Best hiking trails in Singapore
Close your rings
If you can count the number of times in your entire life you've been hiking in Singapore on your fingers, well... you're not alone. Given the unbearable heat on our sunny island, it comes as no surprise that folks are hitting up gyms and attending fitness classes for their cardio fix. You'll sweat while you're at it, but at least those beads aren't just due to the humidity.
But pro hikers will tell you you're missing out. There are forests, nature reserves, and reservoirs out there to be explored — and nothing quite beats walking to the drum of your own heartbeat as you take in nature's finest. If you head down with a partner, pack a picnic or snack to enjoy in the midst of your hike when you stumble across an irresistible view.
We might not be the experts, but we caught up with avid hiker Christine Amour-Levar and dug deeper into her training ritual, which involves her traversing various lesser-known spots in Singapore. Amour-Levar is a social entrepreneur who has led teams on challenging expeditions to the Arctic, Middle East, and the Himalayas for Women On A Mission (WOAM) — a non-profit organisation she founded that aims to raise awareness and funds for women survivors of war, and to empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse.
Her next WOAM expedition will be to Papua in Indonesia early next year, to visit the Korowai indigenous tribe. In preparation, her team will be trekking through Singapore's jungles to get the necessary training they need — below, Amour-Levar shares some of her favourite spots to hike in Singapore.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the only hill dipterocarp forest in Singapore. This is unique as such a forest type usually occurs in regions that are 300 metres to 762 metres above sea-level. The Nature Reserve is also home to Singapore's tallest hill — Bukit Timah Hill — that stands sentinel over the area at 163 metres. It also contains at least 40 percent of Singapore's native flora and fauna even though it makes up less than 1 percent of the country's area. The lush reserve is home to animals such as the Plantain Squirrel, the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the Singapore Freshwater Crab — a very rare species of crab that can only be found in Singapore.
Pulau Ubin Island
Pulau Ubin is an island off eastern Singapore and often considered the last kampong (village) in Singapore. A stroll through Pulau Ubin takes you back to Singapore in the 1960s with the simpler pleasures of life. How to get there? All it'll take you is a short 15-minute bumboat ride from Changi Village before arriving on the quaint island, where you can then rent mountain bikes to get around. Otherwise, you can hike the island and take your time soaking in the overgrown rubber plantations, secluded beaches, and flourishing mangroves.
The TreeTop Walk is a 250-metre suspended pathway between the two highest points Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang in MacRitchie, offering a spectacular view of plants and animals that live in the forest canopy. This highlight is a 4.5 kilometre walk from MacRitchie Reservoir. At the TreeTop Walk's highest point, you'll be 25 metres above the ground — that's up to seven storeys high. Perhaps not one for the faint-hearted?
MacRitchie Reservoir is Singapore's oldest reservoir. It's a wonderful place to go on long hikes and has so much on offer in terms of flora and fauna too. Look out for the monkeys and huge lizards along the way when you hike there.
Dairy Farm Nature Park
Set in a rustic environment with trails for hiking and mountain biking, the 63-hectare Dairy Farm Nature Park was developed in 2009 by the National Parks Board to provide an alternative recreational venue to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Amour-Levar loves the old railway track and the ability to cross many nature lovers on this trail, including young children on school outings with their teachers. Take a leisurely stroll on the meandering footpaths that run through the secondary forest and admire the beauty of the lush greenery.
Alternatively, go for a run on the park's undulating terrain for an invigorating workout or hike through the forest and enjoy its serene ambience. Climb the look-out points that reach more than 10 storeys high for stunning views of the quarry. Don't forget to stop by the park's entrance to marvel at the picturesque pond that lies at the foot of a high cliff wall. The pond runs deep and still — a relic from the mining days of the region.