Birds chirping overhead and other forest critters scampering into hiding, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has finally reopened!
Cue the blank stares, confused murmuring and “Huh? It was closed meh?” Yes, for the past two years the highest peak in Singapore and the trails cut into it have been shut, much to the dismay of nature lovers, mountain bikers and hikers bound for higher peaks around the world.
For two years, trails and the reserve have been given a much needed reprieve from heavy footed folks trampling through. Restoring and tackling erosion has been the name of the game, and you’re advised to refrain from going off trail, bashing into the forest. If you so desperately desire to, just sign on.
Bukit Timah’s trails and paths cut around the hill and through the reserve, more interesting than the direct route up. If you’re all about conquering peaks fret not, the trails bring you back to the tarmac road leading to the summit, eventually. Venturing into the reserve, we eagerly trotted down the steps of the first path we came across.
No printed maps are available at the visitor’s centre, which isn’t much of a problem and all the more reason to explore the various trails. The South-View Path links up with the Catchment Path is a safe bet for those looking for a bit of a challenge that’s easily completed under an hour.
For the light and sure footed, add Bukit Timah to your list of trails to zip through. Channelling our inner squirrel, darting up and around the trails, we put the restored steps and paths to the test and made it down in one piece.
Once in the trails, relieve yourself from the stress of decision making and reading signs. With the exception of going straight ahead at one junction Kuring path, keep turning left.
Damp, cool and humid, the forest canopy shelters both inhabitants and visitors from the oppressive heat that’s all too common here. Trees older than anyone in this country reach skywards, and you won’t miss them even if you’re in a rush. They stop you in your tracks, urging you to slow down to look around, up and down.
You’ll know you’re on the right path when you encounter a few steep descents, and fret not, you’re roughly halfway to the summit. This is according to an uncle we struck up a conversation with while running around with cameras, garnering a puzzled stare or two from fellow visitors.
Back on the main road leading to the summit.
That was easy enough you’ll think to yourself, and now all you have to do is follow this well paved road to the top. Simple enough.
But, if you’re familiar with life or role-playing games, crossroads are aplenty. At Bukit Timah, you’ll have the choice of taking the paved road that loop around to the summit, or the stairs that slingshot you to the top after burning your legs.
When you see a restricted area from what looks to be a scene out of some post apocalyptic movie, then you’ve made it to the top… of Bukit Timah Hill.
Pop the champagne, or kiss your trekking buddies, you made it. If you’re alone, be sure to have a camera to hide behind while you take lots of pictures for the internet. There’s no panoramic view that awaits you but, enjoy the fresh air, have a snack and mind the monkeys.
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