Great Hikes: Mt. Alava, America Samoa NP

If you're a National Parks buff specializing in off-the-beaten-path destinations, American Samoa should be on your list.  It's got beautiful beaches, colorful coral reefs, and lush mountains without the crowds of Hawaii.  

America Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States comprising 76 square miles, five volcanic islands and two atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. America Samoa National Park, where some of the best hiking is found, spreads across three of these islands:  Tutuila, Ta'ū and Ofu.

The park is the most remote of America's national parks and, established in 1993, it is also the newest. One of the most popular trails here is the path up to the summit of Mt. Alava. From the top, you'll have great views of the South Pacific and Pago Pago Harbor. The trail is easy to follow, but steep in places. Keep your eyes pealed for colorful birds such as the many-colored fruit-dove, the blue-crowned lorikeet and the cardinal myzomela. 

While the numbers here reflect an out-and-back hike from Fagasa Pass, you can also begin or end the trail at Vatia Village. For a topographic map of the hike, see this link.

Distance: 7.4 miles RT
Elevation Change:  No more than 1,610 feet (this is the elevation of Mt. Alava's peak, but there is no information about the elevation of the trailhead)
Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
Duration:  5 hours
Best Time to Go:  May—October (November—April is cyclone season)

How to get there: The park is located in a remote part of the South Pacific, so make sure to plan your trip well ahead of the time you want to visit. The nearest airport is Pago Pago International Airport on Tutuila Island. Hawaiian Airlines (the only major carrier to America Samoa) provides two flights a week from Honolulu.

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