For nature lovers, Singapore will surprise you with its shares of wildlife and nature. One of such hidden-away gems is Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Established in 1883, Bukit Timah Forest Reserve was one of the first forest reserves to be created in Singapore. The reserve was spared from depletion for timber and the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment areas were later declared as Nature Reserves in 1990. Today, the nature reserves are gazetted for the propagation, protection and preservation of Singapore’s indigenous flora and fauna and managed by National Parks Singapore. Join us on our hike to the summit!
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – Getting There
You can drive and park your car at the reserve carpark. If you do not drive, fret not. The reserve can be conveniently reached by bus: 67, 75, 170, 171, 184, 852, 961. Simply alight at Jalan Anak Bukit Road just opposite Beauty World Centre (Bus stop ID: 42109) or drop off at Upper Bukit Timah Road, opposite Bukit Timah Shopping Centre (Bus stop ID: 42091). If you are coming by train, alight at Beauty World MRT Station and take Exit A.
There will be a short walk to reach the park entrance. Switch on Google Maps or follow fellow hikers who are heading there as well. This old bridge is a sign that you are going the right way.
Just walk a few more minutes more and you will reach your destination.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – Visitor Centre & Gallery
Before you begin your hike, read up more about the reserve at the Bukit Timah Hill Visitor Centre. The exhibition gallery at the centre provides interactive touchscreens as well as informative forest ecology and tree-spotting displays which helps you get a better understanding of the varieties of flora and fauna that can be found in the park. The reserve is also home to plenty of natural biodiversities such as long-tailed macaques and a variety of bird species.
You should also not miss the gallery centrepiece – two majestic Sumatran tiger replicas which offer homage to the real Sumatran tigers that used to roam the reserve.
Now that you are armed with the facts, make sure you are well-protected by mosquito repellent, in your comfortable tracking gears and feeling well. It’s time to explore!
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – Hindhede Nature Park
Right opposite the Visitor Centre is a pathway that leads to Hindhede Nature Park. The park is relatively small and can be considered as a small side adventure from the summit.
For families with kids, the playground with its numerous fun stations will allow you and your children to spend from 30 minutes to an hour if you decide to hands on every station. We particularly loved the flying fox station!
Another reason for doing this side quest is to take in the gorgeous view of Hindhede Quarry which is located at the end of the park.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – Route To The Summit
The initial part of the hike can be daunting especially for folks who are new to hiking or seldom do walks. You should pace yourself and make sure you have a water bottle, stop and rest by the side as you slowly make your way up the steep slope. This is probably the toughest part of the hike up so do not forget to drink clean filtered water when you have the chance. Once through, you will be rewarded with a more gentle path up.
Along the way, do rest to catch your breath over the numerous informative boards to learn more about the flora and fauna in the vicinity.
In the trek up Bukit Timah 163-metre-high slopes, you will pass through trails that wind through pockets of forested areas.
The trails are easy to follow and you have options of varying difficulty you can explore, depending on whether you want a leisurely stroll or a full workout. For example, to reach the summit, you have the option to go up a steep flight of stairs or go on an easier flat path.
In our zest to reach the summit in the shortest time possible, we took to the stairs. It proved to be a tough climb and regular pauses were needed.
We were shortly rewarded with welcoming views of the summit!
If you were envisioning an amazing view or a monumental structure for a photo to prove your accomplishment, you are going to be rather disappointed. A photo with the summit rock located beside the resting shed is the only evidence you are going to get.
There is also a cable tower which many folks will do their ritual walk around it before heading down.
On the way down, we were confident we can still hike a little more hence we went down the path that leads us to Dairy Farm Nature Park. The path was rewarding with old abandon structures from the past but it does end off further away from the MRT Station.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – Mountain Bike Trail
We did not visit it the Bukit Timah Mountain Biking Trail as it is not advisable for hikers to walk in the trail as you might get injured by fast-moving bikers. It is interesting to note that it is the oldest mountain biking trail in Singapore and snakes around old granite quarries and secondary forest. This bike trail was first opened in 1997 and designated for mountain biking.
The 7km mountain biking trail offers intermediate to advance technical trail that are represented with Blue, Black and Double Black lines. It is an intense trail with many fast descents through rock gardens, rock drops, blind corners, sections with technical climbs that require riders to have a good level of fitness and technical skills to enjoy the ride. As this is not a beginners trail, riding within one’s ability is important and good practice.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – Plan Your Visit
We hope you find our hike experience useful. If you are looking to hike up and explore the nature reserve, please check the weather a day in advance. Go early as it would be horrible trekking up under a scorching sun and you would want to be in the company of fellow hikers who are usually there in the earlier part of the morning. Bring along a bottle of water, be in a comfortable attire with good shoes and spray a generous amount of insect repellent on exposed areas before you begin the ascend. Have fun and stay safe!