Point (labeled as a lighthouse, not just a light). Also there is a bench mark. We did not have machetes nor much water, so we surrendered to the veggies and returned to our car. In addition to the effort of getting through the jungle, we were also concerned about descending the possible shoreline cliffs. We considered hiring a captain to take us to the point, although the shore is rocky and pounded by waves, so the best option may still be to reach the south point by land.

It would be nice (but expensive) to charter a boat to Rose Atoll, but there might be access issues. Lonely Planet says it is easier to walk on the moon than visit Rose Island. I have maps for the curious. - John M.