Updated: Jul 27, 2021
With an intention to challenge myself to complete the 36Km Singapore Coast-to-Coast Trail in one day, I decided to train my legs using a longer cross-terrain route from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to Central Catchment Nature Reserve and vice versa.
Although this post focuses on the 14Km hiking trail from MacRitchie Reservoir Park in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to Bukit Timah Hill, I actually did it right after completing the 12Km Hike from Bukit Timah Hill to MacRitchie Reservoir Park. That was a 26Km round trip.
Read this before you go:
Points to Note when Trekking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (updated with COVID-19 precautionary measures.)
I will use the Mushroom Cafe in MacRitchie Reservoir Park as the starting point since it is an easy-to-locate landmark for most people. There are restrooms, water-refilling stations and a cafe here.
Start: From Mushroom Cafe, head towards the park (in the direction of the carpark) as shown on the map above.
Point 1. At the first junction, turn right towards the reservoir.
Point 2. You will come to a big tree. Continue straight after passing the tree to the edge of the reservoir, then turn right again and follow the concrete footpath till a small dam at the end of the footpath.
Point 3. At the end of the dam, turn left towards Paddle Lodge. From this point onwards, always keep left and turn left at junctions to achieve the 14Km walking distance.
On some days, especially weekends, you will be able to see people kayaking in the water.
Point 4. Keep to the edge of the reservoir and you will come to the start of the nature trail. There are two options at this point:
Follow the forest trail for 800 metres to Point 6. (You will have only 12.5Km for this hike.)
Follow the boardwalk for 2.2 Km to Point 6. There will be more forest trail from Point 6 onwards, so I chose the boardwalk for something different and to clock extra mileage.
If you choose to take the boardwalk, continue reading. Otherwise, skip to Point 6.
Point 5. This is a junction that will lead back to the forest trail. Keep left to stay on the boardwalk, the main bulk (about 1.3 Km) of the boardwalk trail is just about to start.
Point 6. At the end of the boardwalk trail, turn left and follow the forest trail all the way to Point 7. It will be a long walk from here on a stony trail.
Point 7. Turn left and follow the trail. Turning right will exit the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Point 8. A short distance away, you will come to a road. Turn left again and follow the road for a short distance.
Point 9. The road will lead to the Ranger Station at Point 10. But we will take the longer nature trail, so turn left and follow the trail till the Ranger Station. Ignore any paths that lead to Venus Carpark.
Point 10. At the Ranger Station, take a short break. This will be the last stop with restrooms and water-refilling until Bukit Timah Hill.
After the break, continue on the trail towards Jelutong Tower / Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as indicated by the signpost.
Note: There are paths beside the Ranger Station that lead to the TreeTop Walk, but it has been closed since August 2020 for maintenance work till Q3 2021. It is a one-way path that begins from the Ranger Station and ends at Petaling Hut, which is the reason why this trail is planned in an anti-clockwise direction around the reservoir. Once the TreeTop Walk reopens in 2021, this trail can be re-adjusted to include the TreeTop Walk without going against the direction of that trail.
Along the trail from the Ranger Station to Point 11, you will pass by Petaling Hut, ignore the trail besides the hut. It is the exit for the TreeTop Walk trail, so do not walk into it.
Point 11. This is an important junction for going towards Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Turn right. The sign said that Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is about 5.1 Km away. This junction is also about half-way between MacRitchie Reservoir Park and Bukit Timah Hill.
Follow the main trail and do not stray off into any smaller side trails or "No Entry" areas. Certain paths are closed off for safety reasons, so do not take unnecessary risks and get fined if caught.
Point 12. At this point, you will be an exit of Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Continue straight on Rifle Range Road. Note that all premises to the sides of this road are restricted areas, so stay on the road. You will reach the Rifle Range Flyover eventually.
Note: Cross the flyover using the footpath on the RIGHT as there is no footpath on the left side at the end of flyover.
Point 13. After crossing the flyover and a short distance further ahead, you will see a side trail on the right side of the road. Take the trail.
Point 14. Turn right and follow the yellow trail through some uneven terrain. Watch out for errant cyclists that ignore the "Danger" signs and ride on this trail. You don't want to be in their paths when they fall from their bicycles.
Note: A low locked gate was newly-erected to deter cyclists from riding down the slope. For hiking, just cross over the gate.
Point 15. Keep a look-out for a small opening in the trees besides two concrete structures. That is one of the entrances to Bukit Timah Hill. So, turn left into the trees.
Follow the trail that will lead mostly uphill.
Point 16. At the junction with Cave Path, you can choose to:
Take Cave Path (left turn) that leads to the Visitor Centre. Read this post on Bukit Timah Hill to find the path to the visitor centre.
Continue on Catchment Path to head for the main tarmac path or the Summit of Bukit Timah Hill.
Point 17. On the main path, you can turn left to head downhill for the visitor centre if your legs are sore from walking. If you can still go on for a little more to the Summit, turn right.
Point 18. 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 19. Take the flight of steps to the summit. This will be the only long flight of uphill steps for this hike. The main path will also lead you to the summit, but 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.
Are you cursing me for suggesting an uphill climb after walking for nearly 12Km? If you cannot do it, take the main path. I can, so I take the steps.
Point 20. At the summit, take a break and catch your breath. I use the summit as the landmark point to signify having reached Bukit Timah Hill. Logically, this can be considered as the end of the hike but we still need to get out of the nature reserve to a nearby MRT station.
Leaving the summit, follow the main path all the way to the visitor centre.
Point 21. From the visitor centre, follow the route on the map to Beauty World Centre. The MRT station is just beside it.
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 17,940 for this hike and the total walked distance is 13.7Km. Time taken was about 3 hours — that's an average of 4.6Km/h without rest stops.
Download IPT MapTrail app and install the "MacRitchie to Bukit Timah Hill" Hi-Trail. Other hiking trails are also available on the app.
Try the other direction: