Updated: Jul 27, 2021
I usually go hiking on Bukit Timah Hill on weekends as a form of regular exercise since I tend to walk a lot when travelling overseas. The hike is about 7-8Km to complete a circuit around the hill.
With an intention to challenge myself to complete the 36Km Singapore Coast-to-Coast Trail in one day, I decided to increase my walking distance using a longer cross-terrain route from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to Central Catchment Nature Reserve, specifically from Bukit Timah Hill to MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
Read this before you go:
Points to Note when Trekking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (updated with COVID-19 precautionary measures.)
I will use Beauty World MRT Station as the starting point since it is an easy-to-locate landmark for most people.
Start: Get to Beauty World MRT Station on the Downtown Line and exit the station via Exit B. Follow the route above to Bukit Timah Hill. Since you will be starting the walk here, consider this as the starting point.
Point 1. You will come to the Visitor Centre for Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Get ready for the uphill hike. Do some leg-stretching exercises. The restrooms are opposite the visitor centre across the tarmac path — be advised that the next available restroom will be 12Km away. When ready, take the tarmac path up the hill.
Experience the thrill of hiking up a steep 40° inclined slope. This stretch is good for training leg muscles. You will come to Kruing Hut on top of the ramp. Continue on the main path towards the summit. Ignore all other side-trails until you reach Point 2.
Point 2. At the junction next to Simpang Hut, turn right and you will see a flight of steps leading uphill about 60 metres further ahead.
Point 3: Take the flight of steps to the summit. This will be the only long flight of uphill steps on Bukit Timah Hill. The main path will also lead you to the summit, but it is too easy. Anyway, you will use it on the way down later, so take the steps.
Note: This flight of steps is currently one-way — going UP only — as a COVID-19 precautionary measure.
Point 4. At the summit, take a short break, catch your breath and do some leg stretches. I use the summit as the "start-off" point from Bukit Timah Hill since it is the only significant landmark.
Leaving the summit, take the main path back to Point 3 at the foot of the long uphill steps, then to Point 2 at Simpang Hut. Keep left until you reach Point 5 just a short distance ahead.
Point 5. Go down Catchment Path that leads downhill. Ignore the closed Rock Path along the way.
Point 6. At the next junction, ignore Cave Path and continue straight on Catchment Path.
Point 7. You will soon exit Bukit Timah Hill area. Once out of the trees into an opening, turn right.
Follow the trail and watch out for errant mountain bikers who ignore the "Danger" signs. You will not want to be in their paths when they fall down their bicycles.
Point 8. Near the end of the trail, there is a split. Both trails will lead to Rifle Range Road. The trail to the right will lead to a road barrier and you will need to cross over it. During a hot day, that metal barrier can be scorching hot. The left trail is the designated one to take, so turn left.
Point 9. Continue straight along Rifle Range Road, cross over Rifle Range Flyover, and walk until you reach the end of the road. Rifle Range Road is a pretty long road. Do not stray off the road, the premises along this road are all restricted areas.
Point 10. At the end of the road, you will arrive at one of the entrances to Central Catchment Nature Reserve, where MacRitchie Reservoir is part of it. This is still half-way between Bukit Timah Hill and MacRitchie Reservoir. Follow the only trail here. Do not stray off the trail or walk into any "No Entry" areas.
Point 11. If you follow the trail diligently, you will come to a T-junction eventually. Turn right towards Jelutong Tower.
Why not turn left? Read the post on 14Km Hike from MacRitchie Reservoir Park to Bukit Timah Hill to understand why I choose this path.
Point 12. If this is your first time at Jelutong Tower, climb up the 6-storey high observation tower and check out the surrounding views from above the trees. If this is not your first time, climb up also as a form of exercise.
Take a short break before embarking on the final lap to the end point at MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
After Jelutong Tower, continue on the trail. Don't walk back to Point 11.
You will soon come to a raised walkway through a mangrove swamp. It will be an easy walk from here till the golf course and continue on Golf Link.
Note that some parts of the trail near the golf course can be pretty muddy after a rain. And keep out of the golf course to avoid being hit by golf balls.
Point 13. After another long walk, you will finally come to a junction. Instead of taking Lornie Trail through the forest, switch to the boardwalk along the edge of the reservoir for a change. The boardwalk is slightly longer in distance but easier to walk. So, turn left onto Jering Trail / Boardwalk.
From here onwards, always keep left and turn left. You will be using the boardwalks all the way to the end point.
Point 14. At the end of Jering Boardwalk, keep left.
Point 15. A short distance away, turn left onto Chemperai Boardwalk.
Point 16. At the end of Chemperai Boardwalk, turn left and you will reach MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Keep left.
Point 17. At the Zig-Zag Bridge with a pavilion, go onto the bridge and get to the other side.
Point 18. Keep left and you will come to a big tree. At this point, turn right and follow the signs to Mushroom Cafe.
Point 19. The end point will be here at Mushroom Cafe. There are restrooms, water refilling stations and a cafe, of course.
Have a good rest and enjoy a wonderful meal here.
Using iPT MapTrail app, you can map your hiking trail with health data for step count, number of flights climbed and distance walked. My step count is around 14,700 for this hike and the total walked distance is 11.3Km (measured walked distance from Health app tends to be slightly lower). Time taken was just below 3 hours — that's an average of 4Km/hour including rest stops.
Download IPT MapTrail app and install the "Bukit Timah Hill to MacRitchie" Hi-Trail. Other hiking trails are also available on the app.
Able to walk back?