Kennon Road

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Route 54 shield}}
Kennon Road
Benguet Road
Rosario–Baguio Road
Kennon Road, Baguio City.jpg
Kennon Road as viewed from the Kennon Road Viewdeck
Route information
Maintained by Department of Public Works and Highways
La Union 2nd District Engineering Office
Benguet 1st District Engineering Office
Baguio City District Engineering Office
Length33.534 km (20.837 mi)
  • Philippines road sign R3-8.svg Trucks
  • Philippines road sign R3-7.svg Buses
Major junctions
North end N208 (Aspiras–Palispis Highway) / N54 (Governor Pack Road) in Baguio
Major intersections
South end
ProvincesBenguet, La Union
Major citiesBaguio
TownsRosario, Tuba
Highway system
  • Roads in the Philippines

Kennon Road, also known as Rosario–Baguio Road, is a two lane 33.53-kilometer (20.83 mi) roadway in Benguet province in the Philippines connecting the mountain city of Baguio in Benguet to the lowland town of Rosario in La Union province. The project begun in 1903 and opened for travel on January 29, 1905. Originally called Benguet Road,[1] it was later renamed in honor of its builder, Col. Lyman Walter Vere Kennon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is the second oldest road that leads to Baguio, after Quirino Highway, and the shortest route to Baguio for travelers from Manila and provinces in central and southern Luzon.[2]

The entire road forms part of National Route 54 (N54) of the Philippine highway network.

Route description[edit]

Coming from the lowlands, Kennon Road is one of the four major access roads that lead to the highland city of Baguio.[3] The upward climb reveals a picturesque view of the mountains, lush vegetation, and pine trees as one gets closer to the city.

Most of the highway's stretch encompasses the municipality of Tuba in the province of Benguet.[4] The small settlements along the road, known as Camps 1 to 8, were originally established for the pioneer builders of the road,[1] but have been occupied since by local residents. The Bued River flows along a rocky canyon from the lofty heights, and following this course the road was cut above the river bed.

The highway is a toll road,[3][5] with the lower tollgate located about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) from the junction at Rosario near Camp 1. The upper tollgate is about 13 kilometers (8.1 mi) south of Baguio near the Lion's Head and Camp 6, in Tuba.

Bridal Veil Falls in the Bued River Canyon viewed from Kennon Road

The steepest portion of the road between Camp 6 and Camp 7 in Baguio is commonly known as "Zigzag Road" because of the numerous switchbacks required. The design of the road switchbacks along that section of the road are similar in construction to the agricultural rice terraces found locally in Benguet and the other mountain provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region.


Benguet Road construction crew near Camp 5, Tuba, Benguet ca1903 setting explosives into a sheer cliff of the Bued River Canyon.
Kennon Road near Camp 7, Baguio in 1914
Kennon Road, circa 1940s

As the Americans wanted to make Baguio a summer retreat to solidify Manila’s position, they decided to build a sturdy and reliable road to go there. They first tapped Charles W. Mead, who was a civil engineer. But was subsequently replaced by Colonel N.M. Holmes. Two years after in 1903, the project was turned over to the administration of Lyman Kennon.[6]

The construction of the road commenced in 1903 by cutting across the mountains of Benguet with the combined efforts of various Filipinos, Americans, Chinese Filipinos and Japanese nationals. It was considered one of the most difficult and expensive civil engineering projects of its day, with expenditures by the newly established Insular Government of the Philippine Islands in excess of US$2.7 million.[7] The Americans were inimical and irked, as evident in their stance that it was the "Christian Feast Holidays" celebrated by the Filipinos that caused the delays in the completion of the road.

More than 2,300 foreign and local workers worked on the road. Aside from Filipino engineers and construction workers and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headed by Col. Lyman Kennon, foreigners from 36 countries were recruited to work on the road; the majority, at about 1,500 or 22%, were Japanese.[8] The road proved to be a more challenging and dangerous than the original plan of Mead. Hundreds of workers died from malaria and dysentery while more plunged to their deaths while building the road. They are also affected when intense rainpour dredged their positions. The eventual result was in reality, a deviation from the original plan. After the road was completed, some of the foreign road workers, such as those from British Hong Kong and Japan, decided to remain in Baguio to live permanently, such as some Cantonese Chinese Filipinos or in the case of some Japanese Filipinos, move to work in Abaca plantations in Mintal or Calinan in Davao City.[2]

The original road was a Macadam Telford-type road which was later improved into an all-weather asphalt roadway. More recently, some portions of Kennon Road have been replaced with concrete pavement.[9]

The highway was severely damaged by the 1990 Luzon earthquake[3] that the Department of Public Works and Highways decided for the permanent closure of the road.[10] The highway was proposed to be replaced by a road traversing through the town of Itogon on the way to the lowlands of San Manuel, but was met with criticism from the inhabitants of Baguio. Kennon Road was reopened for public use on September 1, 1991, after rehabilitation efforts were completed.[10] Throughout the years, however, the road has been subjected to temporary closures due to landslides that occurred during heavy storms or earthquakes.[11] The road is currently being repaired and maintained by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with usage limited only to light vehicles and only to residents living around the area.[12] The rehabilitation and improvement of Kennon Road is currently being considered to be put under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme with the DPWH starting consultations with an international firm for a pre-feasibility study regarding the project.[13][14]

In December 2021, Republic Act No. 11604 was signed into law which mandates the Department of Public Works and Highways to undertake the full rehabilitation and maintenance of Kennon Road.[15]

Road hazards[edit]

Rehabilitation works on the retaining wall of the Uabac section of the road was done in 2016 after it was damaged by continuous rains the year before.[16]

Kennon Road is one of the most hazardous roads in the Philippines,[17] especially during rainy seasons, when road accidents are common. The road is closed during heavy rains or typhoon conditions to avoid casualties from landslides[17] [18] [19] [20]

Portions of the highway are also prone to land-sinking, particularly along Barangay Camp 3 in Tuba.[21]

Although Kennon is the shortest of the four major access roads, travel time is frequently as long as the other two because of poor road conditions. It usually takes an experienced commuter from 45 minutes to an hour to negotiate the 41.2-kilometer (25.6 mi) steep and winding climb by car.

Seasoned locals, race car drivers and motorsports enthusiasts, due to better road conditions, are now completing the drive under 30 to 25 minutes. [9]


Intersections are numbered by kilometer posts, with Rizal Park in Manila designated as kilometer zero

Ilocos RegionLa UnionRosario214.613133.354 N2 (Manila North Road)Southern terminus
Camp 1 toll gate
Ilocos RegionCAR boundaryLa UnionBenguet boundaryRosarioTuba boundary215.155–
La Union 2nd District Engineering Office–Benguet 1st Engineering Office highway boundary
Cordillera Administrative RegionBenguetTubaCamp 1 Bridge 1 over Bued River
Colorado Bridge
227.038141.075Ampasit Bridge
227.784141.538Camp 3 Bridge 2
Ataki Bridge
Camp 4 Bridge 1 over Bued River
231.127143.616Camp 4 Bridge 2
Pugo Bridge over Bued River
232.259144.319Maramal Bridge over Bued River
Camp 4 Bridge 4
233.358145.002Camp 4 Bridge 5
Camp 5 Bridge 1
235.465146.311Camp 5 Bridge 2
237.940147.849Camp 6 Bridge
Demonstration Bridge over Basa Creek
Camp 6 toll gate
TubaBaguio boundary239.593–
Benguet 1st District Engineering Office–Baguio City Engineering Office highway boundary. Lion's Head.
Baguio245.158152.334 N231 (Loakan Road)
246.550153.199 N233 (Monticello Road)
Military Cut-off Road
248.147154.191 N54 (Governor Pack Road) / N208 (Aspiras–Palispis Highway)Roundabout. Northern terminus.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b Sources:[22][23][24]


  1. ^ a b Kennon, Lyman. "Kennon's own report on the famous zig–zag". Baguio Midland Courier. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Bankoff, Greg. (2005). These brothers of ours: Poblete's obreros and the road to Baguio 1903–1905. Journal of Social History - Volume 38, Number 4, Summer 2005, pp. 1047-1072 PDF at University of Auckland
  3. ^ a b c "Kennon Road". City of Pines. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Kennon Rd" (Map). Mapcentral. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  5. ^ Montecillo, Paolo (14 March 2012). "Hike in toll on Kennon Road looms". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  6. ^ Tinio McKenna, Rebecca (2019). American Imperial Pastoral: The Architecture of US Colonialism in the Philippines. Ateneo de Manila University Press.
  7. ^ "Baguio City Centennial September 1, 1909". Balita Pinoy. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  8. ^ Afable, Patricia (2008). "Compelling Memories and Telling Archival Documents and Photographs: The Search for the Baguio Japanese Community" (PDF). Asian Studies. 44 (1).
  9. ^ a b - Kennon Road
  10. ^ a b Cabreza, Vincent (16 May 2012). "Fighting for century-old Kennon Road". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  11. ^ Ilao, Micaella (July 29, 2017). "Kennon Road closed due to landslides". ABS-CBN. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  12. ^ Alimondo, Lauren (September 25, 2020). "Constructions on Kennon Road to continue". Sunstar Baguio. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Improvement, Operation, and Maintenance of Kennon Road Project". Republic of the Philippines - Public-Private Partnership Center. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  14. ^ Balinbin, Arjay (February 3, 2021). "European firm's consulting services for Kennon Road start". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  15. ^ Parrocha, Azer. "PRRD signs law mandating full rehab, maintenance of Kennon Road". PNA. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  16. ^ Cawis, Redjie Melvic (10 June 2016). "DPWH advises motorists to avoid Kennon Road due to rehab works". Philippine Information Agency. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Kennon Road". Dangerous Roads. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Rains trigger landslide along Kennon Road in Benguet". GMA News. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  19. ^ Locsin, Joel (15 September 2014). "Kennon Road closed, 11 roads impassable due to landslides caused by Luis". GMA News. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  20. ^ "1 killed in Benguet landslide; Kennon Road closed". GMA News. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  21. ^ Arthur, Allad-iw (26 August 2014). "Residents of sinking Kennon Road village urged to move to safer ground". Northern Dispatch (InterAksyon). Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  22. ^ "La Union 2nd". 2016 DPWH Atlas. Department of Public Works and Highways. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  23. ^ "Benguet 1st". 2016 DPWH Atlas. Department of Public Works and Highways. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  24. ^ "Baguio City". 2016 DPWH Atlas. Department of Public Works and Highways. Retrieved May 22, 2016.

External links[edit]